Constitution of the United States – Article I Sec 1
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
The authority to write new laws and amend old ones is assigned to Congress. Congress is divided into two chambers: a Senate, and a House of Representatives. This seems pretty simple and straightforward, but there are a few lines of thought that bear upon it.
The Line Item Veto Act of 1996 (104th Congress, S.4/H.R.3136) gave Clinton42 the power to delete portions of appropriation bills that Congress had agreed to.
SEC. 2. LINE ITEM VETO AUTHORITY.
(a) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding the provisions of part B of title X of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, and subject to the provisions of this section, the President may rescind all or part of any dollar amount of any discretionary budget authority specified in an appropriation Act or conference report or joint explanatory statement accompanying a conference report on the Act, or veto any targeted tax benefit which is subject to the terms of this Act if the President–
(1) determines that–
(A) such rescission or veto would help reduce the Federal budget deficit;
(B) such rescission or veto will not impair any essential Government functions; and
(C) such rescission or veto will not harm the national interest; and
(2) notifies the Congress of such rescission or veto by a special message not later than ten calendar days (not including Sundays) after the date of enactment of an appropriation Act providing such budget authority or a revenue or reconciliation Act containing a targeted tax benefit.
The authority was aimed specifically at budget bills, but I do not consider that relevant to the Constitutionality of it. It was authored by republicans and supported primarily by them. It was a cuts-only approach that overwhelmingly favored conservative ideology, and I am profoundly glad that we never found out how a republican President would abuse such power.
A Presidential line-item veto would be an authority that just begs to be abused.
It was ruled unconstitutional in 1998, but the point I want to make here is that it gave the President a legislative power. A power specifically allocated to Congress by the Constitution.
Negotiation and compromise are essential to democracy. It is the difference between democracy and totalitarianism. For the President to be able to modify the compromise reached by the Congress invalidates the entire process and corrupts democracy.
Presidential Signing Statements have been around for a long time, but Bush43 used it ruthlessly to functionally alter legislation to his liking – thus making them a de facto exercise of legislative power. It represents, in my opinion, the same corruption of the democratic process represented by the line-item veto. The American Bar Association reached the same conclusion. Signing Statements have also been used to infringe on the authority of the Judicial Branch.
Delegation of Legislative responsibilities to the Administrative Branch.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 deeply convoluted the legislative process by granting the President authority to raise Revenue through borrowing. It then turns around and allows Congress to challenge the actions they authorized, forcing a veto or a default. This was a purely partisan political move intended to shift responsibility (and political backlash) from Congress to the President. It was a contemptible perversion of the constitutional separation of powers.
- The Problem with Presidential Signing Statements: Their Use and Misuse by the Bush Administration
- THE LEGAL SIGNIFICANCE OF PRESIDENTIAL SIGNING STATEMENTS
- Bush challenges hundreds of laws
- Presidential Signing Statements
That’s a lot to read into a one-liner.
- SD Governor Has Debt Suggestions for Federal Govt (dakotavoice.com)
- Should Obama Get Line-Item Veto Power? (politics.usnews.com)
- Peter M. Shane: What May a President Do if He Cannot Pay Our Bills? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Paul Abrams: McConnell Plan Unconstitutional… Or Unnecessary (huffingtonpost.com)
- Guest Post from Prof. Larry Tribe on the Constitutionality of the Debt Ceiling (volokh.com)
- What Can the Treasury Legally Do if the Debt Ceiling Isn’t Raised? (theatlantic.com)
- GOP Reps On Debt Ceiling Debate: Obama Using Seniors, Military As ‘Human Shields’ In ‘Bluff’ (huffingtonpost.com)
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