Obama “Not Signing” HR 3808
This just out from the White House’s Dan Pfeiffer:
Today, the White House announced that President Obama will not sign H.R. 3808, the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010, and will return the bill to the House of Representatives. The Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010 was designed to remove impediments to interstate commerce. While we share this goal, we believe it is necessary to have further deliberations about the intended and unintended impact of this bill on consumer protections, including those for mortgages, before this bill can be finalized.
Notarizations are important for a large range of documents, including financial documents. As the President has made clear, consumer financial protections are incredibly important, and he has made this one of his top priorities, including signing into law the strongest consumer protections in history in the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. That is why we need to think through the intended and unintended consequences of this bill on consumer protections, especially in light of the recent developments with mortgage processors.
The authors of this bill no doubt had the best intentions in mind when trying to remove impediments to interstate commerce. We will work with them and other leaders in Congress to explore the best ways to achieve this goal going forward.
There’s been a pang of concern over the language of “will not sign” over “will veto” in the statement. The President cannot “pocket-veto,” in other words veto something by not signing it, when Congress is in session. Though you think they’re not, they are in fact having pro forma sessions, because of the silly deal in the Senate to block recess appointments between now and the election. Some have feared this amounts to a pocket signing of the bill.
But there’s other language in this statement that’s important. Pfeiffer says that the White House will “not sign” and “return the bill to the House of Representatives.” That’s crucial. Legislative procedure expert David Waldman sees this as a “belt and suspenders veto,” similar to what Obama did last December:
The only other aspect of the President’s actions that merit additional examination is the fact that the veto itself was a belt-and-suspenders measure, in that he backed up a pocket veto by issuing a regular veto as well, just to be sure the job was done.
The enactment of H.R. 3326 (Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010, Public Law 111-118), which was signed into law on December 19, 2009, has rendered the enactment of H.J.Res. 64 (Continuing Appropriations, FY 2010) unnecessary. Accordingly, I am withholding my approval from the bill. (The Pocket Veto Case, 279 U.S. 655 (1929)).
To leave no doubt that the bill is being vetoed as unnecessary legislation, in addition to withholding my signature, I am also returning H.J.Res. 64 to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, along with this Memorandum of Disapproval.
Ah, the poor pocket veto. I guess nobody believes in you anymore. Perhaps another casualty of George W. Bush’s total disregard for pretty much anything and everything regarding Article I powers.
We’ll have to wait and see the official Memorandum of Disapproval, but it looks from the language that Dan Pfeiffer used in his statement that the same will apply in this case. In addition, I’m pleased by the attention being paid in the statement to the potential effect on mortgages and foreclosure issues.
I think we can say with 99% accuracy that HR 3808 will not become law.
UPDATE: Patrick Leahy, who rocketed this bill through the Senate after getting encouragement from “constituents” to sign it, approves of the veto:
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, moved the legislation through the Senate without debate on Sept. 27.
“Senator Leahy understands the President’s decision not to sign the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act, and he supports that decision,” said a Leahy spokeswoman in a statement. “When Congress passed the legislation, no concerns or objections had been expressed. Now that concerns have been raised, Congress should reexamine whether this bill might have an unintended impact on foreclosures in the future. We certainly do not believe that is what Representative Aderholt and the other cosponsors of the legislation intended.”
Robert Aderholt (R-AL) was the chief sponsor in the House.
UPDATE II: John Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee responds, notes that there hasn’t been a hearing on this bill in four years.
I support the President’s decision not to sign the “Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2009.” Although I believe the bill was originally well intentioned, I now believe this issue requires more careful review and discussion before the law is changed. There is substantial concern that this legislation may exacerbate the problems we are seeing with improprieties in the foreclosure documents being processed by mortgage lenders. We have not held a hearing on this matter since 2006 and I think it is worth our time to take another look at this issue before we consider legislation to ensure it does not harm consumers. At a time when three of the nation’s largest mortgage companies – Ally Financial, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America – have suspended legal proceedings in 23 states due to document flaws, we need to be very careful not to pass legislation that could allow increased deficiencies.
Just want to say that the President did the right thing here. There were too many unanswered questions with the bill.