Obama's Embrace of a Bush Tactic Riles Congress

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President Obama has issued signing statements claiming the authority to bypass dozens of provisions of bills enacted into law since he took office, provoking mounting criticism by lawmakers from both parties.

President George W. Bush, citing expansive theories about his constitutional powers, set off a national debate in 2006 over the propriety of signing statements — instructions to executive officials about how to interpret and put in place new laws — after he used them to assert that he could authorize officials to bypass laws like a torture ban and oversight provisions of the USA Patriot Act.

In the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama called Mr. Bush’s use of signing statements an “abuse,” and said he would issue them with greater restraint. The Obama administration says the signing statements the president has signed so far, challenging portions of five bills, have been based on mainstream interpretations of the Constitution and echo reservations routinely expressed by presidents of both parties.

Related Links

  • Nick Underwood: Signing Statements: Is Obama Following in Bush's Steps?
  • Still, since taking office, Mr. Obama has relaxed his criteria for what kinds of signing statements are appropriate.

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    Randll Reese Besch - 8/13/2009

    But not change of pace. Can we trust a duopoloy run by the moribund parties to ossify in place?

    If we had such a system in the 1830's the Whigs would never have disappeared.