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Published August 1988 | public
Journal Article

Presidential Influence on Congressional Appropriations Decisions


We investigate the extent to which possession of the veto allows the president to influence congressional decisions regarding regular annual appropriations legislation. The most important implication of our analysis is that the influence the veto conveys is asymmetrical: it allows the president to restrain Congress when he prefers to appropriate less to an agency than Congress does; it does not provide him an effective means of extracting higher appropriations from Congress when he prefers to spend more than it does. The asymmetry derives from constitutional limitations o the veto, in combination with the pretense of a de facto reversionary expenditure level contained in the appropriations process (Fenno, 1966). We find strong support for this proposition in a regression of presidential requests upon congressional appropriations decisions.

Additional Information

Manuscript submitted 19 September 1986. Final manuscript received 26 May 1987. We thank Roger Noll, John Padgett, John Ferejohn, Thomas Schwartz, John Ledyard, Keith Krehbiel, Thomas Gilligan, and Barry Weingast for comments and criticisms. Jeff Dubin provided valuable econometric advice. David Lowery and Samuel Bookheimer provided us with their budgetary data, which we used to check the accuracy of a large subset of our data. We also thank Eric Claus, David Fallek, Marla Davison, and Bill Lowry for research assistance. This material is based upon work supported by the Graduate School of Business, Washington University, and by the National Science Foundation under grant SES-8421161.

Additional details

August 19, 2023
October 17, 2023