Can The President's Veto Be Overridden?

A presidential veto can be overwritten.
A presidential veto can be overwritten.

A president’s veto is the power granted to the president by the constitution to refuse to approve a bill. Failure to pass the bill means that it cannot be enacted into law. Instead, the president returns the bill to its house of origin accompanied by his objections in writing. The house responsible will then prioritize the bill for debate and interrogate the issues of concern to the president. Once they make amendments to the bill, they can send it back to the president for approval. The constitution provides the president with ten days to review and sign a bill into law. In case the president does not endorse the bill within the time provided, the bill becomes law without his signature. However, a pocket veto occurs when within the ten days provided for the president to sign the bill, the Congress adjourns. Therefore, the president is unable to return the bill to either the House of Representatives or Senate. Hence, if the ten days elapse without the president signing the bill, it does not become law.

The process of overriding the president’s veto

A president’s veto can be overridden. When the president reviews a bill and has reservations about signing it, he sends it back to the house of origin with his objections. However, instead of making the changes outlined by the president, both houses may pass the bill by a two-thirds vote. Normally, the houses pass a bill by a simple majority which is half of the members present. A two-thirds vote is a high number to attain. If achieved, then the bill becomes law in spite of the president’s objections. Consequently, the president’s veto will have been overridden. Historically, only 4.4% of the president’s vetoes have been overridden by Congress.

Purpose of provision to override a president’s veto

A president’s veto is a measure of checks and balances provided by the constitution for the US government. It ensures that Congress does not become too powerful hence preventing the abuse of power. Thus, the president’s veto is necessary since it allows for separation of powers of the president and Congress. Overriding the president’s veto also enables Congress to prevent misuse of power by the president.

Examples of vetoes that have been overridden in the US

Some of the US presidents whose vetoes were never overridden by Congress were Presidents John F. Kennedy, Warren Harding, William McKinley, and Lyndon B. Johnson. During President Bill Clinton’s rule, a bill restricting shareholders’ ability to sue for securities fraud was overridden. Clinton vetoed 37 bills, only two out of these were overridden by Congress. In 2008, Congress did override President Bush’s veto on Medicare. The bill which would protect doctors from cuts in their Medicare was objected by Bush stating that it would be “fiscally irresponsible” to pass the bill. Most recently, President Obama had one veto overridden by Congress. The bill related to the families of the 9/11 victims who sought to file a lawsuit against the Saudi Arabian government. He felt that the private citizens had the right to sue the government of Saudi Arabia for their loss. Both the House of Representatives and Senate did not agree with him on the matter.


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