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WASHINGTON – Like pardons and executive orders, vetoes are among the cherished privileges of the Oval Office. Ike liked them. So did presidents Truman and Cleveland - and both Roosevelts.
But apparently not George W. Bush. In fact, well into the fifth year of his presidency, he has yet to issue a single veto.
It's a streak unmatched in modern American history, one that throws into question traditional notions of checks and balances.
Although the streak could end next month - Mr. Bush is threatening a veto if Congress eases his restrictions on federal funding for stem-cell research - the Bush era thus far underscores a historically high-water mark of collegial cooperation between Congress and the White House, experts say.
"We're pretty close to a parliamentary government," says G. Calvin Mackenzie, professor of government at Colby College in Watervillle, Maine, referring to Congress's close alignment with the executive branch. "We don't have much recent history with that."
Bush, however, hasn't even used the veto on legislation he deemed unconstitutional, such as the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform he signed in 2002. That can be read as a sign of weakness, says Matthew Spalding, an expert on American political history at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington. "Veto power has withered away from disuse."
Others take the opposite view. "Presidents who use the veto a lot are weak," says Bruce Altschuler, a professor of political science at Oswego State University of New York, noting Gerald Ford's time in office.
"More-successful presidents use it as a negotiation tool. When Bush has gone to Congress with [veto] threats, he has been effective," he notes.
Still, Bush may have to rely on the veto in years ahead because presidential power typically wanes in a second term. "A president's second term is like an hour glass with the sand running out," says Stephen Hess, professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University in Washington.
Already, Bush has struggled to marshal his party troops behind plans to partially privatize Social Security.
A test of GOP unity could come next month, when Congress will consider a move to relax Bush's limits on federal funding for stem-cell research. Senate majority leader Bill Frist - who is believed to be eyeing a presidential run in 2008 - announced a break with the president just before the August recess last week, a sign that fissures in the Republican bedrock are already appearing.
"The veto is always there; it's the paddle on the wall," says Jack Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif. "Everybody knows it's there. That gives the president a lot of power, no matter the alignment."
Originally posted by CiderGood_HeadacheBad
Besides, Bush seems far more concerned with foreign policy than with domestic affairs.
Edit: Doesn't the Republican party have a majority in congress and in the senate anyway? If so how many votes are likely to go against Bush's opinion?