The House of Representatives passed the Keystone pipeline bill that President Obama has threatened to veto. They passed it 270-152, following the Senate approving it 62-36 in January. It now goes to Obama for what is being touted as an inevitable veto; the press are expecting Obama to stand by his veto threat.

The power of the veto is a key one for the President, but it’s use is rather blunt. There is little room for any grey area – either you sign a bill, or you veto it. If you overuse the veto, or threaten to use it too often, it becomes ineffective. Therefore a President has to pick and choose wisely. But if you threaten the veto, you must be seen to follow through, otherwise future threats become meaningless.

In this instance, the notable facts are the votes from Congress – neither house passed the bill with a 2/3rd majority, the required amount for a veto override. Therefore if Obama does veto, Congress would have to convince people who voted against the bill initially, to switch sides and override the veto – a difficult and unlikely task. Therefore there is a good possibility that if Obama does veto this bill, the veto will stand. Either way, it is a useful example for presidential powers and the relationship between President and Congress.

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