Thursday, October 7, 2010

Legal Commentary: A Story I Missed At The Time

Obama vetoed a housing bill that could have made the foreclosure process faster; in the atmosphere of who knows how many bad foreclosures, this was probably a good thing.

I was looking up Obama's first veto, however, and I got this story:

For those unaware the president had even vetoed a bill emanating from the Democratic Congress, don’t worry. The measure was a stop-gap spending measure for the Pentagon that became unnecessary when the president instead signed the annual Pentagon money bill in time. He then vetoed the five-day, interim bill as unneeded legislation.

Even though the entire issue was moot, his action prompted the House to go through the veto override process because Congress and the executive branch are locked in a long-running Constitutional feud over a president’s ability to issue a “pocket veto” by failing to sign legislation but not sending it back to Congress.

The central legal question is over whether the pocket veto is legitimate when Congress is in recess or between sessions of an ongoing Congress. [...]

Representative David R. Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said the veto vote was required to make the point that Congress did not consider the pocket veto legitimate.

Okay, moot bill gets vetoed, required symbolic vote. Fine. Here's what buggered me:
The effort to overturn the veto failed, but 140 Republicans and three Democrats still took the opportunity to try to override Mr. Obama, even though the underlying legislation was of no consequence whatsoever. The final vote was 245-143 against overriding the president.
Really? I understand holding the vote to send a message that holding the vote is Constitutionally required; can anyone figure out why to vote for a moot bill?


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