WASHINGTON -- President Obama left town Friday for vacation not only pocketing a victory on the payroll tax, but leaving behind a message of defiance for Congress.
In signing the bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, the commander in chief also issued a "signing statement" in which he rejected several provisions of the bill, including attempts to take away his czars.
Buried deep in the $1 trillion measure are four provisions in section 627 that say the White House may not use any of the money to fund salaries or expenses for the head of Obama's health reform office, his energy and climate adviser, his car czar, or the head of his urban affairs office.
But Friday, Obama essentially said 'too bad' in issuing a dense, legalistic statement that explains what he won't accept in the bill.
"Several provisions in this bill, including section 627 of Division C and section 512 of Division D, could prevent me from fulfilling my constitutional responsibilities, by denying me the assistance of senior advisers and by obstructing my supervision of executive branch officials in the execution of their statutory responsibilities," Obama wrote. "I have informed the Congress that I will interpret these provisions consistent with my constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
This is not the first time Obama has issued a signing statement -- a practice he criticized as a candidate -- or even the first time he has protected his czars. He did the same last summer, also sending the statement out on a sleepy Friday evening.
The statement also rejects a number of provisions aimed at restricting how the White House deals with the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison for terrorism suspects.
"My Administration has repeatedly communicated my objections to these provisions, including my view that they could, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles," Obama wrote. "In approving this bill, I reiterate the objections my Administration has raised."
The bill additionally tries to restrict several other White House initiatives, including spending money on certain military actions and in other foreign policy areas. Obama put Congress on notice that he will interpret those sections as he sees fit under the Constitution.
Read Obama's statement letter here.
Michael McAuliff covers politics and Congress for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.