Tester tackles Presidential signing statements

Senator cosponsors bill to make statements toothless

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Fed up with President Bush's unprecedented use of presidential signing statements, Senator Jon Tester used his own signature in an effort to do away with the controversial practice.

Tester has put his name on bipartisan legislation that would essentially make the President's signing statements toothless.

President Bush has issued hundreds of signing statements—far more than any other president in U.S. History—before signing legislation into law.  The signing statements note portions of laws that President Bush disagrees with and may ignore, essentially allowing the President to reinterpret laws passed by Congress.

Before signing the Defense Authorization Act earlier this week, President Bush issued a signing statement threatening to ignore a provision that establishes a Commission on Wartime Contracting.  Tester cosponsored that provision, which had unanimous support of the Senate, in order to bring accountability to contractors like Blackwater USA and Halliburton, and to potentially save taxpayers billions of wasted dollars.

That move by President Bush prompted Tester to cosponsor the Presidential Signing Statements Act of 2007.  Tester also received dozens of letters from Montanans angry about the President's use of signing statements.

If passed, the Presidential Signing Statements Act of 2007 would prohibit state and federal courts from using a presidential signing statement as a source of authority when determining the meaning of any act of Congress.

"Enough is enough.  The President's job is to sign or veto legislation passed by Congress," Tester said.  "He doesn't get to add small print allowing him to pick and choose what he wants."

The Presidential Signing Statements Act of 2007 (S. 1747) was introduced by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.  Other cosponsors of the bill are Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Ia., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and John Kerry, D-Mass.