Signing Statement Hearing
Our hearing today is on presidential signing statements. So far, the Bush White House has issued nearly 150 signing statements challenging over 1,100 provisions of law.
More than all previous presidents combined.
What does this mean? We don’t know. When the White House issues a signing statement indicating they do not feel bound by an Act of Congress, we don’t know if they have actually acted to violate that law.
The signing statement surely indicates intent to ignore laws and contempt for Congress and the constitution, but the administration has never had to explain the extent to which it has acted upon these signing statements.
Our hearing this morning will ask these questions and convey forcefully the message from Congress that we no longer give license to the Bush White House to ignore the constitution and govern in secret.
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Is Bush Violating the Law?
When the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage first wrote about Bush's use of these stealthy statements more than a year ago, neither the Washington press corps nor the Republican-controlled Congress expressed any enthusiasm about getting to the bottom of this important Constitutional riddle.
"Conyers said the president has no power 'to ignore duly enacted laws he has negotiated with Congress and signed.'
House panel will probe president's use of bill-signing statements
Democrats and some Republican lawmakers have accused Bush of conducting an imperial presidency by using bill signing statements to declare that he'll interpret legislative provisions his way and will feel free to ignore some terms.
"That conduct threatens to deprive the American people of one of the basic rights of democracy - the right to elect representatives who determine what the law is, subject only to the president's veto," Conyers said as he opened a hearing on signing statements. "That does not mean having a president sign those laws, but then say that he is free to carry them out or not, as only he sees fit."