Although Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin proclaimed he reached a “Deal!” with the leaders of both Houses of Congress – and he knew of the accountability provisions included in the deal – President Donald Trump ripped up a key part of that deal two hours after signing it into law.
The smooth-yet-gutless trick came in the form of a rare presidential “signing statement”. However, this statement was not released until the Congressional leaders and Cabinet members left the Oval Office signing ceremony. (No doubt, Democratic leaders are even more glad that they were not invited to stand behind him.)
The key provision that the signing statement demolished was that the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (the actual title) would report to Congress every three months. That report is to include “a detailed statement of all loans, loan guarantees, other transactions, obligations, expenditures, and revenues associated” with the monies spent abroad.
This was one of the provisions that Democrats held out for in the early part of the week. It is inconceivable that Mnuchin had not signed off on it before either the Senate or the House had voted. Not so fast, people who are concerned with this accountability. The Signing Statement says that the President can censor the report before it goes to Congress.
“I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required by the Take Care Clause, Article II, section 3.”
That is the Clause in the Constitution that says he shall “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” allows him to censor the Special IG’s reports. He is treating that very expansively, to say the least.
(The impacted accountability provisions are set forth on page 540 of the Bill.)
The Signing Statement unilaterally changes his deal in a couple of other ways, and those are set forth in the annotated copy of the Statement – you can read both pages and the notes at Arizona’s Politics.
Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego reacted today on Twitter, saying “He is not a king.”