On Thursday morning, Obama signed the much-maligned, bipartisan budget deal along with a defense bill and five other pieces of legislation while vacationing in Hawaii. But there’s a small detail in that sentence that’s interesting: unlike when he “signed” the fiscal cliff bill into law during last Christmas’s Hawaiian vacation, Obama actually put his signature to these bills in person.
Why is that significant? Because as CBS’s Mark Knoller points out, that means that bills had to be flown to Hawaii to be signed:
It’s unclear how much money such a trip cost — or if it was even done as a special flight (the bills could have come with someone on an already scheduled flight, for example). TheBlaze has reached out to the White House for an explanation.
Either way, last time the president took the opposite approach and faced criticism for it.
In order to sign the bill into law in the opening days of 2013 that delayed sequestration cuts but raised taxes on some, Obama read the bill and then ordered it to be signed via autopen back in Washington.*
“We received the bill late this afternoon, and it was immediately processed,” and administration official noted last Jan. 3. “A copy was delivered to the president for review. He then directed the bill be signed by autopen.”
The Washington Times cited Republican members of Congress and a Syracuse law professor who questioned the validity of any bill signed into law using the autopen, especially when Obama isn’t in the room.
“I’m very, very surprised that this is now the third time that President Obama has done this, especially given that it was the Bush OLC [Office of Legal Counsel] that produced the memo and Bush himself refused to take advantage of the autopen,” Prof. Terry Turnipseed told the Times back then. “Even Bush did not think that this was something that should have been utilized on a constitutional basis.”
Still, as the Times notes, the Justice Department under George W. Bush did deem such use constitutional.
All that hasn’t stopped a fresh set of criticism for Obama signing the laws in person this year. The website Weasel Zippers deemed the move an attempt to secure a “propaganda pic” that “milk[ed] the taxpayers.” The site was referring to the official photo released by the White House showing the president signing this year’s bills:
(H/T: Weasel Zippers)
*This story has been updated to note that the bill signed into law in January of 2013 actually delayed sequestration cuts. It also raised taxes on larger income earners.