Top Democrats warn Obama on IMF funding qualifier
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior Democrats warned President Barack Obama on Tuesday not to ignore restrictions they placed on U.S. funding for the International Monetary Fund in a war spending bill, a practice they consistently criticized former President George W. Bush for.
In a letter to Obama, four top Democrats who chair House of Representatives committees said further aid may not be available next time for the IMF and other international institutions if the White House ignored the conditions set in the law.
In a statement issued when the president signed the bill in June, Obama said the limitations would interfere with his constitutional authority to conduct foreign policy and negotiate with other governments.
"I will not treat these provisions as limiting my ability to engage in foreign diplomacy or negotiations," he wrote.
Bush resorted to such "signing statements" to give his administration a legal way to ignore certain provisions in bills he signed into law.
The Democrats' letter was signed by Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee; David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Sub-Committee on State, Foreign Operations, and Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Financial Services Sub-Committee on International Monetary Policy.
The bill includes restrictions on how the United States should vote and influences decisions in the World Bank and IMF on healthcare and education spending caps in poor countries, as well as support for countries that fund terrorism.
The Democrats expressed "surprise" at the president's signing statement, saying they had personally worked hard to get the funding for the IMF passed, despite resistance.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Obama understood the concerns of the group of Democrats and underscored the administration's efforts to make the IMF more effective.
"The president has also already made it clear that he will not ignore statutory obligations on the basis of policy disagreements and will reserve signing statements for legislation that raises clearly identified constitutional concerns," she added.
The Democrats reminded Obama of his own criticism against Bush for issuing signing statements.
"During the previous administration, all of us were critical of the president's assertion that he could pick and choose which aspects of congressional statutes he was required to enforce," the Democrats wrote. "We were therefore chagrined to see you appear to express a similar attitude."
The Democrats said the restrictions were critical and represented significant policy concerns, especially in institutions that were not always supportive of U.S. views.
"Along with your assurances that you will respect these conditions, we request that you no longer assert the right to ignore provisions that Congress adds through the normal legislative process for funding for the international financial institutions," the Democrats said.
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Anthony Boadle)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this