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March 9, 1998

S. 1668 - Disclosure to Congress Act of 1998
(Senator Shelby (R) AL)

The Administration, after consultation with the Department of Justice, has determined that S. 1668 is unconstitutional. If the bill is presented to the President in its present form, the President's senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

S. 1668 would require the President to inform certain Federal employees and contractors that disclosure to Congress of specified categories of information, including classified information, "is not prohibited by law, executive order, or regulation or otherwise contrary to public policy." This provision is clearly contrary to the Supreme Court's explicit recognition of the President's constitutional authority to protect national security and other privileged information. Congress may not vest lower-ranking personnel in the Executive branch with a "right" to furnish national security or other privileged information to a member of Congress without receiving official authorization to do so. By seeking to divest the President of his authority over the disclosure of such information, S. 1668 would unconstitutionally infringe upon the President's constitutional authority. We believe that existing congressional oversight mechanisms, as well as inspector general statutes, have proven effective in bringing instances of illegality, fraud, waste, and abuse to the attention of Executive branch managers and congressional committees.