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View Diary: Bush claims Senate's pro forma sessions don't count (374 comments)

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  •  Let's take a look at what he did. (5+ / 0-)

    He returned it, that's exhibit number one. Pocket vetoes don't get returned. That's what the pocket part is all about.

    And let's look at what he returned. When he has previously vetoed bills, Bush has sent something styled a "Message to the House of Representatives," which message contained an affirmative declaration that he was vetoing the bill.

    This time, Bush sent what he styled a "Memorandum of Disapproval," which nowhere says affirmatively that he's vetoing.

    So what is it?

    •  Is the text of his Memorandum on-line? (1+ / 0-)
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      It seems to me that as long as the Memorandum contained his objections to the bill, and it was returned to the originating house, he has vetoed it.

      Time Magazine's website (which is the gospel truth of all that happens in Washington Politics) says he vetoed it (which is probably something he was trying to avoid).

      "If we outlaw everything some people find offensive, there wouldn't even be a Texas in the first place." - Cindy Campos, Lifeguard

      by jandrewmorrison on Fri Dec 28, 2007 at 06:14:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Memorandum is here: (2+ / 0-)
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        rincewind, jandrewmorrison

        That's a reasonable interpretation of his intent. The monkey wrench in the works is that it doesn't say, "I'm vetoing this bill."

        The only mention of the veto comes in his claim that the pocket veto obtains, even though a pocket veto would by definition not be returned with objections.

        •  from the memo (0+ / 0-)

          I am also sending H.R. 1585 to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, along with this memorandum setting forth my objections, to avoid unnecessary litigation about the non-enactment of the bill that results from my withholding approval and to leave no doubt that the bill is being vetoed.

          Seems like he complied with the constitution, but was confused because there was nobody there when he went to return the bill.

          "If we outlaw everything some people find offensive, there wouldn't even be a Texas in the first place." - Cindy Campos, Lifeguard

          by jandrewmorrison on Fri Dec 28, 2007 at 06:43:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Clerk was there. (2+ / 0-)
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            JayBat, jandrewmorrison

            He says so. And that's important, because the case law says if the Congress can designate an agent to receive messages, that should be enough to eliminate the triggering of a pocket veto.

            He certainly crafted the memo in a way that makes it as confusing as possible, no doubt about that.

            He appears to comply with the minimum requirements of the Constitution with respect to return and setting forth objections. And the Constitution doesn't say he has to say it's a veto. But one likely question should be whether or not that requirement is implied. Otherwise, we'd have to ask what to do with a bill that got returned with a list of objections, but also with a message that said, "This is great!"

            Would that be a veto? I don't know.

            He complied with the return and listing of objections, but also indicated that this was meant to indicate his effecting of a pocket veto.

            So that's another question. What kind of veto is it? The kind he actually said he meant it to be? Or the kind he sort of complied with the rules for?

            •  Either way, Bush vetoed money for our troops. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rincewind, JanL

              I think focusing on which type of veto he used, or how the language that he used could be interpreted in a number of ways, or questions as to his knowledge of constitutional procedure are all missing the point.

              Bush vetoed his authority to spend the money appropriated to our troops.

              Now if he tries to spend the money prior to another appropriations bill coming out, then we will have a constitutional crisis.

              The only problem with what happened today is that the White House may have to file suit to try to stop Nancy Pelosi from bringing the returned bill to the floor to attempt to override this veto.

              The fact that he is claiming a "pocket veto" 8 days after he got the bill shows how insincere Bush is in making this claim that this is an "unusual type" of veto which is different than the others.

              "If we outlaw everything some people find offensive, there wouldn't even be a Texas in the first place." - Cindy Campos, Lifeguard

              by jandrewmorrison on Fri Dec 28, 2007 at 07:01:02 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think you're right... (0+ / 0-)

                about why he claimed to be using the pocket veto, not that it'll do him much good in the PR game.

                But I wonder whether he might not also claim the authority to simply spend the appropriated money without the authorizing bill, and then claim he's the hero who "cut through all the red tape" and gave the troops a raise while Congress dithered over the technicalities.

    •  But (0+ / 0-)

      What does it matter what he's done in the past? He could have sent a dozen roses with it, doesn't make it a requirement.

