I Forbid: A brief history of presidential vetoes and overrides

In celebration of the recent override of President Bush's veto of a water projects bill, let's take a look at the presidential vetoes and overrides through the ages.

(NOTE: In case you're wondering why I'm posting this now instead of right after the override: I have been working on this post for a couple weeks now, but I've been somewhat busy.)

The word veto comes from the Latin for 'I forbid.' While not mentioned specifically in the Constitution, it has come to describe the President's right to reject a bill. The president's veto power - and Congress's power to override such vetoes - are two of the most well-known examples of checks and balances in US government.

Only seven US Presidents cast zero vetoes during their Presidencies (and two of those died early in their terms). James Garfield was the last President to not veto a single bill; that may have to do with the fact that he died of an assassin's bullet six months into office.

Thomas Jefferson is the only President never to have cast a single veto in two full terms in office. Bush's first term marked the first time since John Quincy Adams that a President went through a full four-year term without vetoing a single bill.

Only eleven Presidents went through their tenure without a single pocket veto. Pocket vetoes account for 42% of all Presidential vetoes.

By overriding Bush's veto of the water-projects bill, Congress used its override power for the 107th time in history - the first time in ten years (almost to the day). In so doing, it has made Bush the 24th US President to see Congress override at least one of his vetoes.

While five of America's first nine Presidents cast a total of 23 vetoes, none of those vetoes were overridden. Congress first used its power to override a veto on March 3, 1845, the day before President John Tyler left office (Inauguration Day back then was March 4). LBJ was the last President who never saw one of his vetoes overridden.

Here's a complete list of US Presidents, the number of vetoes they cast, and the number of vetoes which were overridden:

No comments: