Obama In ’08: We Are Not Going To Use Signing Statements

In 2008, Obama Promised He Would Not Use Signing Statements “As A Way Of Doing An End Run Around Congress.” QUESTION: “When Congress offers you a bill, do you promise not to use presidential signage to get your way?” OBAMA: “Yes. Let me just explain for those who are unfamiliar with this issue. You know, we’ve got a government designed by the founders so that there’d be checks and balances. You don’t want a President who’s too powerful or a Congress who’s too powerful or courts that are too powerful. Everybody’s got their own role. Congress’ job is to pass legislation. The President can veto it, or he can sign it. But what George Bush has been trying to do is part of his effort to accumulate more power in the Presidency, is, he’s been saying, ‘Well, I can basically change what Congress passed by attaching a letter saying ‘I don’t agree with this part’ or ‘I don’t agree with that part.’ I’m going to choose to interpret it this way or that way.’ Uh, that’s not part of his power. But this is part of the whole theory of George Bush that he can make laws as he’s going along. I disagree with that. I taught the Constitution for ten years, I believe in the Constitution, and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end run around Congress.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Campaign Event At Billings West High School, Billings, MT, 5/19/08)

This Week, Obama Issued A Signing Statement Explaining His Decision To Approve The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act Despite His Opposition To Several Provisions, Including One Effectively Prohibiting The Closure Of Guantanamo. “President Barack Obama signed a major defense bill Wednesday, notwithstanding public veto threats the White House issued with regard to earlier versions of the legislation. Obama issued a written ‘signing statement’ explaining his decision to approve the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act despite his objections to various aspects of the measure, including provisions that effectively thwart his efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects and give military members the right to refuse to take certain actions that violate their conscience.” (Josh Gerstein, “Obama Signs Defense Bill, Notes Regrets,” Politico's Under The Radar, 1/3/13)

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