Legislators turned against their Republican governor and made Nebraska the first conservative state to ban the death penalty in more than 40 years. Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is a supporter of capital punishment, signed the veto on Tuesday, but legislators from both major parties overrode the repeal of the death penalty the day after. Ricketts had heavily campaigned against the change with television ads and cited examples of some particularly gruesome crimes. But on Wednesday, the State Legislature voted 30-19 to end capital punishment, and Nebraska now joins 18 other states that do not use capital punishment, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Overriding a veto is notoriously difficult. In Nebraska, 30 senators must vote to strike the veto for it to pass, according to the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature, which makes Wednesday's death penalty vote extremely close. To override a presidential veto, two-thirds of each Chamber must vote for it. Congress has overridden only 10 percent of all presidential vetoes, according to the U.S. Senate.
However, senators and representatives occasionally do cross party lines to take down an executive. Here are the eight other extremely controversial fights between the legislative and executive branches over the defeat of a veto. After all, our country's three-branch system is a pretty powerful thing.
Bush's Medicare Veto
Just as it is today, health care was a big issue in 2008. President George W. Bush vetoed legislation that protected doctors from a 10.6 percent cut in their reimbursement rates for treating Medicare patients, but Congress overrode it. According to CBS, lawmakers were under pressure from doctors and the elderly to protect reimbursement rates. Many of the 600,000 physicians who treated Medicare patients said they would no longer take new elderly patients if the legislation did not go through.
Reagan's Apartheid Veto
In 1986, Congress wanted to impose economic sanctions against the Republic of South Africa because of its use of apartheid. President Ronald Reagan vetoed the bill, wanting to use an executive order to impose his own restrictions, but many legislators felt his plan wasn't aggressive enough and voted against his veto. The legislation was later repealed when Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa. At the time, Congress had not overridden a foreign policy presidential veto since the War Powers Resolution in 1973.
Clinton’s Fraud Bill
President Bill Clinton attempted to knock out a bill that would restrict shareholders’ ability to sue for securities fraud. The vote did not look good for Clinton, and it was a particularly embarrassing defeat for him since the Senate opposition was led by fellow Democrat Sen. Christopher Dodd, a longtime advocate for changing securities law, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Truman's Labor Management Relations Veto
The Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, also known as the Taft-Hartley Act, restricted the power of trade unions. President Harry Truman said it was an intrusion of free speech, but Congress beat his veto. Nearly seven decades later, the act's influence in U.S. labor relations is still present today.
Bush's Water Projects Veto
President George W. Bush lost his first veto when Congress pushed through water-related legislation that would control flooding, improve navigation on waterways, and restore the environment. According to Reuters, Bush said the $23 billion bill was fiscally irresponsible.
Tyler’s Military Veto
The first presidential veto override in U.S. history was in 1845 when President John Tyler wanted to eliminate a bill that prevented him from using federal funds to build ships without congressional approval. Tyler used the veto 10 times in his presidency, more than any other president besides Andrew Jackson.
Bush’s Cable Veto
President George H.W. Bush attempted to squash the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, but Congress made sure viewers could always receive local broadcast stations, even on the most basic cable plans, according to The New York Times. Cable prices had skyrocketed, so Congress wanted to regulate the market. Since Bush's veto attempt, there have been two Supreme Court cases that have challenged the constitutionality of this act.
Clinton’s Abortion Veto
In an extremely close and controversial vote, Congress decided to override Clinton’s 1996 veto of a ban on a type of late-term abortion called “intact dilation and extraction,” according to The New York Times. The controversial procedure, used after 20 weeks of gestation, involved partially extracting the fetus from the uterus by suctioning fluid out of its skull. The veto was overridden by only four votes, sparking huge outrage.
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