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On Vetoes, Bush Beats Harding

After vetoing just one bill in his first six years as president, the stem cell research measure in 2006, President Bush has picked up the pace.

The White House reaffirmed today that Bush will soon veto, likely on Tuesday, a bill blocking cuts in doctors' pay under Medicare. His veto will likely be overridden, as the measure passed both the House and Senate with more than the required two-thirds majorities.

That expected Medicare bill veto will be Bush's 11th in the 110th Congress and his 12th overall (remember that he ended up having to veto the Farm Bill twice because of a clerical error). And if the House and Senate do override, that will mark the fourth override of the Bush administration.

But despite Bush's exponential increase in vetoes since Democrats took over the House and Senate, the 43rd president still has some work to do to catch up to nearly all of his predecessors. Bush has vetoed the fewest bills since Warren G. Harding nixed just six in his term in office. But Harding served less than three years as president, and died in office in 1923. After Harding, the other lowest veto totals in the last century were accumulated by John F. Kennedy (21) and Jimmy Carter (31). Kennedy, like Harding, died in his third year in office, while Carter served just one full term.

And Bush has been historically unsuccessful at getting his vetoes sustained. According to this chart, even before the expected override on Medicare this week, Bush has the second-lowest rate of successful vetoes ever. Only Andrew Johnson, who had roughly three-quarters of his vetoes overridden during Reconstruction, did worse.

By Ben Pershing  |  July 14, 2008; 4:10 PM ET
Categories:  Branch vs. Branch  
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Next: Conservatives: Slow Down on Housing Bailout


Do signing statements and refusals to execute laws count as pseudo-vetoes?

Posted by: byGeorge | July 15, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

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