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The Power of the Veto


I enjoy writing about politics and the issues with having a two-party system.


Individual states no longer can rely on their elected senators to represent for the will of the state that elected them. The senatorial practice of putting allegiance to their party above their allegiance to their state has become increasingly prevalent. This is evidenced most notably in the often discussed Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Affordable Care Act was signed into law March 23, 2010, and was subsequently challenged in federal court when a majority of states sought to overturn portions of the act. The challenge was negated when the Supreme Court ruled that the questioned portions of the act could be interpreted as taxes. This history is well known. A list of which states filed lawsuits, and how their senators voted, is contained in another article of mine

The part that is often overlooked about the history of the Affordable Care Act is that there is something fundamentally wrong with how our laws are made when a majority of states object to the laws their senators have passed. Worse is that the Supreme Court, by act if not by words, upheld the notion of purely partisan politics as a means to create laws for our nation.

We currently have two dominant parties in American politics, the Democrats and the Republicans. It has become something of a tradition for us to periodically switch which party is elected to power. First the Democrats rule, then the Republicans rule. Both sides use a variety of tactics to inhibit the other from being able to do the things necessary to run the country. In practice, our nation has become bipolar, and hence dysfunctional. How we present ourselves to the world changes from administration to administration as the parties switch power. How we present the federal face to the people of America also changes. This occurs because partisan politics dominates the day-to-day workings of the federal government.

States Representation Is a Sanity Check on the Federal Government

During the Obama administration, there was much discussion of putting forth an effort to attempt to repeal the 17th Amendment of our constitution. For those who do not know, the 17th Amendment says: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for a period of six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.”

The prior notion was that senators represented for their state legislatures. State legislatures are typically composed of people experienced with the efforts involved in enacting, policing, and enforcing laws within their state. They develop a sense of what will work and what will not work when it comes to creating enforceable laws that are of benefit (and not burden) to the people of their states. Prior to the 17th Amendment, this was slow—the dominant form of transportation was largely still by horse and carriage, and communication was still by letter or telegraph.

Prior to the 17th Amendment, senators were selected by a method of choosing within each state. Additionally, states supposedly had the right to instruct their senator on how to vote with respect to laws brought before the Senate. In practice, this provided a sanity check on what sort of laws got passed by our federal government, and served as one of the checks on federal power in our overall government system. That check relied on senators faithfully representing for their state, or owing allegiance to their state.

With the 17th Amendment, this encouragement to represent for experienced governance no longer need to be honored by our senators. The sanity check on what became law was no longer required. The bipolar effect of a two party system was allowed to grow.

Discussion on the 17th Amendment is online (search for 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution). Seven states did not ratify the original amendment. Two states became states after the amendment was approved. With the recent discussions of repeal, one state has called for offering an amendment in Congress to repeal the 17th Amendment. (Utah … March 2, 2016)

U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 7, Second Paragraph:

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.

Checks and Balances

The powers of the president are few, but are rather powerful. One of those is the power to select advisor to the president, usually cabinet members. The Senate has the power to approve presidential selections, or to not approve, or to even delay. Under a fully partisan system, the senators do not have to answer to the states on whether to approve or disapprove anyone nominated to a position by the president. They can that solely on a partisan basis.

Checks and balances are wonderful things.

The Senate has the power to make laws. They do not have to answer to the states when they make those laws, they can make laws solely on a partisan basis. Recent history suggests, that in times of stress, senators will show allegiance to their party rather than their state. Of course, any law passed by Congress is subject to presidential approval, or if the president feels it is warranted, a presidential veto.

Checks and balances are wonderful things.

President Trump

From Wikipedia commons Donald_Trump_official_portrait.jpg

From Wikipedia commons Donald_Trump_official_portrait.jpg

Why This Article iI Titled “Power of the Veto"

On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated the 45th president of the United States. He has nominated folks for cabinet level positions, and has encountered persistent resistance from the Senate. He has indicated on multiple occasions that he is in favor of states rights. What if he begins to exercise the power of the veto? Is there some reason he cannot reach out to the various states government to find out whether they have objections to any law he regards as contentious? Can he not do a simple poll of the states to find out where they really stand on a law prior to it being passed into federal law? Can he choose to honor their request that it remain a state level matter, and honor their request for the federal system to not be involved?

