The Presidential Veto

By | May 3, 2007

The word veto does not appear in the United States Constitution. It states that all legislation passed by both houses of Congress be passed on to the President.

The President can either sign the Bill into Law or if he disagrees with the Bill he returns it to Congress unsigned stating his objections in writing. He has 10 days (excluding Sundays) to make a decision otherwise it will automatically become law. If Congress adjourns before the end of the 10 days the President can decline to sign the Bill into Law, but since Congress is not in session then the Bill dies. Even over the Presidents objection the Bill can become Law if 2/3 of both houses decides to override his objections.

George Washington was the first President to decline to sign a Bill into Law. He did it twice the first on April 5, 1792 on a bill designed to apportion representatives among several states. Neither of these Bills was overridden.

The first time a Presidential rejection of a Bill was overridden and became law was a bill relating to revenue cutters and steamers, rejected by Franklin Pierce.

The President with the most vetoes is Franklin Roosevelt who rejected 635 Bills with 9 of them overwritten. Eight Presidents have not vetoed a bill, but the last was James Garfield who only held office for 6 ½ months. The others all were before Lincoln.

With President Bush’s rejection of H.R. 1591, U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 on May 2, 2007, it became the 2552 time a Bill was rejected by the President. Congress has overridden only 106 of these.


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