Obama Reviews Bush’s Use of Signing Statements

Posted March 9, 2009 at 1:31pm

Updated: 5:15 p.m.President Barack Obama on Monday promised to use legislative signing statements to adjust laws if they are found to be unconstitutional, avoiding what critics said was former President George W. Bush’s practice of using the statements to alter the intent of legislation.The new policy, included in a memorandum from Obama to government agencies, directs the agencies to not rely on Bush’s signing statements in implementing legislation. Agencies must check with the attorney general, the statement says, to ensure that the signing statements issued before Monday conform to Obama’s approach.Bush was frequently criticized by lawmakers for his use of the statements; some Members felt he was trying to counter the will of Congress with the stroke of a pen.“The previous administration issued hundreds and hundreds of signing statements that specifically entailed through those signing statements that people disregard portions of legislation or the intent of Congress,— White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. Gibbs said Obama wants to revert signing statements to what he described as their traditional use: flagging potential constitutional problems with laws.Obama will “simply enumerate what problems might be inherent in a piece of legislation, without asking that the federal government disallow or ignore Congressional intent,— Gibbs said.