It was reported yesterday that President-elect Obama told a closed-door meeting of senators that he would veto any resolution to restrict the second TARP tranch of $350 billion. Because Congress has fifteen days from Monday to pass the resolution and the president has 10 days to veto it, any such showdown would occur no later than the president’s first two weeks in office. But because of the urgency involved, it could come as early as inauguration day.
That got me, the author of a recent paper on the history of the veto, wondering whether it would be the earliest veto in any president’s first term. As I suspected even before cracking the books, the current record holder is Gerald Ford who vetoed legislstion to “reclassify positions of deputy marshals” on day 4 of his adminstration. But, as they would say in track and field, that record is “wind-aided.” Similarly, Lyndon Johnson vetoed amendments to a tariff act on day 37. Among first term elected presidents, the mark is day 36 by U.S. Grant. This one also deserves an asterick because it was a pocket veto after one of the short March legislative sessions that were held prior to the constitutional amendment moving inauguration from March to January.
So I declare that the modern record is held by Obama’s idol FDR who vetoed amendments to the Federal Farm Loan Act after just 103 days. So Obama would absolutely smash this mark unless one side blinks (which alas I predict will be the case).
Here is how all the other presidents since 1900 stack up. The topics of some of the vetoed legislation are downright quaint.
|President||Entered Office||First Veto||Day in Office||Topic|
|Bush II||1/20/2001||7/19/2006||2007||Restrictions on Stem Cell Funding|
|Clinton||1/20/1993||6/7/1993||139||FY 1995 Supplemental|
|Bush I||1/20/1989||7/1/1989||163||Export of technology for FS-X aircraft|
|Reagan||1/20/1981||11/23/1981||308||Continuing appropriation for FY 1982|
|Carter||1/20/1977||11/5/1977||290||Authorization for Energy Research Development Admin|
|Ford||8/9/1974||8/12/1974||4||Reclassify positions of deputy Marshals|
|Johnson||11/24/1963||12/30/1963||37||Amend Tariff Act of 1930|
|Kennedy||1/20/1961||5/26/1961||127||Relief of William Joseph Vincent|
|Eisenhower||1/20/1953||6/15/1953||147||Relief of Helmuth Wolf Gruhl|
|Truman||4/12/1945||7/17/1945||97||Amend Selective Training and Service Act|
|F. Roosevelt||3/4/1933||6/15/1933||104||Amend Federal Farm Loan Act|
|Hoover||3/4/1929||4/21/1930||414||Coin 50-cent pieces commemorating Gadsden Purchase|
|Coolidge||8/2/1923||5/3/1924||276||Omnibus pension bill|
|Harding||3/4/1921||12/20/1921||292||Codify, Amend, and Revise Laws related to Judiciary|
|Wilson||3/4/1913||10/22/1913||233||Reinstate Adolph Unger at West Point|
|Taft||3/4/1909||3/28/1910||390||Amend military record of Aaron Cornish|
|T. Roosevelt||9/14/1901||3/11/1902||179||Remove Desertion charge from John Glass|