About Presidential Signing Statements and Veto Messages
Bills passed by Congress are presented to the President for either their signature or their veto. Regardless of which option the President chooses, he/she is entitled to make a “statement” regarding the proposed legislation.
These Signing Statements can include directives to the Executive branch on how to implement (or not implement) the newly signed law, congratulatory remarks to Congress, explanations of importance of the act, etc., and have become more and more popular in the last 15 to 20 years. For example, President Barack Obama’s Remarks on Signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010 are actually four pages long!
Alternatively, Veto Messages may include reasons for the veto or calls to action for amendments to the bill which would naturally be supported by the president’s signature. In this example, President Obama included a one-paragraph Memorandum of Dissapproval in his Veto Message on H. J. Res. 64.
There has been much constitutional debate about the weight of authority to give Signing Statements given their increased popularity over the past 15-20 years. Questions remain about looking to Signing Statements for statutory interpretation, in the place of a veto, or in contradiction of the act as written.
Signing Statements and Veto Messages are occassionally published in the Congressional Record, the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, and/or the U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News (USCCAN).
Signing Statements and Veto Messages in Print (1st Floor):
- Congressional Record (see Floor Proceedings tab for location and available dates)
- U.S Congressional Serial Set, selected volumes (#1502 – #15375), 1871 – 2010
- U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News (USCCAN), 1941 – 2009 (3rd Floor)
Freely Available Government Sources:
- Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1993 – present
- Public Papers of the Presidents, 1988 – present
- White house.gov:
- Library of Congress (loc.gov):
- USCCAN Presidential Messages and Signing Statements, 1986 - present
- ProQuest Congressional
- Executive Branch Documents, 1789 – 1932