Extension of the Veto Power

December 28, 1937

Report Outline
Roosevelt's Efforts to Curb Spending
Veto of Items in Appropriation Bills
Veto of “Riders” on General Measures
Veto as Tool of Executive Leadership

Roosevelt's Efforts to Curb Spending

Threatened Revolt in Congress Against Economy

President Roosevelt's efforts to achieve a balanced budget in the fiscal year 1939 may be seriously impeded by the unwillingness of Congress, in an election year, to reduce expenditures in the manner, and to the extent, proposed by the Chief Executive. By its refusal to act during the special session on the President's recommendations for reducing highway-aid appropriations, Congress made it clear that other retrenchment proposals to be advanced by Roosevelt in January, when he submits his 1939 budget estimates, will be scrutinized by the membership from the point of view of their possible effect on the autumn elections. Proposed cuts in expenditures which are regarded as having a depressing effect on campaign prospects are certain to meet with determined resistance.

No top limit has been placed on expenditures under the administration's farm bill, now in conference. In a letter to Senator Barkley, Senate majority leader, on November 27, the President said: “Every effort should be made to keep the new farm program within the present limit of $500,000,000 per annum.” If this were not possible, he urged that “steps be taken to provide the necessary increase in revenue” to cover expenditures in excess of $500,000,000. At the same time, Stephen T. Early, secretary to the President, warned that “any large measure carrying appropriations for which there is not provided by the Congress a fund to come into the Treasury equal to that which the bill takes out is very likely to receive presidential disapproval.” Estimates of the total cost of the farm program during the next year range from $500,000,000 to $1,000,000,000. The pending bill levies no taxes to provide for expenditures above $500,000,000.

New Proposals to Enable President to Veto Items

In an effort to arm the President against future revolts in Congress similar to the one which currently threatens his economy drive, administration leaders are now considering a plan under which the Chief Executive would be empowered to veto separate items in appropriation bills without disapproving the whole measure, A resolution providing for the submission of a constitutional amendment to this end was offered by Rep. Taylor (D., Colo,), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, on November 22. Under the terms of the Taylor proposal, the President would be authorized not only to veto, but also to reduce, separate items in spending measures. During the first session of the present Congress, a similar resolution was offered by Rep. Citron (D., Conn,), while four other resolutions giving the President power to veto, but not to reduce, separate items in appropriation bills were offered by Senators McCarran (D. Nev.) and Vandenberg (R., Mich.) and Representatives Luckey (D., Neb.) and Dirksen (R., Ill.).

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Executive Powers and the Presidency
Feb. 24, 2006  Presidential Power
Nov. 15, 2002  Presidential Power
Feb. 02, 2001  The Bush Presidency
Jun. 20, 1997  Line-Item Veto
Jun. 14, 1996  First Ladies
Oct. 21, 1988  Dangers in Presidential Transitions
Jun. 10, 1988  The Quandary of Being Vice President
Jan. 06, 1984  Presidential Advisory Commissions
Jul. 28, 1978  Presidential Popularity
Feb. 13, 1976  Evaluating Presidential Performance
Dec. 12, 1975  Presidential Protection
Jul. 11, 1973  Presidential Reorganization
Mar. 07, 1973  Presidential Accountability
Sep. 24, 1971  Presidential Diplomacy
Nov. 11, 1970  Vice Presidency
Oct. 02, 1968  Presidential Power
Mar. 14, 1966  War Powers of the President
Nov. 23, 1960  Transfer of Executive Power
Apr. 04, 1956  Vice Presidency
Oct. 15, 1952  Change of Presidents
Jun. 09, 1950  President and Mid-Term Elections
Oct. 20, 1948  Federal Patronage
Mar. 24, 1948  The South and the Presidency
Dec. 05, 1947  Military Leaders and the Presidency
Apr. 16, 1947  Veto Power of the President
Sep. 20, 1945  Succession to the Presidency
Sep. 12, 1940  The War Powers of the President
Feb. 11, 1938  Emergency Powers of the President
Jan. 06, 1938  The Power to Declare War
Dec. 28, 1937  Extension of the Veto Power
Dec. 28, 1936  Limitation of the President's Tenure
Mar. 12, 1935  The President and the Congress
Dec. 16, 1932  The Veto Power of the President
May 28, 1931  Presidential Commissions
Oct. 23, 1928  Presidential Appointments and the Senate
Mar. 21, 1928  Business Conditions in Presidential Years
Jan. 20, 1927  The Monroe Doctrine
Mar. 18, 1925  The President's Power of Appointment
Sep. 10, 1923  The President's Position on Patronage
Powers and History of the Presidency