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Presidential Signing Statements Affecting Government Information

As most informed people are aware, President Bush has been very active in producing Presidential signing statements that appear to indicate portions of laws signed that the Executive branch will either not carry out at all, or will carry out according to the President’s interpretation.

We at Free Government Information have noticed recent Presidential signing statements that appear to waive a number of reporting requirements, either to Congress or to the American people. We do not approve of this. In the spirit of sunshine being the best disinfectant, we have decided to collect signing statements where the President appears to state that he will not honor an Act of Congress to provide information.

Since the President has used this hidden and untested veto power hundreds of times according to some accounts, we at FGI are hoping that you will send us instances of earlier siging statements that ignore reporting requirements. Here is a searchable database that includes signing statements to get you started.

Here’s what we have so far:

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  1. bill werner says:

    I am having a hard time locating a recent signing statement where Bush has now decided that all federal agencies will have a political appointee that will review material before it is released to the public. In essence he has now institutionized handlers like they have in authoritarian countries. I would be in your debt if you could steer me in the right direction. I briefly found an article at TPMmuckraker.com by Paul Kiel but now I can’t find it again.

  2. dcornwall says:

    Hi Bill,

    These sorts of questions are better asked through e-mail or through one of the resources on our Where to find gov’t information pages.

    But since your question was about signing statements, I’ll bite.

    You’re actually looking for Executive Order 12866 which states in part:

    Sec. 5. Section 6 is amended as follows:

    (a) by inserting in section 6(a)(1) “In consultation with OIRA, each agency may also consider whether to utilize formal rulemaking procedures under 5 U.S.C. 556 and 557 for the resolution of complex determinations” after “comment period of not less than 60 days.”

    (b) by amending the first sentence of section 6(a)(2) to read as follows: “Within 60 days of the date of this Executive order, each agency head shall designate one of the agency’s Presidential Appointees to be its Regulatory Policy Officer, advise OMB of such designation, and annually update OMB on the status of this designation.”

    You can find a list of all publicly issued Executive Orders by President Bush at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/orders/.

    Hope this helps!

    “And besides all that, what we need is a decentralized, distributed system of depositing electronic files to local libraries willing to host them.” — Daniel Cornwall, tipping his hat to Cato the Elder for the original quote.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Until recently, I have never seen the term “signing statement”. In the end result, what is the difference between signing statement and EO? Also, are you aware of the constitutionality of either?

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