Even better, can he not reach out to the states with the simple question: “Is your state legislature comfortable with how they are being represented with respect to the creation of law at the federal level?”

After all, if worse comes to worse, and we once again find ourselves in a situation where senators failed to represent for their states, he could always tell the Senate “If you had done your job, this law would not be vetoed.”

Will We See?

Will we see a future where the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed and replaced by the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA)?

Will we see the repeal of the 17th Amendment and the restoration of states representation at the federal level?

Will we seen an American epiphany—where the insanity of bipolar partisan politics is mitigated by the revived sanity check of states representation?

SchoolHouse Rock: "I'm Just A Bill" from TheGreatWorker

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


FitnezzJim (author) from Fredericksburg, Virginia on March 02, 2017:

You are correct. I may get energetic and see if I can gather the data to show number of laws, number of vetoes, and number of vetoes overrides for each Congress we have had since the country was founded. There may be some interesting "reveals" in looking at the data in that way, and seeking correlations between that and, say, growth in the economy.

Banned cause of PISSANTS Promisem and Dean Traylor on February 28, 2017:

I'm sure if you Google your questions like "Do some Presidents have a high number of vetoes" you will find the answers.

FitnezzJim (author) from Fredericksburg, Virginia on February 28, 2017:

I followed your suggestion and visited the House site. I find it interesting that only one in twenty five vetoes get overturned.

Some Presidents have a high number of vetoes, while others only have a few. If graphed over time, how would the number of vetoes compare to the number of bills that have passed Congress. Do some Presidents have a high number of vetoes because more laws were passed, or because they were more inclined to veto.

Also, were there any the long-term effects because of high occurrence of vetoes. Historically, are vetoes a good thing, or are they a bad thing?

Banned cause of PISSANTS Promisem and Dean Traylor on February 27, 2017:

Jim of course it was a compromise. The entire constitutional process required compromise and amendments but none of that means that concerning the final compromises, the constitution and it's amendments as they stand and have stood for generations, there is any question as to what the State and Federal powers are or are not which I have demonstrated and stated repeatedly.

A simple Google search of "presidential veto power" gives your answer to your question, "If you do know of any statutes or regulations or laws or policy that govern the “veto” decision, please feel free to share."

Article I, section 7 of the Constitution grants the President the authority to veto legislation passed by Congress. You want details beyond that here they are http://history.house.gov/Institution/Presidential-...

FitnezzJim (author) from Fredericksburg, Virginia on February 27, 2017:

And - I have added a quote of the section of the U.S. Constitution pertaining to the veto process. It's kind of bland though, so I also added a link to the old Schoolhouse Rock song "I'm Just A Bill". Poor Bill, after all that work, and as he nears the end of his journey, he might face a veto.

FitnezzJim (author) from Fredericksburg, Virginia on February 27, 2017:

First, thanks to both "Setank" and "Don't Taze Me" for the comments and for the constructive discussion.

Second, my readings have led me to the same conclusion as “Setank” regarding the question of State versus Federal power, that our system was a compromise at the beginning. That said, most of my insight on the history of the struggle between Federal and State comes from reading the discussions of the Yahoo Newsgroup named "Repeal_the_17th Amendment". Some of the participants there have their lectures quoted on the summary Wikipedia article on the 17th amendment.

Third, I appreciate the argument “Don’t Taze Me” presented regarding what should factor into how the President goes about deciding whether to veto a law or not. In truth, I’ve never noted anything in the Constitution that says what criteria the President has to consider when making that decision. For that reason, I picked the criteria “Do the States have a problem with this law?” If you do know of any statutes or regulations or laws or policy that govern the “veto” decision, please feel free to share. We can share those restrictions with our new President in hopes that he does not do anything that might be regarded as contentious.

