Power of the Presidency to Legislate

The White House

The Constitution provides two powers to the Presidency in the legislative arena. According to Article I, Section 7, "every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approves it he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections." Thus, the President has the power to veto a bill before it becomes law. The second legislative power given to the President is described in Article II, Section 3: “ He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Thus, the President has some authority over setting the legislative agenda.


The President is responsible for setting the legislative agenda. He traditionally gives an annual State of the Union Address to the American people in January. Furthermore, since 1946, the President has also presented his budget request to Congress in January. Thus, the President has the ability to set the legislative agenda. Whether his agenda will be passed is dependent both on his party's control of Congress and the President's legislative skills. The President can also use his power to influence public opinion and thus get his agenda passed. In the 1960s, President Johnson addressed the nation to influence the Congress to pass civil rights legislation.