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Franklin Roosevelt and Veto Power Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 6th, 2021


The United States of America has enjoyed independence since 1796, the year that she was freed by the British colonial government. Since then, the country has continued to grow in all sectors of economy to become the world’s only super power.

On the same note, it has had many presidents, some of which are remembered for their good legacy; while others are remembered for their bad leadership especially in matters pertaining to economy. One of the famous and remembered presidents is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was the United States of America president prior and during the outbreak of the World War II.

Why did President Franklin Roosevelt veto more bills than any other president of the United States of America?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the thirty second president of the United States of America. He became the United States President in 1933, having succeeded Herbert Hoover. Prior to becoming the President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had served as the 44th governor of New York from January 1929 to December, 31st 1932.

According to Pfiffner (21), in order for a bill to pass through, it has to receive a simple majority of votes in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate. He has claimed that in the House of Representatives, at least two hundred and eighteen of the four hundred and thirty five members must vote in favor of such a bill. On the other hand, the Senate has to have at least fifty one members out of the hundred supporting the bill.

In the United States, and as per the constitution, every bill passed by the House of Representatives is given to the president for assent. The president is supposed to approve the bill and sign it before it is made law. If the president does not approve the bill, he should return it to the house, stating his objections, for more debate.

The presidential assent must be done within 10 days without counting Sundays. In case he does not approve and sign the bill by this period, the same bill will become a law. It will fail to become a law if the congress, by their adjournment provides otherwise.

One of the main reasons why President Franklin Delano Roosevelt vetoed many bills during his tenure compared to other presidents is because during his time, the United States of America went through some of the most challenging events in history, that is the Economic Recession of 1929. This therefore called for bills addressing the plight of the people and the country so that adequate measures can to be put in place to protect the whole country. He vetoed a total of six hundred and thirty five bills.

By the time Franklin became the United States president, Pfiffner (21) has argued that the country was still recovering from the 1929 Great Depression that continued to persist until the United States went to war after the attack at the Pearl Harbor. He notes that the attack on Pearl Harbor made the United States of America participate in the World War II.

Therefore, in an attempt to rebuild the United States ailing economy, President Roosevelt initiated a New Deal Concept. This was meant to try and provide relief for all the members of the public and especially the employed ones from loosing such employment opportunities. He noted that, this deal was very complex because it involved other aspects of economy that were all intertwined.

In addition, Conley (20) argues that Roosevelt had established well informed advisors who would help him on when to veto a certain bill. He gave an instance in 1944 when Roosevelt vetoed the tax measures in the Senate. He has observed that Roosevelt vetoed the bill and termed it as a bill not meant to help the poor people but one meant to help the greedy in the society.

He has further stated that Roosevelt wanted to preserve the integrity of the United States of America. He notes that by vetoing some of the bills, Roosevelt wanted them to be taken back to the Senate so that they could be deliberated upon in details so that such bills did not provide obstacles in future.

On the other hand, Henderson (20) has stated that Roosevelt did not want the United States of America citizens deprived of the benefits of areas that had been regarded as historic and recreational. This point has been illustrated by the president refusal to assent to a bill seeking to abolish the Jackson Hole National Monument in 1943. In his remarks, he noted that his predecessors had not abolished the national monument and therefore he would not be exceptional.

Another reason why Franklin Delano Roosevelt vetoed most of the bills was to make sure that the Congress was run by his fellow democrats. This is according to Karlyn (28), who has observed that Franklin Roosevelt had initiated a plan that would help the subsequent Congresses be controlled by the democrats. To make sure his intentions worked as planned, he says that Franklin Roosevelt vetoed most of the bills brought by the Republican members of the Congress for him to assent to.

According to Pfiffner (20), Franklin Delano Roosevelt has been the longest serving the United States of America president in history. He says that some of his predecessors and successors have been serving utmost a period of two terms. However, Franklin Roosevelt served for four terms, that is from 1935 to 1945, when he died while he had just begun his fourth term. As a result, Pfiffner (20) says that this is enough time for him to have vetoed such a huge number of bills.

