Biden signs defense authorization bill into law despite ‘unconstitional’ concerns

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President Joe Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023 into law Friday morning despite maintaining concerns about several provisions included in the bill. Patrick Semansky/AP

Biden signs defense authorization bill into law despite ‘unconstitional’ concerns

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President Joe Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2023 into law on Friday morning despite maintaining concerns about several provisions included in the bill.

Biden specifically said that one provision is “unconstitutional” and stated his intention to comply with others in a limited capacity.

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The White House had previously refused to say whether or not Biden would veto the bill after Republicans included a clause that rolled back the Pentagon’s coronavirus vaccine mandate and reinstated unvaccinated service members, though Biden did not specifically note that provision among his listed objections Friday morning.

“The Act provides vital benefits and enhances access to justice for military personnel and their families, and includes critical authorities to support our country’s national defense, foreign affairs, and homeland security,” Biden wrote. “While I am pleased to support these critical objectives, I note that certain provisions of the Act raise concerns.”

The president criticized Congress for including two sections that continue “to bar the use of funds appropriated to the Department of Defense to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to the custody or effective control of certain foreign countries” or within the United States.

“In some circumstances, these provisions could make it difficult to comply with the final judgment of a court that has directed the release of a detainee on writ of habeas corpus, including by constraining the flexibility of the executive branch with respect to its engagement in delicate negotiations with foreign countries over the potential transfer of detainees,” he said. “I urge the Congress to eliminate these restrictions as soon as possible.”

Biden also objected to 12 sections that require the executive branch to submit additional reports to Congress regarding “highly sensitive classified information.”

The president said that one such section, which requires the White House and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to supply related congressional committees with “all Presidential Executive Orders, memoranda, and policy directives that ‘contain a direction to, establish a requirement for, or include a restriction on any element of the intelligence community,” is unconstitutional “to the extent it imposes requirements for access to those communications beyond those already present under existing law.”

“I will commit to complying with its disclosure requirements only in such cases where a committee has a need for such Presidential communications that outweighs the potential harm to the confidentiality interests underlying the Presidential communications privilege,” the president said.

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Finally, Biden said that “a number of provisions of the Act may, in certain circumstances, interfere with the exercise of my constitutional authority to articulate the positions of the United States in international negotiations.”

“I support many of the objectives in these provisions,” he said. “Nevertheless, I will not treat them as limiting my constitutional discretion to articulate the views of the United States before international organizations and with foreign governments.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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