The President of the United States may veto, i.e. return a bill passed by the Congress within 10 days (excluding Sundays) after it was presented to him. The term of the Congress begins and ends on January 3rd and lasts 2 years. For example, the term of the current 117th Congress began on January 3, 2021 and will end on January 3, 2023.

If the Congress passed a bill (e.g. on December 30, 2022) and the President vetoed the bill after the end of the Congress' term (e.g. on January 4, 2023), would that effectively kill the bill, making the veto absolute and impossible to override (like the pocket veto)? Or could the new Congress still attempt to override the veto, even if the bill was passed by the previous Congress?

Would there be any difference if the President vetoed the bill before the end of the Congress' term, but the Congress did not manage to meet and vote on veto override before the end of its term?

1 Answer 1


The veto aspect of the scenario is a red herring. All bills not passed into law by the end of a Congress die (subject to a small 10-day window for approval by a President).

This is a frequently asked question at the Library of Congress:

If a bill from any Congress does not become law during the Congress in which it is introduced, it is considered “dead.” For a “dead” bill to be enacted in a new Congress, it would have to be reintroduced with a new number and begin anew its journey through the legislative process.

This is because when Americans elect a Congress, "[t]hey are electing a particular Congress, which lasts two years. So through 2013 and 2014, the 113th U.S. Congress has been making laws. For 2015 and 2016, the 114th U.S. Congress will be in office. ... When one Congress expires, all the pending legislation goes with it" (The Congressional Institute).

"The spirit of the Constitution evidently requires the performance of every act necessary to the enactment and approval of laws to be perfect before the adjournment of Congress" (H. R. Report No. 108, 38th Cong., 1st Sess., June 11, 1864, as quoted in Edwards, below).

There is only one exception, discussed in Edwards v. United States, 286 U.S. 482 (1932). It was held that even if a Congress has adjourned at the end of that Congress's term, the President still has the full ten days to approve a bill presented from that former Congress.


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