Bush: Congress Doesn't Exist Unless I Say It Does

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Dec 28, 2007 at 18:09

As Kagro X details over at Daily Kos, Bush is now claiming a "pocket veto" on the Defense Authorization Bill even though Congress is still in session. In other words, Bush is claiming a right that the Constitution explicitly deems only exists unless Congress is not in session, even though Congress actually is in session.

If Congress can't even determine when it is in session without Bush's agreement, then it is time to do one of two things. First, either abolish Congress altogether, or impeach Bush. After all, the logical conclusion of what Bush is doing here is that he can declare Congress either in or out of session whenever he wishes. In other words, Congress has no power whatsoever to check and balance anything Bush does. It doesn't even have the power to exist unless Bush says it does. If everything else Bush has done so far does not merit impeachment, then surely this level of existential crises does.

Just impeach him already. If you have no power under Bush, and if Bush sets aside the Constitution if an when he pleases, then the only thing left to do to protect Congress and the Constitution is get rid of Bush.

Update: As Lucas O'Connor says in the comments, just because Bush is declaring this a pocket veto, doesn't mean it is a pocket veto. If Congress is still in session, and Bush doesn't act on the bill, simply declare the bill to be law. Then, if the Bush administration refuses to execute the law, start impeaching everyone who refuses to execute it as such.
Chris Bowers :: Bush: Congress Doesn't Exist Unless I Say It Does

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I know, this shit is getting out-of-hand and Reid and Pelosi are (0.00 / 0)
goddam jokes.

I am getting to the point where I could care less if we even retain any "majorities" in the Congress because it's clear Congress doesn't have any power anymore and, worse, doesn't WANT any power anymore.

Fuck em.  Congress, you are an EMBARRASSMENT and are a fucking joke.  The Duma has more independent power under Putin than Pelosi and Reid have under Bush.  They ought to be ashamed.  Afraid of their own shadows.  Pathetic.

For some reason, it seems that Obama has some pathological and deep-seated psychological need for Republicans to like him.  Seriously.  It's weird.

On the other hand (4.00 / 3)
Bush just declaring that Congress isn't in session doesn't necessarily make it so.  If he waits ten days excepting Sundays without doing anything while Congress is in session, then tough shit, it becomes a law and he was too lazy and/or stupid to sign it.

All that said, it would take a Congress willing to fight for that, and I'm not convinced we have such a Congress.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

Good point (4.00 / 1)
That seems like the next logical step. Simply declare the bill to be law, and if Bush refuses to follow it as such, then impeach him.

[ Parent ]
well, wouldn't a suit in the Supreme Court solve the problem? (4.00 / 1)
I mean, this Congress wouldn't impeach Benedict Arnold.  I doubt they'd impeach executive branch officials for not implementing the law.

For some reason, it seems that Obama has some pathological and deep-seated psychological need for Republicans to like him.  Seriously.  It's weird.

[ Parent ]
You are missing the bigger picture (0.00 / 0)
All that is needed is a 2/3 override in both chambers to pass the bill. If time has expired on this bill then send it up again if you have 2/3. If you don't have 2/3 than all everyone here including yourself is doing is huffing and puffing over nothing.

[ Parent ]
No (4.00 / 1)
If Bush doesn't sign it in the allotted time (10 days excepting Sunday), it's a passed law not a veto and so 2/3 doesn't come into play.  It has the same effect as if Bush signed it.  Then the issue becomes enforcement of the law.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
hence bringing suit in the Supreme Court to get the law enforced. (0.00 / 0)
But it may be a case of first impression as I do not recall anything like this in constitutional law.

For some reason, it seems that Obama has some pathological and deep-seated psychological need for Republicans to like him.  Seriously.  It's weird.

[ Parent ]
I Understand the 10 Day Rule (0.00 / 0)
As I said in my original post in this thread below I went and researched it just like you apparently did.

But what you are missing in the original post at Dkos is this paragraph from Bush's statement"

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.

So what Bush is doing is twofold: He is exercising both of his options under a veto. the first one, the pocket veto as you pointed out is invalid. the second option is the one most used in a veto and that is sending it back to congress for consideration of his objections and a redrafting as such - or - a 2/3 veto override by both chambers.

So it is  the option in the quote above that is in play here and is perfectly legal is Bush's case.

So again I wonder if we have enough votes for a 2/3 override or will the bill have to be changed to bush's satisfaction in order to get signed.

You see even if the pocket veto is invalid he also exercised a valid way of vetoing the bill so he has his ass covered.

