Biden Signs Bill Renaming USDOT Headquarters

President Biden today signed the bill S. 400 into law, naming the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters building the “William T. Coleman, Jr. and Norman  Y. Mineta Federal Building.”

In a statement, Biden called Mineta “an American hero” and “a dear friend.”

S. 400 started off in the Senate in March 2021 and would have renamed the building just for former Secretary Coleman, who died in 2017. (A similar bill had passed the Senate in the prior Congress.) The House then passed its own bill naming the building after former Secretary Mineta. In March of this year, the Solomonic solution was reached, and the House passed S. 400 on March 31 with an amendment naming the building after both men.

The Senate then agreed to the House changes by unanimous consent on April 6, clearing the measure for President Biden’s signature.

But wait, you say…doesn’t the Constitution set a 10-day clock, excluding Sundays, on how long the President has to sign or veto a bill? Today is May 6 and it has been more than 10 days.

Yes, that is true, but one of the little secrets of Congress is that the 10-day clock starts when the an employee of the Clerk of the House or the Secretary of the Senate actually walks down Pennsylvania Avenue and formally presents the enrolled bill, signed by the Speaker and the President pro Tempore, to the White House Executive Clerk. The Constitution does not set a deadline on how long it takes to officially present a bill that has cleared both chambers, so they really have until the Congress ends, which will be noon on January 3, 2023. Delays of many months are rare but have happened.

It seems likely that the delay in presenting this bill was an attempt to plan a signing ceremony at which Mineta could appear. But his health evidently precluded this, and once Secretary Mineta passed on the morning of May 3, S. 400 was presented to the President that afternoon.

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