Presidential Signing Statements and the Durability of the Law

Ian Ostrander, Joel Sievert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


© 2014 American University, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. Prior literature suggests that presidents use signing statements to unilaterally move policy closer to their own ideal point after Congress has already voted on and passed a particular bill. Congress, however, retains the ability to revisit and amend the law by passing another bill. A presidential signing statement may thus make a law less durable and more likely to be amended in the future. To investigate this relationship, we examine all laws passed from the 95th through the 108th Congresses in order to demonstrate the specific influence of presidential signing statements on future congressional amendment activity. The results of our analysis lend support to the theory that laws receiving presidential signing statements are in fact more likely to be revisited and revised by Congress. These findings add to the literature both on presidential signing statements as well as the evolution of laws.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-383
JournalCongress and the Presidency
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


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