Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Of signing statements and whistleblowers

President Obama signed the stimulus bill in February 2009.
President Obama signed the stimulus bill in February 2009.

A sharp-eyed reader e-mailed us and asked us to consider adding a promise about signing statements to our Obameter database.

Signing statements are memoranda presidents issue when signing legislation. President George W. Bush used them to indicate when he disagreed with aspects of a new law and how he would carry out the law. Bush used signing statements on topics from torture to the the qualifications that the nation's top disaster official should have.

Obama said he would use signing statements on a limited basis, but we found aspects of his first signing statement inconsistent with that pledge, particularly as it relates to Congress and whistleblowers. We added a new promise: No. 516, No signing statements to nullify instructions from Congress . Read the full item for a complete explanation of our reasoning — we rated it Stalled.

That led us to take a look at another Obama promise, No. 426, Increase protections for whistleblowers . Congress is considering new legislation to protect whistleblowers, federal workers who expose misconduct or other governmental shenanigans. The Obama administration has expressed support for the legislation, with a few caveats. We rated the promise In the Works .