Why Is Congress Even Bothering To Pass Laws?

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George W. Bush has already made it clear that he may ignore parts of the 2007 Defense Authorization Act. To be exact, he has listed two dozens provisions in the act which he may trash, including the budget requirements for the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bush made his stand Tuesday in one of his now-famous “signing statements,” which the White House maintains are not unlike other presidential signing statements, but which are, in fact, completely different. Instead of making notes about his personal interpretations of some laws, Bush has used the signing statement to eliminate parts of laws, or the spirit of entire laws, that he does not like.

Some Constitutional scholars say that it is within Bush’s legal rights to reject the war budget because, they say, the Constitution does not give Congress the authority to tell the president (or, in this case, Bush) what to request or how to request it.

Bush’s other objections include:

• A requirement that he name a “coordinator of policy on North Korea” within 60 days, and submit within 90 days an updated intelligence assessment on Iran.

• A call for reports on subjects ranging from an early education program for military children to a study on assessing the safety of the nuclear stockpile.

• A response plan for remediation of unexploded ordnance, discarded military munitions, and munitions constituents.

• A report on a program for replacement of nuclear warheads on certain Trident sea-launched ballistic missiles with conventional warheads.

• Energy efficiency in weapons platforms.

• A report on participation of multinational partners in the United Nations Command in the Republic of Korea.

• A report on the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement.

• Quarterly reports on Department of Defense response to threat posed by improvised explosive devices.

• A National Academy of Sciences study of quantification of margins and uncertainty methodology for assessing and certifying the safety and reliability of the nuclear stockpile.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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