GOP Rep. Hits Bush On 'Signing Statements'
A House Republican lawmaker has fired a shot across President Bush's bow over his frequent use of "Presidential Signing Statements" to give his opinion on -- or to even express his intent to ignore -- laws passed by Congress.
Though signing statements have long been used by past presidents, they have become a source of particular controversy during Bush's tenure. Various press reports -- most notably a Pulitzer-winning series by the Boston Globe -- have documented Bush's aggressive use of the documents, prompting critics to deem the practice an unconstitutional end-run around Congress.
Now, GOP Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.) has introduced a bill requiring such statements to be disclosed more quickly and more publicly, and "require executive staff to testify on the meaning and justification for presidential signing statements at the request of the House or Senate Judiciary Committee."
Jones' bill obviously wouldn't ban the practice of issuing such statements, but it might provide House Democrats with nice fodder for more public excoriation of the Bush administration's alleged hubris and secrecy. It helps Democrats' case that Jones is a Republican, though the North Carolinian has made a habit of late of bucking his party, most prominently on the Iraq war.
One more note on Jones: Given that he hails from a heavily Republican district with strong military ties, some in the GOP thought he might be vulnerable in last Tuesday's party primary against Joe McLaughlin, a former Army officer. McLaughlin made Jones' opposition to the Iraq war the central focus of his challenge to the incumbent. But Jones beat McLaughlin by 20 points, so he won't be going anywhere for awhile.
He may even be around to see an end to the use of signing statements, since Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said he won't issue them if elected president. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) have both criticized Bush for his handling of the statements, but they haven't gone as far as McCain in vowing to stop writing them altogether.
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