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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Another broken promise from Obama

On December 20, 2007, then-Senator and candidate Barack Hussein Obama said the following to the Boston Globe:
4. Under what circumstances, if any, would you sign a bill into law but also issue a signing statement reserving a constitutional right to bypass the law?

Signing statements have been used by presidents of both parties, dating back to Andrew Jackson. While it is legitimate for a president to issue a signing statement to clarify his understanding of ambiguous provisions of statutes and to explain his view of how he intends to faithfully execute the law, it is a clear abuse of power to use such statements as a license to evade laws that the president does not like or as an end-run around provisions designed to foster accountability.

I will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law. The problem with this administration is that it has attached signing statements to legislation in an effort to change the meaning of the legislation, to avoid enforcing certain provisions of the legislation that the President does not like, and to raise implausible or dubious constitutional objections to the legislation. The fact that President Bush has issued signing statements to challenge over 1100 laws – more than any president in history – is a clear abuse of this prerogative. No one doubts that it is appropriate to use signing statements to protect a president's constitutional prerogatives; unfortunately, the Bush Administration has gone much further than that.
Now we know why it took Obama all day on Saturday to sign the defense appropriations bill that includes those new sanctions against Iran: He issued a signing statement undermining Congressional intent. And at least one Senator (Mark Kirk, R-Il) is furious about it.
In a statement issued as he signed a defense bill into law on Saturday, Obama said several provisions including the sanctions that target Iran's central bank "would interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations."

The president, a Democrat, said in his statement that if any application of these provisions conflicted with his constitutional authorities, "I will treat the provisions as non-binding."

Senator Mark Kirk, one of the authors of the new sanctions on Iran, said on Tuesday that Obama was challenging the entire US Senate if he did not implement the new sanctions, because senators approved them unanimously before they were appended to the defense bill.

"With the Senate voting 100-0 to cripple the Central Bank of Iran, the president's signing statement hinting he will ignore parts of this law risks overwhelming opposition in the Congress," Kirk, a Republican, said through a spokesman.

The new sanctions would penalize foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran's central bank, the main conduit for its oil revenues.


Christopher Kelley, a Miami University of Ohio professor who has researched presidential signing statements, said he found at least 10 instances in Obama's statement on the defense bill when he challenged the bill's constitutionality, although there may be more.

"Saying things like 'I will treat it as non-binding' is a clear constitutional challenge," Kelley said in an email to Reuters.
Given that Kirk - Menendez passed by a unanimous vote, perhaps it's time for the Senate to step up to the plate and pass an Iran sanctions bill that does not contain a way for the President to avoid imposing the sanctions.

But once again Obama has broken a promise. we can add this one to the list.

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