Seriously, when will someone get enough of a backbone to challenge the idiotic continued usage of signing statements by our President? Yesterday, we had the top of the Executive Branch food chain explicitly state that he feels he has additional power to change Homeland Security’s privacy rule audits, and also that he can defy the rules Congress spelled out about the qualifications of any potential FEMA director. The arrogance is astounding — each statement says, “I know what the words of the law state, but even though I’ll sign my name to the law, I won’t abide by those words.”

The FEMA bit is plainly insane, because the text of the bill stated that any potential director of the agency had to have at least five years experience and a “demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management and homeland security,” and Bush’s signing statement explicitly declares that he doesn’t intend to abide by those requirements. This is immensely galling, given FEMA’s performance during Katrina under Michael Brown, someone who clearly wasn’t qualified to have the job or manage an emergency. The text of the statement (emphasis mine):

Section 503(c) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, as amended by section 611 of the Act, provides for the appointment and certain duties of the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Section 503(c)(2) vests in the President authority to appoint the Administrator, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, but purports to limit the qualifications of the pool of persons from whom the President may select the appointee in a manner that rules out a large portion of those persons best qualified by experience and knowledge to fill the office. The executive branch shall construe section 503(c)(2) in a manner consistent with the Appointments Clause of the Constitution.

Here’s my big question: what’s the actual difference between these signing statements and line-item vetoes? And if there isn’t any, didn’t our Supreme Court rule that the Constitution doesn’t allow for line-item vetoes? Will it take Congress changing party hands in order to get the body to stand up for its Constitutionally-vested power to define the laws that go before our President for signature?