Article I Section 7

Rules on Bills

All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.

Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.

Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

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If the President decides he does not like a particular bill he has been given a check on Congress in that he can veto the bill. This check is in addition to the regular legislative checks of the system. At this point the bill has already conformed to the balance intended by the interest of the people as expressed by the votes of the House of Representatives, and the interest of the state governments as shown by the vote of the Senate. The President now has the opportunity to express the interest of the nation as a whole by either approving and signing it or returning the bill with the reasons that he objects to it.

Legislative Override

The President does not have the last word on the passage of a bill however. Inasmuch as all legislative powers * are granted to Congress, they have the final say in the matter. They are the ones charged with the responsibility of deliberating the pros and cons of the bill presented and determining what shall be done. This situation however requires a super majority of both houses of Congress since the President found fault with the bill. This is to insure that the wisdom of the President is respected but the prerogative of the Congress is maintained. The Framers decided that concurrence of 2/3 of each house would demonstate the concensus both of the will if the people and the will of the State governments.

Pocket Veto

The Framers wisely anticipated the occurrance of a situation that would often occur when a President objected to a particular bill but didn’t want to send it back to Congress. Without some provision to prevent it, he could just hold the bill (like putting a bill in his pocket and forgetting about it). Without a check on this trick, it would effectively kill the bill. For this reason a ten day window was established for the President to approve or reject it. If he failed to act in that time period, the bill would become law without his signature.

While this solves the problem, it also provides a side benefit to presidents who are watching their political future, or who may think that there is sufficient support for a congressional override to his veto. Bills can be passed that are politically unpopular but the President can escape the blame that would follow his signing of the bill.

End of Session Bills

As with most solutions, fixing this problem opens the door for another problem. What happens to bills submitted at the end of the legislative session? The Framers solved this problem by specifying that bills would not become law without the President’s signature if there wasn’t the 10 days allowed for the President to review and sign it. This provision makes it more difficult for Congress to sneak bills by the President’s examination at the last minute. Last minute bills would need to be signed by the president to become law.

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