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Mr. Obama was resistant to a “rider” to the stimulus bill that had been included routinely on spending bills for more than a decade.

“I do not interpret this provision to detract from my authority to direct the heads of executive departments to supervise, control and correct employees’ communications with the Congress in cases where such communications would be unlawful or would reveal information that is properly privileged or otherwise confidential,” Mr. Obama wrote.

Said Mr. Grassley, “There seems to be an institutional disease within the executive branch of government under any president that says, ‘We’re going to drag our feet on anything Congress wants to know.’ ”

He vowed to continue his constitutional oversight role of the executive branch, saying he preferred to wage the fight “battle by battle rather than war by war.”

“But this business of what he said in the signing statement, it’s almost war,” he said.