On December 28, 2007, President Bush “pocket vetoed” the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1585), which passed both houses of Congress in mid-December. The Act would have provided 12 weeks of FMLA leave to immediate family members (spouse, child or parent) of any reservist or member of the National Guard who is called to active duty in the military. The Act also would have provided over six months of leave to employees to care for family members who are combat-injured armed service members.

Ironically, President Bush allowed the legislation to fail despite the fact that it was recommended by the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors. The Commission reported that about 21 percent of wounded service members had a family member or close friend relocate to help in their recoveries and that many of them gave up their jobs to find the time to do so.

The apparent reason for the pocket-veto had nothing to do with the leave provisions. In a Memorandum of Disapproval issued on December 28, 2007, the President stated that he vetoed the legislation because of a separate provision attached to the bill that, he claims, would “imperil billions of dollars of Iraqi assets at a crucial juncture” and would “undermine foreign policy and commercial interests in the United States.” That provision apparently authorized lawsuits against the Iraqi government for Saddam-era atrocities.

Congressional leaders are set to revise the bill for resubmission to the President when the 110th Congress reconvenes on January 15, 2008 .