The New York Times' Charlie Savage reports Wednesday morning that on Tuesday, after signing two measures into law, President Bush issued a signing statement declaring the executive branch exempt from provisions in both bills. One of the bills was a military authorization act and the other granted inspectors general greater autonomy from White House interference.
In the signing statement, Bush asserted that four sections of the military spending authorization act would "purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the president's ability to carry out his constitutional obligations." Savage writes that Bush specifically challenged parts of the act that would have "forbid the [defense] money from being used 'to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq'; another required negotiations for an agreement by which Iraq would share some of the costs of the American military operations there."
As Savage also points out, Bush has issued signing statements asserting his authority to ignore over 1,100 sections of laws, while all previous presidents had disputed only about 600 sections of bills. Savage has been a longtime chronicler of Bush's unprecedented use of signing statements and won a Pulitzer Prize for his Boston Globe series on the practice. In April 2007, he told Salon's Glenn Greenwald that, "in his signing statements, Bush was asserting that the president, as commander-in-chief and head of the 'unitary' executive branch, has the power to set aside laws in which Congress has sought to restrict his power or to regulate the federal government. This view seemed to have momentous implications for the constitutional system of checks and balances."