U.S. History/pocket vetos


My American Studies class and I have been discussing how a bill becomes a law, vetoes and pocket vetoes. I have a question regarding pocket vetoes. Let's pretend that a bill reached President Obama but he pocket vetoed it. The bill never really died, but never got signed by him. Lets pretend that Obama's term is up and a new president, say President Bob, starts his term. What would happen to that bill that was pocked vetoed? Could President Bob look at it and sign it during  his term? Did the bill die when President Obama left office? Does the bill have to go back to the House and Senate because it didn't get signed after an (x) amount of time? I understand that not a lot of bills make it that far, and this is a little far fetched however, I am just extremely curious about what would happen.  
Thank you for your time,


A pocket veto can only occur when Congress is not in session -- otherwise an act passed by Congress can simply become law without the president's signature, if the president does not specifically veto it.  Congress is in session at the end of a president's term, so it is not possible for a pocket veto at the end of a presidential term.

The idea of a pocket veto is that the president didn't have time to veto a bill when a Congressional session ended, but could still keep it from becoming law.  Otherwise, Congress could pass controversial bills at the end of the term, then adjourn and not leave a president time to veto bills.

Thanks for your question.

Joshua Patty

U.S. History

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Joshua Patty


Abraham Lincoln; American Civil War; 19th Century American History; and American Religious History are all expert categories. Can also answer most questions about US Presidents; general American History; American government structure. Lifelong student of American history, especially Abraham Lincoln


Lifelong student of American history, with coursework in American history and government at the college and graduate level.

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