The Latest Obama Signing Statement
Talk about a minor technicality!
President Obama issued a signing statement yesterday objecting to one minor item in the monster Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. At issue is whether Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has to consult with lawmakers when making appointments to an obscure commission.
The omnibus comprises more than 150 individual bills that, among other things, designate roughly two million acres of new wilderness areas, create ten new National Heritage Areas and authorize a big land swap between USDA’s Forest Service, DOI’s Bureau of Land Management, DOI’s National Park Service, and a bunch of state, local and private groups.
Obama's signing statement raises objections to Section 8203, which "provides that the Secretary of the Interior shall appoint certain members of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission 'based on recommendations from each member of the House of Representatives, the district of which encompasses the Corridor.'"
A quick check of the map finds that Salazar would have to account for the recommendations of at least seven Upstate New York lawmakers.
Obama, on the advice of Justice Department lawyers, argues otherwise: "Because it would be an impermissible restriction on the appointment power to condition the Secretary's appointments on the recommendations of members of the House, I will construe these provisions to require the Secretary to consider such congressional recommendations, but not to be bound by them in making appointments to the Commission."
The president has said he will use signing statements sparingly, but he issued his first one earlier this month after signing the omnibus spending bill. It raised similar objections about the varying powers of the executive and legislative branches.
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