Banned cause of PISSANTS Promisem and Dean Traylor on February 27, 2017:

Who said this was something new? I'd appreciate it if you didn't raise such a straw man, something I never even implied simply because you can't concede you are wrong.

Setank Setunk on February 27, 2017:

I understand your frustration with our eroded political system, but you are misguided in the idea that this is something new. Our Constitution and the Government we currently have was created from a compromise between Delegates that wanted supreme federal authority and Delegates who wanted limited federal authority.

Banned cause of PISSANTS Promisem and Dean Traylor on February 27, 2017:

Wrong. The struggle between State and Federal authority didn't begin with the creation of our constitution, it begins with the ignoring of the constitution which plainly and absolutely makes it very clear that:

the Feds are not allowed to handle any issues not explicitly listed in the Constitution’s articles, and the subsequent Amendments; their prerogatives are limited to what the Constitution explicitly states.

This fact is totally ignored when federal laws are passed that are not constitutionally in the prerogative of the federal government and as we have seen in Arizona, God forbid if any state pass a law that is solely in the prerogative of the federal government.

Setank Setunk on February 26, 2017:

Your observations are correct. The struggle between State and Federal authority began with the creation of our constitution and ended with the capitulation of the Confederate States of America in the Civil War. Although the abolition of slavery is presented historically as the catalyst for the war, the real issue was rather or not individual States or the Federal Government had ultimate authority. Several Amendments, including the 17th, were put in place to permanently restrict the power of individual States.

Banned cause of PISSANTS Promisem and Dean Traylor on February 26, 2017:

"Whether they have objections to any law he regards as contentious" is meaningless. A simple poll of the States to find out where they really stand on a federal law prior to it being passed is irrelevant. Choosing to honor their request that it remain a State level matter, and honor their request for the federal system to not be involved is not really a choice he should unconstitutionally make.

The only choice President Trump should have to make is whether the law is constitutionally under the prerogative of the Federal Government. It's a matter of what is written in black and white the constitution which states specifically what is the job of the Federal government and anything that does not come under that constitutional provision is in the domain of the States alone and not the federal government.

Whether a law is constitutional or not is seldom considered. The Congress and the Executive Branch, whichever party controls them, often implement various policies and don’t even consider whether the Constitution authorizes them or not. Omitting the constitutionality question allows liberals to set the terms of the debate, specifically, to ensure that the program/agency/policy is continued if a majority of Americans believe it makes sense and deserves federal funding.

But the question "Is this Constitutional?” should actually be the first question asked, because the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land.

And if the federal government is reduced and reined in line with the limits imposed by the Constitution, the government will be small, will stop interfering with issues it shouldn’t tinker with, the federal budget will be balanced, and most of America’s social problems will be solved, because most of them have resulted from federal interventionist policies.

In fact, there are practical and constitutional arguments against every liberal domestic policy. The Constitution’s articles, and the subsequent Amendments, specify the prerogatives of the Feds.

These prerogatives belong to one of the following categories:

1) Defense, war prosecution, peace, foreign relations, foreign commerce, and interstate commerce;

2) The protection of citizens’ constitutional rights (e.g the right to vote) and ensuring that slavery remains illegal;

3) Establishing federal courts inferior to the SCOTUS;

4) Copyright protection;

5) Coining money;

6) Establishing post offices and post roads;

7) Establishing a national set of universal weights and measures;

8 ) Taxation needed to raise revenue to perform these essential functions.

Those are the only prerogatives of the Feds. The Tenth Amendment states that all prerogatives not explicitly given to the Federal Government, nor prohibited of the states, are reserved to the states or to the people (i.e. individual Americans). So the Feds are not allowed to handle any issues not explicitly listed in the Constitution; their prerogatives are limited to what the Constitution explicitly states.

So this is not hard. Nor is there any reason for Trump to consult what states want by polls before vetoing any law. It's plain and simple, if it is not a prerogative of the Federal Government it is in the jurisdiction of the states ALONE.

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