Line-item veto

Line-item veto

The line-item veto, or partial veto, is a special form of veto that authorizes a chief executive to reject particular provisions of a bill enacted by a legislature without vetoing the entire bill. Many countries have different standards for invoking the line-item veto, if it exists at all. Each country and/or state has its own particular requirement for overriding a line-item veto.


By country


The President of Brazil has the power of the line-item veto over all legislation. Any provisions vetoed in such a manner are returned to the Brazilian congress, and can be overridden by a vote. Recently, the President of Brazil, vetoed portions of a new forestry law which had been criticized as potentially causing another wave of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.[1]


The President of Panama has the ability to partially veto portions of a bill.[2]

United States

Federal government

Starting with Ulysses S. Grant, every US president has asked Congress to enact legislation granting the president line-item veto power but it was not until the Clinton presidency that Congress passed such legislation.[3] Although it was intended to control "pork barrel spending", the Line Item Veto Act of 1996 was held to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in a 1998 ruling in Clinton v. City of New York. The court affirmed a lower court decision that the line-item veto was equivalent to the unilateral amendment or repeal of only parts of statutes and therefore violated the Presentment Clause of the United States Constitution.[4] Before the ruling, President Clinton applied the line-item veto to the federal budget 82 times.[5][6]

Since then, the prospect of granting the President a line-item veto has occasionally resurfaced in Congress, either through a constitutional amendment or a differently-worded bill. Most recently, the House of Representatives passed a bill on February 8, 2012, that would have granted the President a limited line-item veto; however, the bill was not heard in the Senate.[7]

The most-commonly proposed form of the line-item veto is limited to partial vetoes of spending bills.[3]

Confederate States of America

While the Constitution of the Confederate States of America was largely based on the U.S. Constitution, one of the most notable departures was the granting of a line-item veto to the President.[8] Jefferson Davis, however, never exercised the provision.

State governments

Forty-three states - all except Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont — give their governors some form of line-item veto power.[9] The Mayor of Washington, D.C. also has this power.[10] Use of the line-item veto remains far less controversial at the state level than at the federal level.


  1. ^ "Brazil president vetoes parts of law opening up Amazon". New Straits Times. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Jackson, Eric. "With Martinelli out of the country, assembly passes nine laws in one". The Panama News. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Madison, Lucy. "15 years after its brief existence, line-item veto eludes presidents". Political Hotsheet. CBS news. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Steve Charnovitz, "The Line Item Veto Isn't a 'Veto' at All," National Law Journal, March 23, 1998, p. A17.
  5. ^ "Supreme Court Strikes Down Line-Item Veto". CNN. June 25, 1998. Archived from the original on October 8, 2008. 
  6. ^ "History of Line Item Veto Notices". National Archives and Records Administration. 
  7. ^ Lawder, David. "House votes to give Obama limited line-item veto". Reuters. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "Constitution of the Confederate States; March 11, 1861". Avalon Project. 
  9. ^ "Gubernatorial Veto Authority with Respect to Major Budget Bill(s)". National Conference of State Legislatures. 
  10. ^ District of Columbia Home Rule Act (Pub.L. 93–198, 87 Stat. 777, enacted December 24, 1973)

See also