Here's Why Congress Can't Veto The President-Elect

It may have looked pretty hairy there for a while, but it can now be conclusively said that you survived the 2016 presidential race! And with Election Day at its end, we finally know the outcome: Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. But even with all the votes tallied, it's understandable if you're still wondering whether anything could happen to change that outcome. For instance, have you ever wondered if Congress can veto a president-elect?

Well, whether you're hoping it could or hoping it couldn't, you can probably sort of guess what the answer is ― no, Congress can't overturn the results of the presidential election. Beyond simply being wildly inflammatory, that would be a destructive subversion of our system of elected government, and it's rightly not a provision that the Congress has at its fingertips. In short, the candidate who claims 270 or more electoral votes is headed for the White House, regardless of whatever the desires of a partisan-controlled House and Senate might be.

Another way to say it: Trump is going to be the next president, barring any unprecedented and totally unforeseeable circumstance, and that's not something that's going to come from the Congress.


To be clear, there is one way for Congress to play some kind of role in the outcome of the race, but it only would be triggered in the event of an electoral college tie, or in a scenario in which a third-party candidate snapped up a few electoral votes, thus keeping both major-party nominees under the 270 threshold. Under those circumstances, it falls to the House of Representatives to pick the next president from the top-three candidates in the electoral vote tally, with each state delegation getting just one vote, and a majority securing the win.

Under these circumstances, given that the House of Representatives is controlled by the Republicans, the presidency would've almost certainly gone to Trump anyway. The vice president, on the other hand, would've been picked by the U.S. Senate.

However, that's not the circumstance the country is in right now, because that would be about as outrage-inducing and destabilizing as any outcome possible ― it hasn't actually happened since 1876, well before the living memory of a single American, meaning the confusion and impact of such an outcome would be dire. However, Trump won this thing outright, which means he will be inaugurated on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.