Washington, DC—Reps. Barney Frank and Edward Markey introduced H.J. Res. 87, a resolution to condemn the practice of exerting presidential authority to set aside any statute passed by Congress and create a system to monitor and seek redress from the President’s assertion that he may ignore the duly enacted laws of Congress. According to an April 30 article in the Boston Globe, “President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.” According to Frank and Markey, the executive branch’s practice of issuing signing statements has reached extraordinary new levels and tests the constitutionality of this procedure. President Bush has clearly chosen to ignore his Constitutional oath to, “take care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
“We are frustrated by the fact that the Supreme Court will not entertain a direct challenge, so we are doing everything we can to condemn this effort,” said Congressman Barney Frank. “Instead of vetoing laws passed by Congress, President Bush is using his signing statements to in effect invalidate them as they relate to the executive branch. We are opposed to this abuse and clear disrespect for our constitutional form of government.”
“This Administration, working with a supine Republican Congress, is trying to systematically arrogate to the executive branch the power to decide which laws to bother enforcing. If one definition of American patriotism is adherence to our constitutionally-mandated system of checks and balances, President Bush is falling into some new and troubling category with every new signing statement,” said Congressman Ed Markey.
Several Presidents have made signing statements signaling their intention to ignore provisions of laws duly enacted by Congress on the grounds of alleged unconstitutionality, however, President Bush has claimed the power to ignore provisions in more laws than all Presidents combined.
Below is the text of the H.J. Res. 87:
Whereas the Constitution requires that Presidents “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,”
Whereas the Constitution does not grant Presidents authority to choose which duly enacted provisions of laws they will obey,
Whereas the practice of selective enforcement of the laws is inconsistent with our constitutional form of government, and
Whereas several previous Presidents have made signing statements signaling their intention to ignore provisions of laws duly enacted by Congress on constitutional grounds, and
Whereas President George W. Bush has asserted his intent to ignore such provisions more than all other Presidents combined,
The House of Representatives hereby resolves that:
The President's assertion of the right to ignore a duty violates our constitutional framework by substituting an unchecked presidential prerogative for the role of Congress and the constitutional veto procedure.
Within 30 days of the passage of this Resolution, the President shall provide to the Congress the text of statements he has signed indicating his intent to ignore a provision of law duly enacted by Congress.
Whenever the President determines to ignore a provision of law duly enacted by Congress, the President shall within ten days of such determination (or with respect to determinations made prior to this resolution within ten days of the passage of this resolution) issue a report informing the Congress of such determination. The report shall also contain the explanation for the President’s determination, provided that if the determination requires the use of classified information, the President may make such explanation solely to the full Select Committee on Intelligence.
Whenever the President has issued a report under section 2, or whenever there are reasonable grounds to believe that the President has determined to ignore a provision of law duly enacted by Congress, it shall be in order for a Member to introduce a bill or resolution responsive to the President’s determination. Such proposed legislation shall be assigned to the appropriate Committee or Committees within one legislative day or else it will have the highest privilege and can be brought for the floor for debate and a vote upon the motion of the sponsor. If referred by the Speaker to the appropriate Committee or Committees for consideration, the bill or resolution shall lie before those Committees, and the Committee(s) shall report the bill or resolution, or a recommendation against any legislation, within 30 days of the privileged motion. Within seven days thereafter, the House shall take up the bill or resolution reported by the Committee(s) or, if no bill has been reported, the legislation proposed in the original motion as amended by the maker of the motion.
Whenever the President has made a report under section 2, or whenever there are reasonable grounds to believe that the President has determined to ignore a provision of law duly enacted by the Congress, the General Counsel of the House, upon the request of any Member, shall promptly prepare a report to the House describing any litigation that might be brought by the House of by individual Members challenging the President’s action.
For Immediate Release