[ Parent ]
Actually, there's another wrinkle (0.00 / 0)
here's the rub:
It seems that under the Constitution, the veto is exercised by returning the bill to the chamber from which it originated.  The "pocket veto" arises from not signing it within the 10 day window, while the Congress is in a recess, which "prevents the President from returning it to the Congress."
In this case, the Senate is NOT in recess (thus preventing "recess appointments") but the House IS in recess.  Correct me here if I've got this wrong, but, as I understand it, only the Senate has arranged for pro forma sessions during this period, not the House.  Therefore, arguably, the House, the chamber from which this money bill originated and to which it must be returned for a conventional veto, is not in session. 
Hence, the President has, I think, tried to cover two possible outcomes of a Constitutional ambiguity, asserting both a "pocket veto", if the recess of one chamber is deemed a recess of Congress, and a conventional veto (by return of the bill to the House) if the recess of the House alone is not deemed a recess of Congress.
There remains, I think, at least one more linguistically plausible Constitutional reading, namely a gap, namely whether a Bill can be vetoed by return to the Clerk of a chamber that is not in session.  If not, then Bush's maneuver doesn't quite cover all bases. 

[ Parent ]
I think you're probably right (0.00 / 0)
After going back over it, essentially he's both vetoing AND pocket vetoing the bill to cover his bases.

Which begs the question why he's tapdancing around it rhetorically.  It begs the larger question as to why the House isn't also remaining in session specifically for this reason, but that's probably a broader discussion.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
Bush is not tap dancing (0.00 / 0)
He is covering all the bases. The one who is confusing everyone here is KagroX with his bad reporting and analysis.

Read my post below for further clarification.

[ Parent ]
That's not what the case law says. (0.00 / 0)
The case law on pocket vetoes appears to say the presence of either House means Congress is in session. The Constitution says "the Congress" has to have adjourned, not any particular house. This despite the fact that the founders took care in every other clause in Article I, section 7 to differentiate between the houses.

The case law says when the Constitution says "Congress" it means the entirety of Congress. It further says that each house may designate agents to receive veto messages, thereby destroying the ability to claim non-returnability of vetoed bills. The House's agent is the Clerk of the House.

The only time a house cannot designate an agent is when it's adjourned sine die, meaning it technically doesn't exist.

The Congress is not adjourned, and the House is not adjourned sine die.

See Wright v. U.S., 302 US 583 (1938) and Kennedy v. Sampson, 511 F.2d 430 (1974).

[ Parent ]
I think you're wong but I have a solution (0.00 / 0)
First, this action is something that every President since Ford has done. So the idea that it's worthy of impeachment -- when we failed to rally the public towards impeachment for warrantless wiretapping or the manipulation of intelligence to send us to war -- is silly IMHO.

Second, the Congress did adjourn, pursuant to Senate Concurrent Resolution 61. And the House adjourned sine dine, pursuant to Senate Concurrent Resolution 61. To wit: the Congressional Record, House of Representatives - December 19, 2007, Entry No. 100: "The Speaker Pro Tempore: In accordance with Senate Concurrent Resolution 61, 110th Congress, the Chair declares the House[sic] first session of the 110th Congress adjourned sine die." Just because the Senate is meeting does not abrogate the Concurrent Resolution (the action of the Congress) setting a sine die adjournment.

Third, the pocket veto is essentially an option that CONGRESS chooses. If Congrees chooses NOT to be in session on the 10th day (Sundays excepted) following the presentation of a bill to the President, and the President chooses not to sign it, then the bill is pocket vetoed. Congress has the power in this situation -- ALL WE NEED TO DO IS COME BACK INTO SESSION ON MONDAY December 31! And Section 3 of the adjourment resolution permits the Speaker (after consultation with the Minority Leader) to reconvene the House at such time and place if, in her judgment, "the public interest shall warrant it." All the Speaker has to do is declare that the House is coming back on the 31st, convene the House, maybe have a speech, and go into recess to await a message from the President. That would force him to actually veto the bill and return it to the House; if he fails, it would become a law without his signature. Once he returns the bill, move to postpone consideration until a day certain and then adjourned the House sine die again. Really, it's very simple. The only question is if the Repubs would allow a motion to postpone consideration without forcing a roll call vote. But this pocket veto idea isn't new and the House could - by a very simple action - get around all of it and force the President's hand.

[ Parent ]
Carter didn't do it. (0.00 / 0)
That's a small point, but it wasn't every president since Ford. It was every president since Reagan, after Nixon's attempt at it was rebuked by the courts.

