Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 14th Jan 2012 20:57 UTC
Internet & Networking The Obama administration has responded to two petitions regarding SOPA, but in true political fashion, the response is 838 words of absolutely nothing at all. Here's a link, but don't complain to me about losing 10 minutes of your life reading this empty drivel. How about taking a stand for once, eh?
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RE[2]: Excuse me, but...
by AdamW on Thu 19th Jan 2012 01:07 UTC in reply to "RE: Excuse me, but..."
AdamW
Member since:
2005-07-06

Well, no, not really.

As I commented last time this came up: you have to understand the U.S. legislative process. The executive branch - the White House - has no ability directly to control or even really to influence the content of the legislation at this point in the process. It can't even _stop_ the legislation at this point in the process.

The President gets his chance once a bill has been passed by both legislative houses; he can choose to veto it. (In some cases he has a line-item veto power, which means he can authorize most of the bill but veto specific parts, but I'm not entirely clear on the circumstances which apply surrounding that, so skip it). But he can't veto a bill _until_ it's approved by both houses and sent to his office.

At this point in the process, what the President can do in public is effectively to set out his terms for vetoing or not vetoing a bill, which is what this statement does: it's clearly written to suggest, for e.g., that Obama would veto a bill containing the most controversial bit of SOPA/PIPA, the DNS-blocking provisions.

To be clear - right now, Obama has very little power over the SOPA/PIPA legislation. He could not actually choose, for instance, to kill it tomorrow. That just isn't how U.S. politics works. He could announce a definite intention to veto it, but that's about as far as he could go, and it would be a relatively radical stance: the presidential veto power is a somewhat sensitive subject in the U.S., and presidents don't like to look as if they're waving it around with the safety catch off, so to speak.

Of course, when the party of which the President is a member is in control of one or other house, the President may have substantial *informal* influence over legislation at the draft, review and voting stages, though he still has no formal, legislated influence. When the other party controls the house, he really can't do a whole lot besides threaten the veto the bill and ask for concessions to be made in exchange for *not* vetoing it, which is precisely what he's doing now.

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