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Presentment Clause: Wikis


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The Presentment Clause (Article I, Section 7, Clauses 2 and 3) of the United States Constitution outlines federal legislative procedure (that is, how bills originating in Congress become federal law) in the United States.



The clause states:

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.


  • The bill must be passed in identical form in both the House of Representatives and Senate and signed by the President (in modern times, similar but not identical bills passed by both houses go to conference committee for final revisions before returning to both houses to pass in identical form)
  • The president may either sign a bill into law or veto it, sending a veto message with his objections back to the house that originated the bill
  • A two-thirds majority of both houses may override the veto, and it becomes law without the President's consent
  • If, while Congress is in session, the President does not sign a bill or veto it within 10 days (not counting Sundays) of its issuance, it automatically becomes law.
  • If, while Congress is not in session (adjourned), the President does not sign a bill or veto it within 10 days (not counting Sundays) of its issuance, it fails. This pocket veto cannot be overridden by Congress, although when Congress does convene again they can pass the same bill again. Congressional pro forma sessions may be used to prevent pocket vetoes[1]

Veto issues


Line-item veto

The Supreme Court of the United States decision in Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998), struck down as unconstitutional the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, holding that the line-item veto violated the Presentment Clause.

Legislative veto

The Supreme Court also found the legislative veto unconstitutional in Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983), as violating the Presentment Clause and bicameralism.

Exclusion of Sundays

The ten day period for the presidential review of legislation excludes Sundays. Some scholars believe this exclusion was not for religious reasons, but intended to support a deliberative process in which the President would consult and seek advise regarding the merits of the proposed law. For instance, Jaynie Randall has stated that because the blue laws of various states restricted travel on Sundays, to allow a full ten days of consideration between the President and his advisors, the drafters of the Constitution excluded Sundays from the review period.[2] However, Justice Brewer, speaking for a unanimous Supreme Court in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457 (1892), cited the Presentment Clause as a clear example of why “no purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people.”[3] Specifically, the Court stated:

Even the Constitution of the United States, which is supposed to have little touch upon the private life of the individual . . . provides in Article I, Section 7, a provision common to many constitutions, that the executive shall have ten days (Sundays excepted) within which to determine whether he will approve or veto a bill. There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning. They affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation.[4]

National Archives

1 U.S.C. § 106a provides that whenever a bill becomes law or takes effect, it will be received by the Archivist of the United States from the President. This allows the National Archives and Records Administration to maintain records of and publish the enacted laws.

See also


  1. ^ " - Democrats say Bush can’t pocket veto defense bill". Retrieved 2008-09-06.  
  2. ^ Randall, Jaynie (2008), "Sundays Excepted", Alabama Law Review 59 (2): 507, 514-23,, retrieved 2009-06-05  
  3. ^ Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457, 465 (1892)[1]
  4. ^ Church of the Holy Trinity, 143 U.S. at 470.


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