Line-item veto

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The line-item veto, also called the partial veto, is a special form of veto power that authorizes a chief executive to reject particular provisions of a bill enacted by a legislature without vetoing the entire bill. Many countries have different standards for invoking the line-item veto, if it exists at all. Each country or state has its own particular requirement for overriding a line-item veto.

Countries allowing line-item veto


The President of Brazil has the power of the line-item veto over all legislation (art. 84 Federal Constitution of 1988: "The President of the Republic has the exclusive powers to: (...) V.veto bills, either in whole or in part"). Any provisions vetoed in such a manner are returned to the Brazilian congress, and can be overridden by a vote (art. 66 of the Federal Constitution). An example of this came in August 2012, when Dilma Rousseff vetoed portions of a new forestry law which had been criticized as potentially causing another wave of deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest.[1]


The President of Panama has the ability to partially veto portions of a bill.[2]

United States

Federal government

Dating to before the American Civil War, U.S. Presidents including Ulysses S. Grant and Ronald Reagan have sought line-item veto powers. It was not until the presidency of Bill Clinton that Congress passed such legislation.[3] Intended to control "pork barrel spending", the Line Item Veto Act of 1996 was held to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1998 ruling in Clinton v. City of New York. The court affirmed a lower court decision that the line-item veto was equivalent to the unilateral amendment or repeal of only parts of statutes and therefore violated the Presentment Clause of the United States Constitution.[4] Before the ruling, President Clinton applied the line-item veto to the federal budget 82 times.[5][6]

Since then, the prospect of granting the President of the United States a line-item veto has occasionally resurfaced in Congress, either through a constitutional amendment[citation needed] or a differently worded bill. Most recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on February 8, 2012, that would have granted the President a limited line-item veto; however, the bill was not heard in the U.S. Senate.[7] The most-commonly proposed form of the line-item veto is limited to partial vetoes of spending bills.[3]

Confederate States of America

While the Constitution of the Confederate States was largely based on the U.S. Constitution, one of the most notable departures was the granting of a line-item veto to its president.[8] Jefferson Davis, however, never exercised the provision.

State governments

Forty-three states—all except Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Vermont—give their governors some form of line-item veto power.[9] The Mayor of Washington, D.C. also has this power.[10]


The articles 137 and 138 of the Constitution of Uruguay allow the Executive Power for total or partial vetoes of any bill by the Parliament.


  1. ^ "Brazil president vetoes parts of law opening up Amazon". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on May 29, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  2. ^ Jackson, Eric. "With Martinelli out of the country, assembly passes nine laws in one". The Panama News. Archived from the original on December 27, 2013. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Madison, Lucy (August 10, 2012). "15 years after its brief existence, line-item veto eludes presidents". Political Hotsheet. CBS News. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  4. ^ Steve Charnovitz, "The Line Item Veto Isn't a 'Veto' at All," National Law Journal, March 23, 1998, p. A17.
  5. ^ "Supreme Court Strikes Down Line-Item Veto". CNN. June 25, 1998. Archived from the original on October 8, 2008.
  6. ^ "History of Line Item Veto Notices". National Archives and Records Administration. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  7. ^ Lawder, David (February 8, 2012). "House votes to give Obama limited line-item veto". Reuters. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  8. ^ "Constitution of the Confederate States; March 11, 1861". Avalon Project.
  9. ^ "Gubernatorial Veto Authority with Respect to Major Budget Bill(s)". National Conference of State Legislatures.
  10. ^ District of Columbia Home Rule Act (Pub.L. 93–198, 87 Stat. 777, enacted December 24, 1973)
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