The term “veto” comes from Latin, and means “I forbid.” The concept of the veto has been around for thousands of years. It first appeared in the Roman Senate. The power to veto still exists today and is, in fact, one of the most unique and interesting abilities held by the President of the United States.
It is the job of Congress to create laws. In order for a law to be created, it starts off as a bill, which then needs to pass through both the House of Representatives and the Senate. After passing through Congress, the bill appears at the desk of the President. For the bill to become a law, it needs to be signed by the President. If the bill is not signed within ten days, it is returned to congress, and the President is required to provide his objections to the legislation in writing. This return to Congress is a veto.
A Presidential veto does not kill a bill off for good. After being vetoed, the bill returns to Congress, where it will be subject to votes in both houses. In order for the bill to become a law without the President’s approval, it must be approved by a two-thirds majority vote. Following a passing vote, the bill can become law without the President’s approval. The passing of a law into a bill following Presidential veto is extremely rare and only takes place approximately 10 percent of the time.
Why the President has Veto Power
The Presidential power to veto is part of the system of checks and balances. In order to prevent any one branch of government from gaining too much power, each branch is granted power over the others. The Judicial Branch holds power over laws which have already been enacted. Laws brought to the Supreme Court of the United States can be deemed unconstitutional and thus be abolished entirely.