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I know the president has the power to veto a bill passed by House and Senate. I am curious about if a veto happens more often in a unified government or divided government.

  • Are we to include non-signature passages as vetoes for the purposes of counting (the President has a set time to sign the bill or veto it. If he does neither in that window, it becomes effective law. This is often done as a protest to veto-proof bills opposed by the President). I wouldn't hesitate a guess, but I would also advise that you should mention if the president's party is in the minority makes a difference. Unified and divided government speaks to party dominance in the House and Senate only. – hszmv Dec 10 '19 at 14:50
  • If I would hazard a guess, I would say vetoes would occur more frequently in unified governments (when POTUS party is minority) only because its easy to pass legislation that the president may oppose... though the last time this happened, the Republicans didn't move on legislation that wasn't veto and POTUS said he would veto. Divided Government, by it's very nature, doesn't send much in the way of passed bills to the President and most are veto proof because it's an easily agreeable matter. – hszmv Dec 10 '19 at 14:53
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U.S. Senate: Vetoes

Note: the veto counts below include both regular and pocket vetoes as well as vetoes which were ultimately overridden.

116th Congress (2019-Present)

  • Divided: President (R), Senate (R), House (D)
  • Vetoes: 6

115th Congress (2017-2019)

  • Unified: President (R), Senate (R), House (R)
  • Vetoes: 0

114th Congress (2015-2017)

  • Divided: President (D), Senate (R), House (R)
  • Vetoes: 10

113th Congress (2013-2015)

  • Divided: President (D), Senate (D), House (R)
  • Vetoes: 0

112th Congress (2011-2013)

  • Divided: President (D), Senate (D), House (R)
  • Vetoes: 0

111th Congress (2009-2010)

  • Unified: President (D), Senate (D), House (D)
  • Vetoes: 2

110th Congress (2007-2009)

  • Divided: President (R), Senate (D*), House (D) Senate majority was a coalition between Democrats and independents.
  • Vetoes: 11

109th Congress (2005-2007)

  • Unified: President (R), Senate (R), House (R)
  • Vetoes: 1

108th Congress (2003-2004)

  • Unified: President (R), Senate (R), House (R)
  • Vetoes: 0

107th Congress (2001-2002)

  • Divided*: President (R), Senate (D/R), House (R) Senate flipped from D to R to D majority throughout the session.
  • Vetoes: 0

In last 10 sessions of Congress,

  • 6 (60%) were divided, and
  • 4 (40%) were unified.

In the divided Congresses, a total of 27 vetoes were given with the following statistics:

  • a mean 4.50 vetoes,
  • a median of 3 vetoes,
  • a mode of 0 vetoes, and
  • a max of 11 vetoes.
  • 3 (50%) of these Congresses had no vetoes.

In the unified Congresses, a total of 3 vetoes were given with the following statistics:

  • a mean of 0.75 vetoes,
  • a median of 0.5 vetoes,
  • a mode of 0 vetoes, and
  • a max of 2 vetoes.
  • 2 (50%) of these Congresses had no vetoes.

From looking at the past 10 Congresses, it's clear that vetoes are not very common, and half of the Congresses, whether divided or unified, had no vetoes to deal with. However, it is also clear that there have been more vetoes of legislation in sessions where there was a divided government.

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