How Does the President Check the Power of Congress?


The primary check the president has on Congress is the ability to veto legislation. The president can also choose to implement legislation in a manner Congress did not intend. Executive orders also give the president significant power.

As head of the executive branch, presidents are unable to craft new legislation; all legislation much be passed by Congress. While the president often plays a role in crafting legislation, it is up to Congress to vote on and pass it. However, the president can veto any piece of legislation. This veto power is limited because a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and the Senate will override the veto and make the legislation law. In practice, these votes are rare.

While presidents have a duty to enforce laws, they can also choose how to interpret it. As a result, presidents can often avoid areas of the law they find objectionable. In recent years, so-called "signing statements" have become more popular. These statements outline how the president interprets the legislation.

Congress often has few means of recourse if a president chooses to ignore parts of a law. In practice, this usually means that the president fails to enforce certain laws. Executive orders also allow presidents to exercise power over a limited area of government.