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Jimmy Carter and the Legislative Veto: Fighting Federal Comity Encroachment
Unformatted Document Text:  vetoes. In June of that year Carter sent a formal message to Congress presenting his case against the contested device. Message to Congress: Amidst the continued debate over the legislative veto and especially due to Levitas’ universal legislative veto bill (HR 11112), by April 1978 Carter and his White House staff realized a clear yet firm stance needed to be transmitted to Congress outlining his views and his administrations’ formal position on legislative vetoes. As Domestic Policy Staff General Counsel Richard Neustadt and other White House staffers met to begin to work out the details, they realized that the gesture could only succeed if they proceeded with caution and invited frequent consultation from Congress. This mindset tied directly to the larger attitude of the White House. Even when taking a harsh and divisive stance, respect for the legislative body of government and its members remained crucial. Though this logic may sound ubiquitous to politics, the imperial presidencies of years past defied this rule and spurned cooperation. Though there are examples of meetings arranged with supportive members of the community and of Congress, most poignant to this discussion was the meeting arranged with Mr. Legislative Veto – Elliot Levitas – the Congressman most likely to oppose what Carter would say. Of course, consultation does not guarantee support. On June 20, 1978, after meeting with Levitas, Chief Domestic Policy Staff Advisor Stu Eizenstat reported what was to be expected; that Levitas “does not agree with the thrust of the message”. Levitas asked to meet or speak with Carter personally but the president declined. While Carter meant no disrespect to the member of Congress, he knew what 5

Authors: Friedman, Jason.
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vetoes. In June of that year Carter sent a formal message to Congress presenting his case
against the contested device.
Message to Congress:
Amidst the continued debate over the legislative veto and especially due to
Levitas’ universal legislative veto bill (HR 11112), by April 1978 Carter and his White
House staff realized a clear yet firm stance needed to be transmitted to Congress outlining
his views and his administrations’ formal position on legislative vetoes. As Domestic
Policy Staff General Counsel Richard Neustadt and other White House staffers met to
begin to work out the details, they realized that the gesture could only succeed if they
proceeded with caution and invited frequent consultation from Congress. This mindset
tied directly to the larger attitude of the White House. Even when taking a harsh and
divisive stance, respect for the legislative body of government and its members remained
crucial. Though this logic may sound ubiquitous to politics, the imperial presidencies of
years past defied this rule and spurned cooperation.
Though there are examples of meetings arranged with supportive members of the
community and of Congress, most poignant to this discussion was the meeting arranged
with Mr. Legislative Veto – Elliot Levitas – the Congressman most likely to oppose what
Carter would say. Of course, consultation does not guarantee support. On June 20,
1978, after meeting with Levitas, Chief Domestic Policy Staff Advisor Stu Eizenstat
reported what was to be expected; that Levitas “does not agree with the thrust of the
message”. Levitas asked to meet or speak with Carter personally but the president
declined. While Carter meant no disrespect to the member of Congress, he knew what
5


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