Report: GOP Senator seeks to limit presidential signing statements
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The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee quietly reintroduced a bill before Congress recessed last week aimed at reining in President Bush's ability to modify laws to his whims, Roll Call reports. Critics and watchdog agencies say Bush's use of signing statements allows him and federal agencies to ignore provisions of the law and Congress's intent.
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter called President Bush's abuse of the signing statements an "unconstitutional attempt to usurp legislative authority." He introduced his Presidential Signing Statements Act of 2007 on Friday, according to the Capitol Hill newspaper.
"The president cannot use a signing statement to rewrite the words of a statute nor can he use a signing statement to selectively nullify those provisions he does not like," Roll Call reported Specter said on the floor of the Senate.
Specter's bill would prevent the president from issuing a signing statement that alters a statute's meaning by "instructing federal and state courts not to rely on presidential signing statements in interpreting a statute," Roll Call reported. His measure also would give Congress a heightened role in court cases involving an interpretation of law in an existing statement by allowing Congress to file briefs and present oral arguments in the cases.
The Government Accountability Office found in mid-June that in several cases the administration did not execute laws as Congress intended when Bush attached a signing statement to them.
�This is a finely structured constitutional procedure that goes straight to the heart of our system of check and balances,� Specter said, according to Roll Call. �Any action by the president that circumvents this finely structured procedure is an unconstitutional attempt to usurp legislative authority. If the president is permitted to rewrite the bills that Congress passes and cherry-pick which provisions he likes and does not like, he subverts the constitutional process designed by our framers.