Earlier this month, President Bush issued his first signing statement since his party lost control of Congress in the 2006 election, “reserving the right to bypass 11 provisions in a military appropriations bill under his executive powers.” Throughout his presidency, Bush has “quietly claimed the authority to disobey” hundreds of laws passed by Congress with signing statements, but with his party no longer controlling Congress, the president appears to have struck “a less aggressive tone” in an effort to avoid further controversy:
Analysts said the president’s less aggressive tone may be an effort to avoid reigniting a controversy that erupted last year after it came to light that Bush had used signing statements to challenge more laws than all previous presidents combined – including a torture ban. Congress held hearings about signing statements and the American Bar Association called for an end to them.
“They have clearly edited themselves,” said Christopher Kelley, a political science professor at Miami University of Ohio who first analyzed the new statement on his blog Thursday. “They’ve taken out all the rhetoric about executive power.”
White House spokesman Tony Fratto denied any “public relations” motivation behind the tone change, claiming that shorter signing statements are “just easier.”