The sneaky veto
Last week Bush used his veto power for the first time ever to stymie a bill that sought increased use of stem cells in medical research. The misguided reasons behind the veto are what we’ve come to expect but what surprised me was the veto itself. I could hardly believe that after all these years he had never vetoed a bill; are the house and senate so completely in line with his positions? As it turns out, no. Today we learned via The American Bar Association that Bush has been issuing so-called “signing statements” in unprecedented numbers throughout his terms. These notes, attached to signed-off bills, negate the approval of a bill either in whole or part. From the NY Times:
In the ABA panel report released Sunday, members said that these broad assertions of presidential power amount to a line-item veto and improperly deprive Congress of the opportunity to override the veto.
For example, in signing a statutory ban on torture and other national security laws approved by Congress, Bush reserved the right to disregard them.
These presidential signing statements allow bills to be passed into “law” with the explicit caveat that they can be ignored. Because the statement comes in the final stage of a bill’s life nobody can balk or override it. I should have known why Bush hasn’t vetoed any bills, that would be far too straight-forward and honest.