When Is A Signature A Veto?

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Bush has, yet again, issued a signing statement that directly contradicts sections of the law being signed. With the Democrats coming into control of congress, will this practice finally precipitate a constitutional crisis.

The signing statements relate to a law just passed by Congress that allows for the sharing of civilian nuclear technology with India -- something the U.S. hasn't done for 30 years.

In the law, Congress put in a number of requests that certain safeguards and protocols be followed. One such stipulation asked the president to report to congress annually as to whether India is cooperating with efforts to curtain Iran's nuclear ambitions. Bush's signing statement stipulates that his signing the law "does not constitute my adoption of the statements of policy (in the law) as U.S. foreign policy."

Another stipulation, which was touted as an important safeguard that makes the adoption of the law a formality of little significance, is the intention that transfers of materials to India be within the guidelines of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group. Bush's statement declares such requirements in the law to be merely "advisory."

Bush's practice of signing statements is a threat to our governments system of checks and balances. Instead of vetoing legislation he disagrees with, he just gives himself permission not to follow the parts he doesn't like.


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