The people's trust in their government is undermined by congressional earmarks -- special interest projects that are often snuck in at the last minute, without discussion or debate. Last year, I asked you to voluntarily cut the number and cost of earmarks in half. I also asked you to stop slipping earmarks into committee reports that never even come to a vote. Unfortunately, neither goal was met. So this time, if you send me an appropriations bill that does not cut the number and cost of earmarks in half, I'll send it back to you with my veto. (Applause.)
And tomorrow, I will issue an executive order that directs federal agencies to ignore any future earmark that is not voted on by Congress. If these items are truly worth funding, Congress should debate them in the open and hold a public vote. (Applause.)
As he said it, I immediately thought of the hypocrisy of this statement coming from someone who has made a particularly widespread use of signing statements. Now it turns out he'd issued one just earlier that day--that would attempt to establish permanent military bases in Iraq (or at least legalize the ones he's already put there. Think progress has more, here...
President Bush yesterday signed the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act after initially rejecting Congress’s first version because it would have allegedly opened the Iraqi government to “expensive lawsuits.”
Even though he forced Congress to change its original bill, Bush’s signature yesterday came with a little-noticed signing statement, claiming that provisions in the law “could inhibit the President’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations.” CQ reports on the provisions Bush plans to disregard:
One such provision sets up a commission to probe contracting fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another expands protections for whistleblowers who work for government contractors. A third requires that U.S. intelligence agencies promptly respond to congressional requests for documents. And a fourth bars funding for permanent bases in Iraq and for any action that exercises U.S. control over Iraq’s oil money.
In his “Memorandum of Justification” for the waiver, Bush cited his Nov. 26 “Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship” between Iraq and the United States. This agreement has been aggressively opposed by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress as not only unprecedented, but also potentially unconstitutional because it was enacted without the agreement of the legislation branch.
Today on CNN, Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) voiced concern that this declaration may indefinitely commit U.S. troops to fighting Iraq’s civil wars:
Involved in those declaration of principles, there is an implicit potential for the United States military forces, years from now, being involved in a full-blown civil war in Iraq. And I don’t believe that’s where the American people want us and I don’t think that’s in the best interest of our national security.
Earlier this month, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced legislation requiring the Bush administration “to consult with Congress before moving forward with any agreement that could lead to long term security arrangements and other major economic and political commitments.”
Throughout his presidency, Bush has issued more than 151 signing statements challenging 1149 provisions of laws.