1,889 days and no vetoes: Bush gaining on Jefferson
By Richard Benedetto, USA TODAY Thu Mar 23, 7:02 AM ET
President Bush Thursday becomes the longest-sitting
president since Thomas Jefferson not to exercise his
veto, surpassing James Monroe.
Monroe was in office 1,888 days before he vetoed his
first bill on May 4, 1822, a measure to impose a toll
on the first federal highway. Jefferson never
exercised his veto during two terms in 1801-09.
Thursday is Bush's 1,889th day in office, and no veto
is in sight. As of Wednesday, Congress had sent him
1,091 bills. He signed them all.
Bush came close to a veto last month when Congress
threatened to block a deal to turn over operations at
ports in six states to a company owned by the Arab
emirate of Dubai. He threatened a veto, but he avoided
a showdown when the Dubai company decided to sell that
part of its business to American interests.
"After that, we're not likely to hear a veto threat
from him that much again," says G. Calvin Mackenzie,
government professor at Maine's Colby College.
Some analysts say Bush's failure to use his veto shows
an unwillingness to confront fellow Republicans who
control Congress. "He doesn't want to fight battles
unnecessarily and create a distance between himself
and his party," says Mark Rozell, a George Mason
University political scientist who has studied
Others say Bush's avoidance of the veto is a sign of
strength. "Bush and his party are so close on most
issues that there's no need to veto," Mackenzie says.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (news, bio, voting record), D-Ill.,
scoffs at that: "This is a rubber-stamp Congress. Why
would he veto anything?"
Still others say it is a matter of Bush's management
style. "He's a CEO kind of guy. He gives his orders,
delegates the negotiating to others and is willing to
live with the outcome," says Robert McClure, a
political scientist at Syracuse University's Maxwell
Bush has used veto threats to shape bills more to his
liking. For example, the House wanted $370 billion for
last year's highway bill; the Senate, $318 billion.
Bush drew the line at $256 billion, then compromised
at $286.4 billion, more than he wanted but far below
the House and Senate levels.
Bush said Tuesday that the veto threat has helped him
reduce the rate of domestic spending: "One reason why
I haven't vetoed any appropriation bills is because
they met the benchmarks we've set."