Updated January 03, 2009In March 2006, President George W. Bush (43) set a 200-year record, becoming the most veto-less President since the early 1900s. The last President to exercise no vetoes at all was James Garfield, who held office only six months before being shot. (What is a veto?)
When President Bush had been in office 1,889 days, he had signed 1,091 bills and vetoed zero. President Monroe vetoed his first bill on day 1,888, 4 May 1822. Neither Adams nor Jefferson exercised a veto. Prior to President Bush, Garfield is the most recent president who failed to exercise executive veto power.
However, in the early days of the Republica, when Jefferson and Adams were President, Congress was a part-time legislative body. Consequently, the number of bills introduced was minuscule compared to day, giving those Presidents potentially fewer opportunities to exercise the veto.
As a blunt instrument, the Presidential veto serves to stop (perhaps temporarily) the advance of legislation. However, the threat of a Presidential veto can sometimes move Congress closer to the legislative vision held by the Executive.
The Constitution does not explicitly grant the President the power to "veto" -- but Article 1, Section 7 implies this power:
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.
Modern Presidential Vetoes
|Franklin Roosevelt (D)||635||9|
|Harry Truman (D)||250||12|
|Dwight Eisenhower (R)||181||2|
|John F. Kennedy (D)||21||-|
|Lyndon Johnson (D)||30||-|
|Richard Nixon (R)||43||7|
|Gerald Ford (R)||66||12|
|Jimmy Carter (D)||31||2|
|Ronald Reagan (R)||78||9|
|George H.W. Bush (R)||44||1|
|Bill Clinton (D)||37||2|
|George Bush (R)||12||0|