The Veto Record of FDR
Samuel B. Hoff
Presidents possess a plethora of tools to wield in the legislative arena. One formal power is the veto, which is normally utilized when a president faces a minority of partisans in Congress or when the legislature is dominating the issue agenda.1 However, the employment of the qualified negative by Franklin Roosevelt contradicted both of these trends. The intent of this chapter is to investigate the manner by which FDR's use of the veto coincided with the advent of the modern presidency, to examine precedentsetting actions of the Roosevelt administration relating to different types of vetoes, and to assess the extent to which the veto's employment during the New Deal affected not only Franklin Roosevelt's presidency but subsequent chief executives as well. Previous studies have ignored the importance of this constitutional power for FDR's activist legislative program and his historical standing as one of the nation's most successful political leaders.
Veto frequency changed considerably after the Civil War. Up to the beginning of Abraham Lincoln's administration there were thirty-four regular vetoes of bills, an average of slightly fewer than one per Congress, and only eighteen pocket vetoes, or one per two Congresses. From 1860 to