President Obama signed a defense bill into law this week, but not without a few objections.
Dating back to Andrew Jackson, and used more frequently since President Reagan held office, the presidential signing statement has been an effective tool for the chief executive to explain his interpretation of the law he's signing. While sometimes used to explain how the president would enforce a law, a president can attach a statement explaining an objection to some of the items within the legislation. Such a statement is what Obama attached to one of the bills he signed this week, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013.
Although Obama during his 2008 campaign criticized President George W. Bush's use of this tool, he has used signing statements himself more than 20 times since taking office, mostly for constitutional objections. By contrast, Reagan issued 250 signing statements in his tenure, President Clinton signed 381, and George W. Bush had 161, according to the Congressional Research Service. Here are five occasions where Obama used this tool.
Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009
March 11, 2009
In his first signing statement, Obama took issue with several sections of that year's $410 billion spending bill, including a section that restricted the use of funding for United Nations missions under foreign commanders. It could hinder his own military authority, Obama argued. He also objected to limitations for the executive branch to reallocate money without congressional permission. Around the time of this statement, Obama set an administration precedent that he would only issue signing statements after consulting the attorney general.