veto

veto [Lat., = I forbid], power of one functionary (e.g., the president) of a government, or of one member of a group or coalition, to block the operation of laws or agreements passed or entered into by the other functionaries or members.

In the U.S. government, Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution gives the president the power to veto any bill passed by Congress. The president's veto power is limited; it may not be used to oppose constitutional amendments, and it may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress. In practice, the veto is used rarely by the president (although Franklin D. Roosevelt vetoed over 600 bills), and a bill once vetoed is rarely reapproved in the same form by Congress. The pocket veto is based on the constitutional provision that a bill fails to go into operation if it is unsigned by the president and Congress goes out of session within ten days of its passage; the president may effectively veto such a bill by ignoring it. The British crown's technical veto power over acts of Parliament has not been exercised since 1707.

American states have generally given their governors veto power similar to that of the president. In addition, more than 40 states have legislated a line-item veto, which, in varying terms, allows the governor to veto particular provisions of taxing and spending bills. In 1996, Congress passed a law that gave the president a limited ability to kill items in similar federal bills, but it was ruled unconstitutional in 1998.

The second type of veto, by one member of a coalition, has been seen frequently as exercised by one or another member of the United Nations Security Council; its use within the European Union is under debate.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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