1. All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives;
All bills proposing taxes shall originate in the House of Representatives; 1
but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
but the Senate may either offer suggested changes to the bill or agree with the bill, through amendments to the bill, as with other bills.1
2. 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;
Every bill which the House and Senate have both approved as law, shall be presented to the President of the United States before it becomes law.
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,
If the President approves of this bill, he shall sign it. But if he does not approve he shall return it, with his reasons for objection, to the house (House or Senate) who originally proposed the bill2, 3
who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it.
the originating house shall enter the President’s objections on their Journal and move to reconsider the bill.2, 3
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,
If after they reconsider the bill, the originating house agrees by at least a 2/3 vote to pass the bill, then it will be sent along with the President’s objections to the other house. 2, 3
by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law.
the other house shall reconsider the bill in the same manner. If they agree by at least a 2/3 vote to pass the bill, then it shall become law.3
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.
But in all these cases, the votes in both houses shall be determined by Yeas (vote for) and Nays (vote against), and the names of all of all members voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journals of the respective houses.
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,
If the President does not return a bill within ten days (not counting Sundays) after it is presented to him, then that bill shall become a law, just as if he had signed it,4
unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
unless the Congress is in recess, thus preventing the President from returning it, in which case the bill shall not become a law.5
3. 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)
Every order, resolution, or vote which may require the agreement of the Senate and House of Representatives (except for questions of adjournment)6
shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him,
shall be presented to the President; and before such order, resolution, or vote shall occur, shall be approved by him,6
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.
or being disapproved by the President, 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.6
This section of Article one has a lot information for such a small excerpt of the Constitution. It explains how revenue (tax) bills are to be proposed; it explains the legislative process; and it explains presidential veto powers (and limitations).
1. As one can see, ALL tax law bills are to originate in the House of Representatives. If you recall from my previous posts concerning the House and the Senate, the House of Representatives is the house that is ‘the people’s house’. It is elected by the people. Its numbers are derived from the population of the people. And its members serve a two-year term, so that the people can make swift changes to their elected officials as they see fit. Since tax law most directly affect the people, our founders decided to ensure that the people had more control over taxes, through means of electing and replacing those congressional members directly responsible for initiating tax bills. That is the reason ONLY the House of Representatives may initiate tax bills.
Two caveats to all of this:
(1) Other elected officials involved in the legislative process (the President and the Senate) have found other ways (unconstitutional as they may be) to get tax legislation through without originating in the House.
(2) Even so, the House has passed legislation with which the people have had great grievance. Yet these laws still stand, and these representatives still reign as incumbents in the House of Representatives. Why is that? Because the people have gotten lazy, apathetic, or discouraged. As a result, they stop participating in the election process and stop holding their elected representatives accountable to do what they were elected to do. If you are unhappy with Capitol Hill, THE ONLY WAY TO FIX IT IS TO GET INVOLVED: Vote, attend town hall meetings, stay in contact with your elected officials, and vote their butts out if they are not doing what you sent them to Washington, D.C., to do.
2. In the infinite wisdom our founders possessed, they ensured that there were three branches to our government: the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial. They ensured that each branch had a way to hold the other two branches accountable: the system of checks and balances. The President holds Congress accountable through his power to veto any bills they pass. The Congress has the power to hold the President accountable by overriding his vetoes.
3. The fact that the Congress can still pass a bill into law, even after a presidential veto, shows that our founders intended Congress to have the upper hand when it came to their specific power: to propose and pass legislation (hence their other name: the ‘Legislative’ branch). Our founders wanted them to be kept in check through presidential veto power, but still have the ability to do their jobs if the President wound up abusing his power of veto by re-voting and passing the law anyway.
It is my belief that our founders also expected reason and common sense in this ability to override a veto. The President, according to the Constitution, is supposed to not just return the bill simply as ‘rejected’, but he is to return it ‘with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated’, so that that house will take into consideration the reasons for the President’s objections (this is how our founders encouraged compromise…something they did frequently to pass our Constitution). If they still believe the bill should be passed, then they may re-vote on it. In this whole process, though, people’s minds may be swayed by a valid point the President brings up in his objections. This is a concept that, if practiced by our elected officials, provides the best way to ensure that good bills are passed into law and bad bills are either changed to become good or altogether dismissed.
4. This clause prevents (in most cases) the President from simply sitting on a bill to prevent it from becoming law. The President must take some action with the bill. Either sign it, in agreement, or veto it. Unfortunately, presidents have often simply vetoed it without returning it ‘with his Objections.’ I say ‘unfortunately’ because if a president would simply list his objections, then maybe the originating house could actually take action to fix or compromise on what the President deems problem areas with the bill. Regardless, if the President does nothing, then the bill ‘shall be a Law’ just as if he had signed it…‘silence is consent’.
5. This clause sets up what is known as a ‘pocket veto’. If the President does not like a bill, or does not want to take the time to recommend his objections, he can simply sit on the bill and prevent it from becoming law, PROVIDED that Congress goes into recess within the 10-day period that he is required to take action on the bill. The pocket veto has been a matter of controversy throughout our nation’s history.
On one hand, it allows a president to ‘pocket veto’ a bill that Congress has intentionally held until the last minute so that they can push it to the President as ‘urgent’, trying to slip something in with hopes that he overlooks certain portions contained in the bill.
On the other hand, sometimes a legitimate bill is passed to the President in the last minute due to new circumstances or simply because of other legislation that was being considered. In that case, if Congress feels strongly that the bill should be passed, but the President might try to ‘pocket veto’, then Congress may elect to extend their session by ten days, in order for the President to either sign it or return it, hopefully ‘with his Objections’.
Either way, the President would not be able to simply take no action in order for it not to pass. If he did take no action within ten days, then according to the Constitution, it ‘shall be a Law.’
6. This clause of Section 7 basically extends the President’s power of veto beyond just passing a bill. In any matter of business that may need the Senate’s or House’s vote (except for matters concerning the adjournment of Congress), Congress must seek approval from the President. This made clear that Congress could take no action requiring its vote without extending to the President the opportunity to veto such action.
© 2011 Ike Chisholm
All additional materials contained in this work are the ideas and works of the author. Use of these works is forbidden without expressed permission from the author. The text of the Constitution is not copyrighted. It is not the author’s intent to claim the text of the Constitution as his own.