In the constitution a supermajority can override a presidential veto. Is there a set time past the motion to veto that congress has to readdress the bill to potentially decide to use a supermajority?

I know bills fully die at the adjourning of Congress, but I'm wondering if there is a shorter timeline for a vetoed bill.

  • 2
    I'm not finding anything that specifies a timeframe, but the normal process for any bill is that it needs to be signed/enacted in that Congressional session, so I'm assuming they have until the end of the session to override. I don't think they get unlimited # of override votes, though. I'll research more and post a definitive answer if someone doesn't beat me to it. Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 14:46
  • 5
    There's nothing in the constitution, so any rule would be made (and therefore changeable and revocable) by congress. It may be interesting to see how long the longest gap is in history.
    – user9389
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 14:53
  • @notstoreboughtdirt - Might be a good followup question, here or on History. I'm curious, too. I presume it isn't very long, because otherwise why pass the bill in the first place.
    – Bobson
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


The US Constitution does not establish a time limit for overriding a veto; therefore, it is up to each chamber to establish its own rules on the matter, as provided in the rules clause of Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution [1]. In practice, each house deals with veto overrides promptly, though their procedures differ slightly. In the House of Representatives the matter is typically disposed of immediately [2]:

On the day a vetoed bill and accompanying presidential message are received, the Speaker lays the message before the House. The veto message is read and entered in the House Journal. It is not necessary for a Member to make a motion to reconsider the vetoed bill. If no Member seeks recognition after the message is read, the Speaker will put the question of overriding the veto before the House

The Senate process apparently takes a little longer, but is otherwise similar:

When the Senate receives a vetoed measure from the President or the House, it is quite common for it to be “held at the desk” for several days and considered only after unanimous consent has been reached on the terms of its consideration.

So, normally the override question is settled within a few days and not allowed to remain open. However, either house could delay consideration through a variety of procedural maneuvers. At this point the motion appears to be subject to the same rules as any other piece of business before the body, which is to say that it would expire when the house adjourns sine die at the end of a Congress. This seems to be confirmed in several reports, though all the ones I could find merely state the fact without further elaboration. For example [3]:

If Congress attempts to override the veto it may do so at any time during that Congress

To summarize, the generally accepted answer seems to be that in both houses the measure is promptly formalized as a motion, where it is then subject to the usual rules of procedure. Usually a decision is made within a few days, but in principle they have until the end of the Congress.

  1. Rules clause of the US Constitution

  2. Veto Override Procedure in the House and Senate, Congressional Research Service Report

  3. The Presidential Veto and Congressional Veto Override Process, Center for Legislative Archives

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