What Can Happen if the President Chooses to Veto a Law That Has Been Approved?

What Can Happen if the President Chooses to Veto a Law That Has Been Approved

In a democratic setup where checks and balances are pivotal, the veto power of the president plays a significant role. When Congress passes a bill, it is sent to the president for approval. But what if the president decides to veto, or reject, a bill that has been approved by Congress? Here’s what can happen:

1. Return of the Bill to Congress

The first step following a presidential veto is the return of the bill to Congress. The president must specify the reasons for the veto, allowing Congress to either amend the bill or reconsider it. This is what’s known as a ‘regular veto’. There is also a ‘pocket veto’ where the president can effectively veto a bill by not signing it for ten days (excluding Sundays) while Congress is adjourned.

2. Reconsideration in Congress

Upon receiving a vetoed bill, Congress may decide to reevaluate the bill in light of the president’s objections. This may lead to further debates and possible amendments to the bill. It’s also possible that the Congress might drop the bill altogether if it deems the president’s objections as valid or if there is not enough support to override the veto.

3. Attempt to Override the Veto

If Congress strongly believes in the necessity of the bill, it may attempt to override the president’s veto. To do this, a two-thirds majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate is required. Achieving this majority is often difficult, making a successful override relatively rare. If the override attempt is successful, the bill becomes law despite the president’s veto.

4. Political and Public Repercussions

The president’s decision to veto a bill can have political and public repercussions. It can be seen as a refusal to cooperate with the legislature or, alternatively, as a strong stand for certain principles. Public opinion can swing either way. If the vetoed bill was popular among the public, the president may face criticism and a decrease in approval ratings. Conversely, if the bill was controversial or viewed as detrimental by the public, the veto could be seen as a positive action and may bolster the president’s standing.

5. Judicial Involvement

In some cases, a president’s veto and the subsequent actions by Congress might result in legal disputes. These disputes can be taken to the courts, and in some instances, reach the Supreme Court. The judiciary then has the role of interpreting the constitutionality of the president’s veto and Congress’ actions.

6. Policy and Legislative Stalemate

Repeated vetoes can lead to a legislative stalemate where very little gets accomplished due to the continuous back-and-forth between the executive and legislative branches. This can have far-reaching implications for policy-making and governance, and can sometimes lead to public frustration and political polarization.

7. Effect on Future Legislation

A presidential veto can set a precedent for future legislation. It can send a message to Congress about the kinds of bills the president is likely to approve or disapprove of, possibly affecting the legislative agenda and priorities.


The power of a presidential veto is a critical tool in the balance of governmental powers. It allows the president to check the legislature, but it is not without its checks. The actions and reactions that follow a presidential veto are reflective of the complexities and intricacies of democratic governance. It’s a dance of powers, woven into the fabric of democracy, meant to ensure that not one branch of government holds all the sway.

By Carol Cooperman