      Is there a requirement that the objections returned with the bill include a statement of veto that actually includes "an affirmative declaration that he was vetoing the bill"?  If so, that's the issue.  If not, then it doesn't matter.

      The section of the Constitution which appears relevant here doesn't say anything about affirmatively saying he's vetoing.  It just has to be returned with objections.

      •  We don't really know what it matters. (1+ / 0-)
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        Not yet, anyway. But it will make a difference.

        He returned the bill, but he returned it with a statement claiming to have pocket vetoed it.

        But the definition of a pocket veto precludes the return, doesn't it?

        If it's a legitimate pocket veto, it's not supposed to be subject to an override vote. But it's not supposed to be subject to an override vote because a legitimate pocket veto takes place during a period of time in which no Congress is sitting, having adjourned sine die. That's not the case here, though.

        So, deciding what kind of veto it is will make a difference in determining what, if anything, the Congress can do about it.

        If it's not a pocket veto, but is meant to be a regular one, and we accept this "memorandum of disapproval" as a veto message, then it means that presidents don't really need to stand up and say they've vetoed something.

        They can, in theory, send back a list of objections and a Valentine's Day card, and then refuse to say whether the bill has "been vetoed" or not, if they want to.

        Where does that leave Congress? Won't somebody want to know whether the bill has become a law or not?

        There's a colorable claim that a return plus a list of objections is all that's necessary, of course. But how difficult is the declaration, "I veto?" What would you do with a return and a list if the White House refused to answer any questions about it and just said, "Figure it out?"

        •  Lots to unpack there (0+ / 0-)

          He did two things.  He returned the bill and he issued a statement.  Did the statement go WITH the bill and his objections or was it issued concurrently?

          It seems to me that there are several possibilities and he's mostly just covering his ass.

          You put forth one possibility, that he's pocket vetoing because the House is not in session and thus he is allowed to do that.  If the House is not in session, then returning the bill to the House does nothing and doesn't matter because the House cannot accept it, thus pocket veto.

          But if he is NOT in a position to pocket veto because the House remains in a state of session such that the 10-day requirement would be in effect, then the bill is returned with objections, which would presumably (or at least possibly) qualify as a veto.  Given that, him simply standing up and saying "oh and also, pocket veto" doesn't matter because he's just saying it.  He's under no obligation to declare a pocket veto in the first place if the House is indeed out of session in such a manner to allow for a pocket veto.

          Your question "how difficult is the declaration 'I veto?'" obviously is, in one regard, very simple. It's easy to say, but why say it if there's any question about the consequences of saying so?

          You're correct that this will like have to be settled in court to establish whether a pocket veto is an available option given the circumstances.  And obviously that changes what action, if any, Congress can take.

          So I agree that this obviously raises an issue of law that needs to be settled.  But I think that Bush is essentially saying the same thing here.  That is, that he's not sure what he's allowed to do because existing law is ambiguous, so he's doing both in such a way that only whichever is ultimately deemed appropriate will remain in effect once the point is settled.

          •  I'm still at a loss... (0+ / 0-)

            as to what was wrong with a simple veto?

            There's no question but that he's allowed to just return the bill with a standard veto message. So if he wanted to do both for some reason, why not just do it?

            Why the "memorandum" without the words, "I veto this bill" in it, and claiming to be doing something else at the same time? He certainly didn't feel any need to couch his purported pocket veto claim in any cautionary language. Why then hide the ball on the standard veto language?

            •  I figure it's this (0+ / 0-)

              He'd prefer to pocket veto the thing if he can.  Since he's unsure of the legality there, he wants to make sure that it's at least vetoed straight up.  But if he uses the words "I veto this bill" in the process of returning the bill to the House, then it preempts the pocket veto if it turns out he was able to do it.  I'm not an expert on the intricacies of the relevant law, but I'm assuming that if he was only looking for a straight veto of the bill, he could do that whether the House is in session or not and it would just be pending for all intents and purposes.

              As it stands, he hasn't clearly stated that the bill has been cleanly vetoed, so he retains wiggle room if it turns out he IS able to pocket veto.  But if he's NOT able to pocket veto, then it doesn't become law from Presidential inaction.

            •  Political cover (0+ / 0-)

              it passed overwhelmingly... that it is a pocket veto that the democrats are trying to override illegally will give the congressional Rs a good reason to switch their vote.

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