Political Jargon Buster: Pocket Veto

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pocket veto (noun): a bill vetoed by inaction rather than action

Pocket veto! Cute!!! Sounds like a sweet little miniature veto (*manufactured by Hasbro — tiny accessories sold separately). The perfect stocking stuffer! Collect all twelve! Free in your Happy Meal while supplies last!

And yet — names can be deceiving. The “pocket veto” is neither a toy nor a bite-sized political prop. It is instead a nice little political slight-of-hand that could still theoretically be stocked on the “magic trick” shelf at your local Toys”R”Us . You see, a traditional veto requires that the President actively puts the kibosh on a bill during those next 10 days that Congress is in session. The pocket veto, however, doesn’t require the POTUS to do jack. That’s because if a bill is introduced while Congress is not in session, that 10-day window lets the bill quietly fizzle. By doing a whole lot of nothing, a President can effectively just make it disappear. Into an imaginary pocket. Poof! A pocket veto.