Friday, November 7, 2014

The Power of the Veto

There is a power that is constitutional. Usually the power is in the Presidents hand. It can also be a power wielded by Congress. In the next Congress, that power could be used by either the President or the Congress to their advantage depending on the issue. That power is the veto.

Here’s how it works. Congress writes a bill, it passes both Houses and then moves to the Presidents desk for signature, or veto. Should the President veto it, the only thing that is left for Congress on that bill is to override the veto.

To override a veto, it takes a two-thirds majority of both Houses to pass it. It is not the 60 votes in the Senate that many think. Under the new Congress coming in, the Republicans hold 245 seats and may gain a few more as tight races are cleared up. In the Senate the Republicans hold 52 seats and will likely gain two more and possibly three. Let’s just go with the two right now.

Now that bill that the President vetoed comes back to the Congress. To pass the House they will need two-thirds or 290 votes to veto. So the Republicans would need to come up with an additional 45 votes over what they currently have. So they will need 45 of the 190 Democrats to vote with them on the veto.

In the Senate, 67 votes are needed to override a veto meaning the Republicans are 13 votes short. They need 13 of the 46 Democrats to side with them to override the veto.

As we all know, much of what is done in Washington is not just about passing a law, but it’s for show and/or for use in the next campaign for re-election. Passing a good law is secondary.

Let’s assume for a minute that the Republicans come up with a law, perhaps immigration reform that even the polls may say is acceptable. It passes the House, then it passes the Senate (which means that 6 Democrats would have to sign on as well). But when it arrives at the President’s desk, he vetoes it.

The bill then comes back to the Congress. The Republicans then schedule a vote to override the veto. They should then put on a massive media campaign that they have passed a law, the polls are with them. It’s now up to Democrats to join them to get this law passed.

There are some different perspectives to look at. First, the Republicans. If the override fails, they have an issue for the next election. They can then go on the campaign trail and say their opponents voted against immigration reform that the people approved of.

Second the Democrats. Before the vote, they must consider if they can defend voting against it, or should they vote for it even if they have some problems with it, but overall it’s an acceptable bill for them to be in favor of. If they join the Republicans, they now have a campaign issue to help them in the next election.

Should 45 Democrats in the House and an additional 7 Democrats in the Senate join the Republicans, they have in effect rendered the President irrelevant. Our Congress, both House and Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, have now come together to put the government back into the hands of the Constitution.

For the remainder of the Presidents two years in office he will have to seriously consider vetoing a bill and his reasons for it. If he’s just using the veto pen because it’s a Republican bill, more Americans will see he is just being partisan.

There is one other perspective. If the bill is not a great one, and the veto holds, Congress will then have to, If they are serious about any bill, will have to do a better job of writing that bill. They will actually have to do quality work rather than just doing anything to say they’ve done something.

You’re welcome to comment.


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