Which means two things: one, that it should surprise no one that the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II administrations have all done it, because they all shared the same legal personnel, and have all been dedicated to the rollback of the checks on presidential power put in place post-Nixon, and; two, that electing a Democrat to the White House has not to date had any tendency to roll back expansions of executive power, but has rather left them in place (or indeed expanded them through continuous exercise) so that they could be ramped up by the next Republican administration.

Regardless of what the House might have done, however, the ruling in Wright v. United States certainly appears to insist on the adjournment sine die of the entire Congress, not merely one of the two houses. Art. I, sec. 7 very carefully delineates between "the Congress" and the two houses which comprise it, then winds up its description of the circumstances necessary for what became known as the pocket veto by insisting that "the Congress" be adjourned.

Which it isn't. Because the Senate isn't.

[ Parent ]
The pocket veto (0.00 / 0)
isn't even an issue here. As said elsewhere Bush also exercised his option to send the bill back to the House to consider his objections.

In other words Bush exercised BOTH of his veto options available to him and the one where he sent it back to the House is completely proper which makes any arguments about a pocket veto null and void.

[ Parent ]
You Are Regurgitating what Has Already Been Said (0.00 / 0)
in this thread.

Try reading this entire thread particularly the posts that point out how Bush exercised BOTH of his veto options. You are missing half of what he did - and the most important half at that.

By exercising his option to to sent the bill back to the House that originated the bill with his objections (which are in this thread and in today's news) and giving them the chance of changing the parts he objected to makes the pocket veto mean absolutely nothing because sending it back to the House to be entered in their journal is absolutely proper if congress is in session - and they in fact are in session.

You missed that part of his actions in your Dkos post and solely focused on the pocket veto. In fact you are still focusing on the pocket veto which is only one half of the action that he took. When you focus on the other half as explained then you will see the pocket veto isn't even in play here.

Pelosi and Reid already addressed this veto late yesterday and the only thing they pointed out that they wished Bush would have brought up his objections to the US/Iraq lawsuit portion of the bill before they sent it up to him so they could address that portion of the bill upfront. They said absolutely nothing about the pocket veto or him taking the second option also of sending it back to the House because they know him sending it back to the House is absolutely proper.

[ Parent ]
I thought the case law was a new addition. (4.00 / 1)
I also think he exercised his ordinary veto options in an incomplete and ambiguous manner.

The reason I continue to focus on the pocket veto is because that's what's lending the ambiguity to his written message. He's exercising the physical requirements of a traditional veto, and including a written declaration that it's not a traditional veto.

That means something.

The House can choose to ignore it, but that just kicks the can down the road, which is a position for which I criticize them.

Pelosi and Reid have addressed this veto. And I take exception with their understanding of it. We still do occasionally use the blogs to register that disagreement, and I'm doing it.

If that offends you personally, well, wow.

[ Parent ]
You Sure Like To Chase your Tail A Lot (0.00 / 1)
How many hundreds of arguments have you made that go nowhere and you are the only one making them? Many hundreds.

Chase your tail if you must but this is a pretty cut and dry case that will get rectified in an unspectacular manner - that being the working out of the objectionable Iraq/USA court language. I don't think anyone is going to hold up the language favoring military pay and veterans benefits and the rest of the bill in favor of Iraq/USA court cases.

And they certainly are not going to go down your path and Jump The Shark with you. The problem with some bloggers who have to write about something everyday is that they tend stre-e-e-e-tch every issue beyond anything reasonable. Hence the DC label of "Idiot Liberals".

BTW - your argument above makes no sense. All you seem to care about is criticizing.

As to your "disagreement" with Pelosi/Reid personally offending me - not hardly - there are far more important thing in life. But it would be fair to say that it amuses me.

End of story for me and most everyone else. You on the other hand...

[ Parent ]
Boo hoo. Poor, abused you! (0.00 / 0)
I like to think about the ramifications of things. You don't.

What a tragedy!

Does Congress like to think about the ramifications of such things? No, not really. And I've been pretty clear about what I think they'll do: make no decision on what kind of veto it is, and just send a new bill without the objectionable provisions.

I like thinking about what it might really mean, though.

How tragic for you that I do this! Woe unto you! Everyone shed a tiny tear for the poor, put-upon progressivesouls!

Here it is! ----> '

Reparations! Reparations!

Everyone look at progressivesouls! He's saying something! Look! Look! Admire him! Look!

Whatever, dude. Keep talking about how you don't really care about this. At great length. It's totally convincing.

[ Parent ]
Correction: (0.00 / 0)
Amused not Abused. :)

And who is talex? And why should he or me for that matter be banned from anywhwere? All I am doing is expressing an opinion. People here on this site offer differing opinions about issues and even of Matt and Chris's opinions all the time. People at Dkos do too. Same at Greenwald's.

There is no harm in that - blogs are all about opinions and corrections in case you haven't noticed. You have something against differing opinions and corrections?

Ever read Big Tent Democrat at TalkLeft? He talks about other bloggers opinions all the time including you. Kos has criticized other bloggers. So have you. It's a two way-steet. Reap what you sow. If you want to blog then you have to accept the grand bargain.

Banning is for sissies who can't take the heat of another persons opinion. It's for people who want to live in a bubble.

Banning is Bush-like, not Democratic-like. Bush hand picks his audiences so he won't have to hear differing opinions or get criticized. Why do you want to act like Bush?

Trying to silence people does not make you more right - it makes you more wrong. Why do you want to be like  Musharraf?

If you want to be a Democrat then act like one and not a two-bit egotistical con man or a dictator.


[ Parent ]
Who's talex? (0.00 / 0)
I believe you're talex. The guy who's been banned -- and no, not by me, so you can save your cries of "dictator" -- from Daily Kos under four or five different names, for exactly this kind of general asshattery.

And what a fascinating recovery you now try to make. After dipping immediately into your pool of invective while I tried to actually address your objections, the moment I return a little fire, it's "Oh my! I'm just talking! It's a two-way street!"

Another paper lion, who folds at the first push-back. As suspected.

Hahahahahahaha! And invoking Musharraf, no less! What a joke you've become.

[ Parent ]
Ah but... (0.00 / 0)
Musharraf = banning. And you support banning therefore it's a fair comparison in that vein. Same with Bush - you chose to pick you audiences by elimination it seems via banning. Same as Bush.

Nope - the joke is on you via your own words. You are the one who brought up banning. I just responded by saying what banning really represented. Did I mention before how spineless banning was? Well it is.

Now put it to rest and go save the world. Except of course those who do not agree with you or have a different opinion. ;)

[ Parent ]
Duh. (0.00 / 0)
I support banning? How? Because I watched you get banned?

I'm just laughing in your face that you got banned. I didn't do it. I support you being exposed as stupid. I suppose that makes me Hitler.

[ Parent ]
I Have Never Been Banned (0.00 / 0)
from anything. Your delusional thinking extends from recently initially ignoring 1/2 of what Bush did in regards to the veto, to still obsessing about the pocket veto that doesn't apply, to now thinking posters like me are someone else.

Seems like you suffer from an extreme case of paranoia. Everyone is out to get you and the boogie man is around every corner.

The only thing I can say that you and Hitler have in common, since YOU brought it up, is that you like he suffer from delusion and paranoia.

Now go away and go back to Dkos. My God man you are supposed to be a Front Pager and you are carrying on like a Mad Man. You should be embarrassed by going to another blog and acting like a fool accusing someone of being your personal demon. You have enough demons running around in your head without inventing more.

You should take a break from blogging. Dealing with such negativity and cynicism everyday has obviously overtaken any sense of stability you previously had - - assuming you previously were stable.

[ Parent ]
P.S. (0.00 / 0)
Hi talex. Get banned some more, why don't you?

[ Parent ]
That's Correct (0.00 / 0)
Section 7 - Clause 2:

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law.

So according to the above quote all that has to be done is the veto of the bill by Bush (and he is in fact vetoing it) has to be entered into the House's journal. It doesn't say whether they have to be in session or not - although that may be addressed elsewhere but probably not as I don't 'think' there are any time limits as to when congress has to reconsider the bill.

In either case as I explained in my post above the two and ONLY options Bush has have both been exercised, and IMO it was done this way to cover his ass so there would be no litigation which is what he clearly explained.

Listening to the News Hour just now Bush's objection seems to be with a portion of the bill that allows Iraqi Sunni's to sue the Iraqi government in US courts and collect from the Iraqi government. It was also reported that he will work with congress to eliminate that portion so the rest of the bill can get signed.

The above is not to defend Bush but in this case KagroX completely misreported what happened here and in addition didn't even take the time to analyze what was really happening and why as many here including myself have.

It is much to-do about nothing.

[ Parent ]
Yeah (0.00 / 0)
See below, but it appears you're right- he's basically just vetoing it every way possible to make sure it sticks.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
Opps (0.00 / 0)
Sorry I responded to a post of yours upthread before I saw this post of yours so my response to you was not necessary.

But in any case I think we are all on the same page of this issue now.

