A veto override

For the first time in the Bush presidency, Congress has overridden a presidential veto. Of course, the incumbent president has vetoed very few bills (4, if I recall correctly).

In my discussion of his first veto–back when his own party still had congressional majorities–I noted that there are two basic types of veto. There are vetoes that follow the apparent intentions of Madison and Hamilton as being a defensive tool by the executive against acts of congress that impose burdens on the national treasury for particularistic advantage. And then there are those vetoes that allow the president to defend an ideological minority whose preferences were defeated in the bill congress passed.

Each veto issued by Bush before the one just overridden would be of the second type: The ideologue protection veto: The stem-cell research bill, the Iraq war “timeline” bill, and the S-CHIP bill.

The one now overridden, on the other hand, was clearly of the first type: the anti-particularism veto.

So, of course, congress overrides the latter. After all, as the Houston Chronicle notes in the headline of its article on the override–“Water projects in Texas authorized by veto override“–no matter how principled a conservative ideologue may be, he or she still lives somewhere and that location has canals and floodways and aqueducts that would benefit from a little federal assistance.

If the logroll is big enough, it can survive the veto. And water projects know no real ideological boundaries.

Next up the farm bill. Lots of pork, threatened veto, but will the pro-ag members of the House of Representatives be able to spread enough largesse around the country’s districts to get the needed two thirds vote?

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