Veto Rhetoric

Since 2004 with the help of research assistance (several of whom have since become collaborators) I have been collecting and coding legislative provisions of bills presidents threatened to veto in a Statement of Administration Policy (SAPs). This has involved coding each version of a bill as it wends its way through Congress. SAPs represent a special type of threat. “Make my day” threats do not appear in SAPs. Instead, all SAP threats propose alternative provisions or legislative language that would allow the president to sign the bill into law. SAP threats represent a counter offer to a legislative proposal at some stage of consideration in Congress. They are formal and public, available to fellow Washingtonians and interested constituencies.

These text files of SAPs containing explicit veto threats are
archived at the following sources:

Kernell, Samuel. 2005.
Presidential Veto Threats in Statements of Administration Policy: 1985-2004. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
Dataverse (through 2004)

For more information about SAPs and the story of their serendipitous discovery, read
Introduction to SAPs (from Kernell, 2005).


I am presently writing a book, Veto Rhetoric, that will examine veto threat bargaining from Reagan through Obama. The research thus far is reported in two papers/articles:  Hassell and Kernell’s “Veto Rhetoric and Legislative Riders” (forthcoming AJPS) Guenther and Kernell’s “Veto Threat Bargaining With a Bicameral Congress.”