After signing bills into laws, presidents have sometimes issued “signing statements” that assert their interpretation of the law or challenges – constitutional and otherwise – to provisions within the law and how they would be administered. This action picked up significantly under President Reagan and has been used by every president since.
President Trump’s signing statement accompanying the recently enacted Pentagon policy bill (National Defense Authorization Act) runs five pages and points out all the many provisions he is not planning on complying with. There’s a lot to digest in this refusal to follow dozens of aspects of the law just passed by the Congress.
But most importantly for a budget watchdog are the reports the President says he will not have the Pentagon submit to Congress. The statement says these sections, “…purport to mandate or regulate the dissemination of information that may be protected by executive privilege, including by interfering with Presidential control of the process for making a determination that information is protected.”
Several of the reports the President intends to suppress relate to arms control, nuclear, missile defense and cyber issues and the use of military force. But the signing statement also seems to protect Saudi Arabian interests by quashing two reports on the death of Jamal Khashoggi. And the interests of the Russian Federation and President Putin also seem to be prioritized.
Whistleblower disclosures are another apparent target. And, alarmingly, reporting on foreign influence operations in the United States are among the things the President doesn’t want the Administration reporting to Congress about.
This signing statement takes a huge bite out of Congressional oversight. And when oversight dwindles, wasteful spending and outright fraud can flourish.
Below is a list of the reporting requirements identified in one section of the signing statement. You can refer to the bill text to read the sections or subsections the President intends to ignore. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Taxpayers for Common Sense website.