In addition, Deen (22) has observed that during his tenure, the number of Democrats in the Congress and in the Senate was not enough to counter that of the Republicans. Therefore, whenever a bill was presented to the senate or Congress it sailed through quickly through the simple majority vote.

This left Democrats without any significant influence in both houses. As a result, Franklin Roosevelt had to use his power to veto most of these bills to tame the influence of the Republicans on the Democrats. Moreover, he has claimed that Franklin Roosevelt vetoed some of the bills because they failed to reflect the wishes of many people in the society.

He has argued that Roosevelt’s failures to assent to some of the bills were informed by the public opinion on certain bills. He claims that Roosevelt had been elected as a very popular president and would therefore do all within his powers to make sure that the people are served according to their expectations. He says that during his entire period, Roosevelt remained and died as a popular president.

In 1944, Karlyn (28) noted that President Franklin Roosevelt declined to assent to the Revenue Bill because it was in a way contradicting itself. He says that in his remarks after declining to assent to it, he said that the bill had purported to increase the national revenue by over two billion dollars. However, Roosevelt said that the bill itself would provide less than one billion dollars to the economy. As a result of that, Roosevelt said that he was compelled in deciding that the bill itself was ineffective in realizing its objective.

The other reason why Franklin Delano Roosevelt vetoed some of the bills presented to him for assent was because he wanted to keep the United States of America away from the European affairs. Prior to the attack of the Pearl Harbor by the Japanese navy, many people had requested the President to allow the military to help Europe end the war to no avail. However, soon after the attack, Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan and her allies. The United States therefore joined Britain and her allies in the war.

The failure by Roosevelt to assent to bills presented to him was as a result of huge division by the members of the Congress and the Senate. This is according to Miller Center (2), which says that Roosevelt wanted to remain neutral so that he could not be seen as inclining on one side of the debate.

It says that the president would return such bills to the Senate and the Congress so that they could be debated further and an amicable agreement is found. This would go along way in making sure that there is peace and tranquility after he has assented to such bills. Although, some of the bills he vetoed were later assented to, many people have regarded him as one of the best United States of America chief executives.

Roosevelt goes down in history as the longest serving president in the US, after being elected for a fourth term. This means he came across the number of bills than any other president. Was he to serve for the two terms that most presidents were subjected to, president Grover Cleveland would have passed him for he vetoed the most number of bills than any other president for the full two terms.

Roosevelt is therefore favored by the length of time he served in the office. Coupled with this is also the rate of happening of events at that particular time. This long tenure in the office was characterized by turbulent events of the depression and the World War, meaning a big deal of bills had to be proposed by congress than during normal times.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt has remained the longest serving presidents of the United States to date. Although, he has remained as the President who vetoed most of the bills, his contribution to shaping the modern day United States of Americas’ society has lived on.

Therefore, the subsequent governments should have made sure that his legacy continues to live on by carrying on with all the projects he had initiated. This would be a positive initiative because it will ensure that those born after his death continue to learn about his achievements. In terms of vetoing bills, the subsequent presidents should make sure that the bills are well scrutinized to avoid negative consequences in future arising from such bills.

Works Cited

Conley, Richard. “Toward a New Typology of Vetoes and Overrides.” Political Research Quarterly 54 (2001): pp. 31.

Deen, Rebecca. Veto Threats as a Policy Tool: When to Threaten? Presidential Studies Quarterly 32 (2002): 30-45.

Henderson, Phillip. The presidency then and now. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000.

Karlyn, Kohrs. Presidents creating the presidency: deeds done in words. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Miller Center. “American President: A Reference Resource. Key Events in the

Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” Boston Cengage Learning. n. d. Web.

Pfiffner, James. The Modern Presidency. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2011.

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