President Mori signs Public Law 17-34 with "line item veto": Congress overrides
Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): February 24, 2012 - On November 18, 2011, the second day of the Second Special Session of the 17th FSM Congress, Congressional Bill No. 17-71 was introduced, proposing an appropriation of $2,100,000 from the General Fund of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) for fiscal year ending September 30, 2012 to fund public projects and social programs at all the four States, "and for other purposes". However, Congress prioritized to work on other measures and address issues relating to newly received Compact Grant Awards at the time and entertained the possibility of granting supplemental funds for requested amendments to Public Law 17-19, delaying conclusive action on the "public project bill" until the subsequent session.
Further action on the bill proceeded on January 19 during the Second Regular Session when it was withdrawn from the Committee on Ways and Means, went through first reading on the same day and passed second reading on January 30 as Congressional Act No. 17-33. The Congressional Act was received at the President's Office on January 30 and thereafter transmitted to pertinent departments and office, such as the Department of Justice, Department of Finance and Administration and the Office of Statistics, Budget, Overseas Development Assistance and Compact Management (SBOC) for necessary review.
According to law, after receiving an Act, the President has ten days to approve or disapprove before the Act becomes a law by itself in the event that the President does not render a decision within the 10-day period.
Hence, after obtaining recommendations from the reviewing departments and office, President Manny Mori "grudgingly" signed the Congressional Act on February 9, designating it Public Law No. 17-34, along with the item veto of 19 line items that were deemed "vague, duplicitous and unnecessary". The line item veto would decrease the appropriation by $303,000.
In his February 9 transmittal letter to Congress, President Mori explained the reservation he had with the Act given existing mathematical discrepancies, the absence of a strong link with the Strategic Development Plan (SDP) for the nation, the exclusion of input from the intended allottees of certain projects through public hearing or consultations, and the weakness of some projects or activities, such as travel and leadership exposure, in contributing to the "welfare of the constituents".
"Appropriations for public projects such as this raise false hope on our people, and it builds public appetite to demand for more projects that are lacking in substance. Clearly, there are no set rules, procedures, guidelines or policies to implement these projects", the President pointed out.
President Mori also expressed that he does not oppose public project in general. He therefore said, "In fact, I commend the States of Yap and Kosrae for funding meaningful projects".
After Public Law 17-34 was received at Congress on February 9, along with the explanation for the disapproval of the nineteen items, Congress finalized action on the appropriation by rectifying numerical discrepancies and repassing the bill in its entirety on February 11, the day the session adjourned sine die, a few hours before many Members returned to their respective States. By "repassing" the partly disapproved Act, Congress reinstated the vetoed items and kept the funding level for the proposed social programs and economic projects at $2,100,000.
The President has designated the overridden public law as Public Law No. 17-36 as of February 20.The initially vetoed public law can be viewed electronically on the FSM Congress website, www.fsmcongress.fm.
Congressional Act No. 17-34
Congress also passed Congressional Act No. 17-34 on January 30, amending Public Law No. 11-27 to change the use of certain funds that were appropriated for public projects in the State of Pohnpei back in fiscal year 2000.
The Act was received at the President's Office on January 31 and vetoed in its entirety on February 10 based on the unavailability of funding to accommodate the proposed changes.
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