Obama signing statement shows he will not enforce anti-BDS provisions in Israel trade bill

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a rare moment of bipartisan cooperation in Congress which dealt with the new US – Israeli trade bill making its way through both chambers. The one subject which the two parties seemed to finally agree on was that America needed to strengthen its support of Israel and fight back against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement which has most recently sought to prevent Israeli exports from certain territories being labeled as “Products of Israel.” In response, the legislation would make it easier for the United States government to itself steer clear of groups engaging in such tactics.

Well, the bill made it to the President’s desk and he signed it, but not without adding his own poison pill in a signing statement saying that he opposed those Anti-BDS provisions and would not enforce them. This has leaders in both parties fighting mad and teaming up for a change. (Washington Free Beacon)

Leading Democrats are taking aim at the Obama administration for its opposition to newly passed legislation that aims to bolster the U.S.-Israel economic relationship and combat boycotts of Israel, according to a statement issued this week.

The Obama administration announced that it opposes portions of a bipartisan trade bill that would strengthen economic ties between the U.S. and Israel and force trade partners to sever ties with backers of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, an anti-Israel movement that seeks to economically isolate the Jewish state.

President Barack Obama issued a rare statement opposing the bill’s pro-Israel language this week, claiming that it sought to legitimize Israeli settlements. Obama stated that he would not enforce the pro-Israel provisions as a result of his personal disagreement with the policies.

My, how the worm has turned. There was a time when it seemed like everyone opposed presidential signing statements to one degree or another, and that included Barack Obama. Here’s a little blast from the past taken from almost exactly eight years ago. John McCain was all on fire about George W. Bush’s use of this tool. Then-Senator Obama was already seeing some of the temptation such power offers, but insisted he wouldn’t use it to undermine the law. (New York Times, some emphasis added)

Mr. McCain has put some distance between himself and Mr. Bush by vowing to end the current administration’s use of “signing statements” to accompany bills that become law. Mr. Bush has used those statements to reserve the right not to enforce laws he thinks violate the Constitution or national security, or that impair foreign relations. The Bush administration’s frequent use of those statements has been one front in the battle between the White House and Congress over the power of the executive branch.

Mr. Obama, by contrast, has said that it is legitimate for a president to use a signing statement to clarify his understanding of an ambiguous law and to explain how he will enforce it. But he has pledged not to use signing statements to undermine legislation passed by Congress and has called Mr. Bush’s frequent use of such statements an abuse of his power.

In case those quotes are a bit too vague to drive the point home, here’s Obama on the stump during that campaign taking a specific question on the use of presidential signing statements. I think you’ll agree that it’s fairly unambiguous.

What George Bush has been trying to do as part of his effort to accumulate more power in the presidency is, he’s been saying, well I can basically change what Congress passed by attaching a letter saying I don’t agree with this part or I don’t agree with that part. I’m going to choose to interpret it this way or that way. That’s not part of his power.

That’s not part of his power, Mr. President, but it clearly seems to be part of yours. Funny how that whole power thing works, isn’t it? Once you get it in your hands there’s just no telling where it will lead.

Obama signing laws

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022