Monday, July 09, 2007

But today I am still just a bill


This sounds about right:
Washington, DC – Senator John Kerry today announced that he will co-sponsor legislation aimed at preventing the President from writing so-called “signing statements” when he signs bills – a little known measure that allows the White House to effectively circumvent Congress. Under the bill, a president could not issue a signing statement if it substantially altered the original legislation. Kerry co-sponsored the legislation with Senator Arlen Specter (R-Penn) and the measure could be voted on as early as this month if it is added as an amendment to the defense spending bill.

“The Bush Administration’s abuse of signing statements is clearly unconstitutional and renders the Constitution’s system of checks and balances null and void,” Kerry said. “With these statements, the President has effectively subverted the law and the legislative process without actually ever using a veto. No administration should be allowed to cherry-pick legislation this way. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this legislation and I want to again thank the Boston Globe for shining a bright light on this abuse.”

Not sure if I trust Specter, but still, it's a step in the right direction.

One problem remains, however, as Kevin Drum points out:
FILIBUSTERS....I wonder how many Americans understand that you can't pass legislation in America with 50% of the votes in Congress? How many of them understand that, outside of budget resolutions, you need 60 votes in the Senate? That a filibuster isn't a matter of Jimmy Stewart talking himself ragged for hours on end, but of merely declaring an intention to filibuster? And that this is done for all but the most routine matters? With the result that the 60-vote minimum is no longer reserved for occasional high-profile issues, but has been institutionalized for virtually all legislation of any consequence?

I figure maybe 2%. What's your guess?

I'm not as cynical as Kevin, so I'll guess 5%.