[ Parent ]
KagroX Scewed Up Again (0.00 / 0)
And Lucas brings up a very valid point. I was thinking the same thing but went to research exactly how a President can veto a bill and what exactly a pocket veto is and came back to see Lucas' excellent comment and totally agree with him.

Another thing Kagro screwed up on is this comment of his:

Bush apparently doesn't dare sign an affirmative veto.

The President doesn't have to sign a veto! Kagro is wrong there.

The only other question I have about this maneuvering by Bush is this: How many days does Congress have to override a veto? Because they are technically in session but no one is there to actually vote does that fact have something to do with how Bush is going about his trickery? I'm sure we will hear more about this in the next day or so from the Democrats.

Another avenue congress has is to change a few unimportant words in the bill and send it to him again. As long as there are 2/3 in each Chamber to override him then his pocket veto means nothing. I don't know what the actual vote was on this bill but if it included more money for the troops my guess is that it was a pretty strong vote in passing.

[ Parent ]
He sends an affirmative veto message. (0.00 / 0)
In his other vetoes, he's sent a signed communication styled "A Message to the House of Representatives," which contained his objections and an affirmative declaration of veto.

This time, he sent a "Memorandum of Disapproval," with no affirmative declaration of veto. The only affirmative declaration in it was that it was a pocket veto.

[ Parent ]
You Are Parsing Words (0.00 / 0)
From your own post:

In addition to withholding my signature and thereby invoking my constitutional power to "pocket veto" bills during an adjournment of the Congress, 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.

So he did state his objections in a proper manner. The name of the 'Message' or the 'Memorandum' in this case make no difference at all. The Memorandum  was sent to the originating chamber for entry in their journal as the statue states must be done. The statue makes no mention of what the title of the document has to be.

Quit squirming. You missed half of what he did which makes you entire argument null and void.

[ Parent ]
I'm not squirming. (0.00 / 0)
That's just what you call posing a question of constitutional law, I guess.

The textual requirements for a veto are purely physical. But I believe what Bush has done raises a new question, that being whether there are other inherent requirements.

A returned bill with a written statement that the color of the paper is objectionable but that the law is otherwise fantastic and meets with his approval meets the textual requirements of a veto.

So is it one?

[ Parent ]
Just Do It, Nancy (4.00 / 1)
The impeachment option was "off the table"... it's time to put impeachment back on the table. Go ahead Nancy. We won't blame you for flip-flopping. Heck, a flip-flop would be a brilliant tactical move right about now.

No need for any grandstanding, ringing denunciations, or melodrama. Just enforce the laws on which our nation is founded. Just carry out the basic minimal responsibilities that you are entrusted with as congress members. Please.

Your impression that Nancy Pelosi runs the House is erroneous. (4.00 / 1)
Rahm Emanuel runs the House of Representatives.  And he's a neocon.  And HE'S taken impeachment off the table.  So thus it is.

Nancy Pelosi ain't in charge of shit.

For some reason, it seems that Obama has some pathological and deep-seated psychological need for Republicans to like him.  Seriously.  It's weird.

[ Parent ]
Bush is playing "Calvinball" (4.00 / 1)
Bush has been playing Calvinball for seven years. Congress is no Hobbes. Congress is only Calvin's father. It has never gotten it, and it won't get it next year either.

Nancy Pelosi (0.00 / 0)
First woman Speaker of the House.

Possibly, the last Speaker of the House as well.

This move by Bush will make the Congress extinct, if his word is law on whether they are in session or not. Poor Article One, I hardly knew ye.....

Thanks, Chris (4.00 / 1)
for finally coming around to the realization that, in theory at least (political realities in this most suckiest of congresses aside), impeaching this rank turdpile is long since past due. Making it actually happen is a whole other matter, but on its merits, both constitutional and practical, no reasonable person could possibly argue that it's not massively warranted.

I have to wonder, though, do the legislative affairs people in the White House understand how a pocket veto works, or are they simply testing congress's pushback? Considering that SCOTUS declined to hear a case last month in which Dems challenged a bill that was signed by Bush into "law" in '06 despite its having different senate and house versions (which makes it unconstitutional), this might not have been as stupid a move on his part as it might seem.

Bit by bit, act by act, word by word, they've been pushing the constitutional Overton Window further and further towards the point of no return. I don't think that we're there yet, but we're a lot closer than we were just over 7 years ago. Another enabling event or two, and it might well be all over. And actions such as this are, I suspect, intended to make that possible. These people want to literally destroy the constitution, one speech, policy and action at a time.

Which is why impeachment takes care of SO many worries and goes a long way towards putting us on the path back towards constitutionalism and democracy. If only it could happen.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


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