Will Bush veto the border fence bill?

A mostly political Weblog.
Oct. 11 2006 4:51 PM

Will Bush Veto the Fence Bill?

He hasn't signed it yet.

Monday, October 9, 2006 [ Banks closed.]

"We expect ... " I telephoned the White House press office to ask if the President was going to sign the Secure Fence Act. Here's the response I got back from White House spokesman David Almacy:

"We expect the President to sign the bill but the last information we had was that we have not received the bill from Congress." 

Does that sound definitive to you? I didn't think so. It doesn't to me either. "Expect" is a word that traditionally leaves a lot of wiggle room. Expectations change. ... Why can't they say: "The President will sign the Secure Fence Act"? There's a trick to talking to a paranoid they don't seem to have mastered! ... It's not as if Bush needs to build suspense for a cliffhanger signing ceremony. This isn't Sweeps Week. He needs to reassure the conservative pro-fence base. Which makes the White House failure to close the door on a veto all the more suspicious. ... P.S.: I'd say the weak response from the White House itself outweighs the earlier response from Patrick Ruffini of the RNC, which contains the magic sentence but appears to be relying on the ambiguous, weasely Bush CNN interview. But you make the call. ... P.P.S.: It seems clear, though, that the 10-day pocket veto clock hasn't started ticking yet. ... P.P.P.S.: See Captain Ed, who's convinced Bush is going to sign. ...    5:28 P.M. link

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Is Bush going to sign the 700-mile border fence bill (the Secure Fence Act), passed with great fanfare  by Congress a little over a week ago? According to an AP story from Friday:

President Bush has not yet signed the Secure Fence Act

That signing ceremony he held last Wednesday in Arizona, it turns out, was only for a Homeland Security appropriations bill that included "$1.2 billion for border fencing." It wasn't the Secure Fence Act.

We're approaching pocket veto territory here, aren't we? Under the Constitution Bush has 10 days to sign the bill into law--a deadline that would seem to be rapidly approaching.** ... [Thanks to reader M.M.]

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P.S.: If I were paranoid, I would notice that even though WaPo and other MSM outlets have reported that Bush "has indicated that he will sign" the bill, he hasn't really. His alleged promise to sign took place on CNN, and he obsessively restricted his answer to the appropriations bill (which he's signed) not the Secure Fence Act. Here's the full answer:

BLITZER: The House has passed legislation that would support building a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. Senator Frist told me yesterday that he's going to put that now before the Senate. Even though it's not part of what you want, comprehensive immigration reform.If the Senate passes what the House has passed, will you sign it into law?

BUSH: It's a part of strengthening the border. And we're in the process now of spending the money that they appropriated last session to modernize the border. And one reason -- the guy's question -- Ray's question was, "Why is it taking so long." It's a long border. It takes -- it takes a lot of manpower and new equipment to enforce that border. And Ray needs to know things are changing quite dramatically.

BLITZER: So, will you sign it into law?

BUSH: One thing that has changed is catch and release. Prior to the expenditure of the money that these guys -- the Senate and the House have appropriated, we would catch somebody trying to sneak in and just release them back into society. That's been ended.And so a lot of reform has taken place.You know, yes, I'll sign it into law. They're appropriating money -- I believe that's what you're talking about -- and it's part of the appropriations process, if I'm not mistaken.

BLITZER: Put another way, is it just a narrow focus on border security? Without the --without the guest worker program or the other issues, you'll just take that for now?

BUSH: Well I just -- that's what I did last time when I signed the appropriations process. [E.A.]

A pro-fence paranoid might also note that Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a major fence advocate, on his "victory tour", suggested that the appropriations bill--not the actual fence bill--was enough:

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican and primary author of the House's immigration-enforcement bill, said that by getting the president to sign a funding bill that included a down payment on the border fence and other enforcement measures, the House position on enforcement first has prevailed.

P.P.S.: Yes, I find it hard to believe that Bush would double-cross the pro-fence Republican base like that, a month before an election. I hope somebody sends me an e-mail soon to say I'm wrong. But you can't read the above passages without thinking the White House was at least trying to create the option of a pocket veto, hidden under the diversion of an appropriations-bill signing ...

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