The Bills Obama Vetoed Show What He Refused To Stand For As POTUS

by Caroline Burke
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Every president eventually runs into roadblocks and disagreements with Congress. And though the current POTUS has recently run into a pretty large roadblock with the Senate, the bills that Obama vetoed show that this act really isn't unique to Trump at all. In fact, it might be one of the greatest things that the two presidents have in common: their shared efforts to get the House and the Senate to vote in favor of their policies during their respective eras, though the policies in question couldn't have been more different.

On Thursday, Trump tweeted that he was planning to veto the Senate's decision to block his national emergency declaration. He wrote:

I look forward to VETOING the just passed Democrat inspired Resolution which would OPEN BORDERS while increasing Crime, Drugs, and Trafficking in our Country. I thank all of the Strong Republicans who voted to support Border Security and our desperately needed WALL!

Though Obama never announced his vetoes in that fashion, he certainly experienced his fair share of frustrations with Congress. In fact, per Ballotpedia, Obama exercised his veto power 12 times during his two presidential terms. This certainly has to do with the fact that the House was majority-Republican for most of Obama's years as president. Now, Trump is in a similar boat, with a Democrat-controlled House. Not to mention, some Republican senators voted against his national emergency.

Here are all of the times Obama used his veto power during his eight years as president:

A 2009 Stop-Gap Pentagon Spending Measure

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Obama's first veto was relatively quiet, per The New York Times. In December 2009, he vetoed a stop-gap spending measure for the Pentagon, which became almost immediately unnecessary because he ended up being able to sign the spending bill for the Pentagon in January 2010 within the required time.

A 2010 Notarization Act

In October 2010, Obama vetoed the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act, which sought to "remove impediments to interstate commerce," per a statement by the White House. Within that statement, the reasoning for the veto was that Obama believed further conversation needed to be had.

The statement read in part, "While we share this goal, we believe it is necessary to have further deliberations about the intended and unintended impact of this bill on consumer protections, including those for mortgages, before this bill can be finalized."

The 2015 Keystone Pipeline Approval Act

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In February 2015, Obama vetoed the Keystone Pipeline Approval Act, which aimed to authorize the construction of a controversial oil pipeline through South Dakota.

In a message to the Senate, Obama wrote (via The Washington Post), "Because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest -- including our security, safety, and environment -- it has earned my veto."

A 2015 Congressional Resolution To Overturn New Unionization

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In March 2015, Obama vetoed a resolution that aimed to overturn new unionization rules at the time, per USA Today. In a statement, as relayed by the publication, Obama said, "[The rules are] common-sense, modest changes to streamline the voting process for folks who wanted to join a union." If workers want to join a union, "they should be able to do so, and we shouldn't be making it impossible for that to happen," he added.

A 2015 National Defense Authorization Act

In October 2015, Obama vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act. He explained the reasoning in remarks at the White House, which outlined three main factors for the veto:

Number one, it keeps in place the sequester that is inadequate for us to properly fund our military in a stable, sustained way and allows all of our armed forces to plan properly ... Number two, unfortunately it prevents a wide range of reforms that are necessary for us to get our military modernized and able to deal with the many threats that are presenting themselves in the 21st century... [and] the third thing is that this legislation specifically impeded our ability to close Guantanamo in a way that I have repeatedly argued is counterproductive to our efforts to defeat terrorism around the world.

A 2015 Resolution Nullifying The Clean Power Plan

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In December 2015, Obama vetoed a joint resolution that would have nullified the Clean Power Plan. In a statement via the White House, Obama wrote:

The Clean Power Plan is essential in addressing the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in our country. It is past time to act to mitigate climate impacts on American communities. Because the resolution would overturn the Clean Power Plan, which is critical to protecting against climate change and ensuring the health and well-being of our Nation, I cannot support it.

A 2015 Resolution To Nullify New Carbon Pollution Standards

In December 2015, Obama vetoed a measure that aimed to nullify a new rule by the EPA regarding carbon pollution standards. In his White House statement on the veto, Obama referenced the new rule, which aimed to clarify "standards of performance for greenhouse gas emissions from new, modified, and reconstructed" sources.

Obama wrote:

By blocking these standards from taking effect, S.J. Res. 23 would delay our transition to cleaner electricity generating technologies by enabling continued build-out of outdated, high-polluting infrastructure. Because it would overturn carbon pollution standards that are critical to protecting against climate change and ensuring the health and well-being of our Nation, I cannot support the resolution.

A 2016 Bill To Overturn The Affordable Care Act

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In January 2016, Obama vetoed a bill that aimed to overturn the Affordable Care Act and strip all federal funds from Planned Parenthood. In a veto message, per The New York Times, Obama said, “Because of the harm this bill would cause to the health and financial security of millions of Americans, it has earned my veto.”

A 2016 Resolution To Partially Nullify The Clean Water Act

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In January 2016, Obama vetoed a resolution that would have nullified a law issued by the EPA and the Army that aimed to clarify boundaries around the Clean Water Act.

In a statement released from the White House, Obama said:

The rule... is critical to our efforts to protect the Nation's waters and keep them clean; is responsive to calls for rulemaking from the Congress, industry, and community stakeholders; and is consistent with decisions of the United States Supreme Court ... Because this resolution seeks to block the progress represented by this rule and deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty and clarity needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water, I cannot support it.

A 2016 Attempt To Roll Back A Financial Adviser Rule

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In June 2016, Obama vetoed an attempt to roll back a new protection which aimed to legally require financial advisers to act in the best interest of retirement savors, per The Hill. In a statement released by the White House, Obama said:

It is essential that these critical protections go into effect. Because this resolution seeks to block the progress represented by this rule and deny retirement savers investment advice in their best interest, I cannot support it.

2016 Attempted Cuts To Presidential Pensions

In July 2016, Obama vetoed an attempt to cap the office expenses of former presidents at $200,000 a year. For those who didn't know that former presidents basically get allowances: the General Services Administrations is required to finance "suitable office space" to former presidents, as well as retirement and benefits, per a report by the Congressional Research Service.

In a statement released by the White House, Obama said:

I agree with H.R. 1777's goal of reforming the pensions and allowances provided to former Presidents so as to reduce unnecessary costs to taxpayers. But if implemented as drafted, the bill would have unintended consequences. It would impose onerous and unreasonable burdens on the offices of former Presidents, including by requiring the General Services Administration to immediately terminate salaries and benefits of office employees and to remove furnishings and equipment from offices.

The 2016 Justice Against Sponsors Of Terrorism Act

In 2016, Obama's last veto was for the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which would've allowed families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts. In a statement released by the White House, which was by far his longest "veto letter," Obama said:

I have continued and expanded upon these efforts, both to help victims of terrorism gain justice for the loss and suffering of their loved ones and to protect the United States from future attacks. The JASTA, however, does not contribute to these goals, does not enhance the safety of Americans from terrorist attacks, and undermines core U.S. interests.

However, Congress eventually successfully voted to override Obama's last veto, per Politico.

If Trump does enact vetoing power for this recent vote to block the national emergency, it will be his first veto for his presidency. It will also mark the addition of the latest bullet point to the very short list of ways in which Obama and Trump's presidencies were similar.