Before a law becomes a law, it is introduced as a “bill.”

Although this and the following background information is helpful, your ability to comprehend the essentials—Main Idea, DetailInference—from what you are given to read is more important for answering questions than tapping into an encyclopedic memory.

How Laws Are Made

• When a Senator or Representative has an idea for a new law, he/she produces a rough draft of the idea and sponsors it, which makes it a bill.

• The bill then goes to whichever legislative branch (Senate or House) the Senator or Representative belongs.

• The bill then goes through a process, which can change it, amend, or lay it so there is no vote.

• If the bill undergoes a vote by the entire legislative branch, a majority vote will send it to the other branch where it will go through a similar process.

• If there is a majority vote and both the House and the Senate approve all changes made, the bill then goes to the President.

• The President takes action on the bill by either signing it into law, letting it become law without a signature, vetoing it, or pocket-vetoing it.

• If the President vetoes (rejects) a bill, the bill can still subsequently become law by receiving a two-thirds vote of approval by each House of Congress.

I’m Just A Bill (Schoolhouse Rock!)

Presidential Vetoes

1  Article I, section 7 of the Constitution grants the President the authority to veto legislation passed by Congress.  This authority is one of the most significant tools the President can employ to prevent the passage of legislation.  Even the threat of a veto can bring about changes in the content of legislation long before the bill is ever presented to the President.  The Constitution provides the President 10 days (excluding Sundays) to act on legislation or the legislation automatically becomes law.  There are two types of vetoes: the “regular veto” and the “pocket veto.”

2  The regular veto is a qualified negative veto.  The President returns the unsigned legislation to the originating house of Congress within a 10 day period usually with a memorandum of disapproval or a “veto message.”  Congress can override the President’s decision if it musters the necessary two–thirds vote of each house.

3  The pocket veto is an absolute veto that cannot be overridden.  The veto becomes effective when the President fails to sign a bill after Congress has adjourned and is unable to override the veto.  The authority of the pocket veto is derived from the Constitution’s Article I, section 7, “the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case, it shall not be law.” Over time, Congress and the President have clashed over the use of the pocket veto, debating the term “adjournment.”

Practice – Questions
1.  Which of the following can you infer from this passage?
A.  All vetoes are irreversible.
B.  All vetoes are created equal.
C.  A veto is easily overturned.
D.  The threat of a veto could change legislation in such a way that it would not be vetoed.

2.  What is the main idea of this passage?
A.  A veto is a tool used by the President for gardening.
B.  A veto is a tool used by the Congress.
C.  A veto is a tool used by the President to prevent a bill from becoming a law.
D.  A veto is a tool used by the President to prevent a law from becoming a bill.

3.  The regular veto is a:
A.  qualified negative veto
B.  qualified positive veto
C.  unqualified negative veto
D.  unqualified success

4.  The pocket veto is an:
A.  relative veto
B.  absolute veto
C.  qualified negative veto
D.  unqualified veto

5.  Which of the following does this passage imply?
A.  The pocket veto is straightforward.
B.  The pocket veto is not part of the Constitution.
C.  The pocket veto is a controversial instrument.
D.  The pocket veto is universally accepted.

Practice – Answers
1.  D.  The threat of a veto could change legislation in such a way that it would not be vetoed.

2.  C.  A veto is a tool used by the President to prevent a bill from becoming a law.
Main Idea

3.  A.  qualified negative veto

4.  B.  absolute veto

5.  C.  The pocket veto is a controversial instrument.

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