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Congress and the President

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Essay title: Congress and the President

Congress and the President

The framers of the U.S. Constitution created a presidency that must win cooperation from Congress to get the work of government done. Lawmaking and policy-making powers are divided, and the politics of shared power has often been stormy. In general, however, Congress and presidents somehow find ways to collaborate and solve problems.

The relationship between a president and Congress is the most important one in the American political system, and while presidents spend great energy courting the media and appealing to the public, they do so in large part to gain support in Congress. A president may not like it, but sustained cooperation from majorities in Congress is a necessity.

Several factors can cause conflict in our system of separated institutions sharing power. Among them are constitutional ambiguities, different constituencies, varying terms of office, divided party control of the different branches, and fluctuating support of the president or Congress.

The media may exaggerate presidential tensions or disputes with Congress, yet clashes between the branches over presidential nominations, vetoes, budget proposals, military actions, and the exercise of executive privilege and executive orders are inevitable. These and other political realities are part of the continuing struggle that shapes presidential-congressional relations.

Presidential powers have increased over the past 60 years in good part because of grants of power by Congress to the presidency. Many of these powers have come in military and foreign policy areas and are due to the increased role of the United States in global affairs.

The framers created a presidency of limited powers, yet the role and leadership responsibilities of presidents increased as a result of national security and economic emergencies throughout the past several generations and because of the nation's world leadership responsibilities in the era. Congress usually tries to assert itself and serve as a reasonable and responsible check on the exercise of presidential power. It is sometimes effective and sometimes less effective in this role; yet no president can ever take congressional support for granted, and presidents can always expect at least suspicion of not hostile actions from the opposition party in Congress.

'The president's policy agenda is shaped by political and personal resources. Presidents tend to lose influence over the course of office as their public approval and party support in Congress fall. At the same time, they also become more effective at their job as they learn more about one of the most difficult positions in the world.

Chapter 14 The Federal Bureaucracy: The Real Power?

The chief characteristics of bureaucracy are continuity, predictability, impartiality, standard operating procedures, and "red tape." Our bureaucratic agencies reflect the ways in which our political system attempts to identify our most important national goals and how policies are implemented.

Most of the 2.7 million civilian employees of the federal government serve under a merit system that protects their independence of politics. They work in one of the cabinet departments or else in any of innumerable government corporations, independent agencies, and independent regulatory boards or commissions.

The federal government's Office of Personnel Management sets policy for recruiting and evaluating federal workers. Various restrictions on federal workers prevent them from running for political office or engaging in political fund-raising activities. The federal bureaucracy generally prizes continuity, stability, and following the rules more than risk taking or innovation.

The bureaucracy generally uses regulations or spending to implement the laws. The rule-making process is governed by the Administration Procedure Act, while the spending process is governed by the federal budget. Most of the federal budget is uncontrollable, whether because of indexing to inflation or because Congress and the president are unwilling to cut highly popular programs such as Social Security.

The American bureaucracy has at least two immediate bosses: Congress and the president. It must pay considerable attention as well to the courts and their rulings and to well-organized interest groups and public opinion. In many ways, the bureaucracy is a semi-independent force--a fourth branch of government--in American

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