Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Presidency And Congress

by Christopher Wager (writer), Salem,,, May 12, 2009


“The Powers That Be”

The Presidency of The United States of America encompasses one of the broadest abstract concepts of a division of power, responsibility, and separation of the individual from the Office of the President.

In other words, the presidency is a sought after, admired, impossible job of the government. The man who would be president must be all things to all people, not just of the United States but of the world. There is no clear line between responsibility and accountability of the office. In times of good fortune, the president has a high approval rating from his people. In times of trouble, he is also held responsible if he had anything to do with it or not.

The president must be able to divide his attention between many sides of many issues, understand the complexity of the workings of the federal government, and address the nation with a confidence and compassion expected of the leader of the free world. All with little or no sleep.

Among some of the duties and responsibilities of the presidency which are too many and complex to cover in a thousand word essay. I will attempt to touch on some of the most important and fundamental.

Such duties and powers include; national security powers where the president fills the roll of Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Which means the president can send troops in force anywhere in the world in various capacities with declaring war. (Patterson)  An official declaration of war cannot be declared by the president, but must be met with the approval of Congress, which we will touch on later in this paper. (Gpo)

Other powers possessed by the president is the making of treaties with other nations, again the senate must have the final word over the treaty. The president can also nominate ambassadors to foreign counties, and again with the majority approval of the Senate.

Which with all the needed approval by Congress, demonstrates the power of the check and balance system of the government. Which the framers concluded would be needed to maintain a balance of power among the different branches of government. Although this system sometimes gets in the way of expedient government and adds the bureaucratic paperwork that goes along with it, it is a “necessary evil”.

As the Congress is bestowed with powers to make laws it is the executive’s job to see the laws are faithfully executed (Article II, Section 3 of the US Constitution). The president has the power to appoint heads of each of the executive branch departments as chiefs of the government, along with Supreme Court justices of course with the agreement of the majority of Congress. Among the president’s judicial powers are that he can grant reprieves and pardons for federal crimes.

As Congress holds great power over the decisions of the president, the president himself holds great power over the decisions of Congress with his power to veto. Which is the power to say no to a piece of legislation put in front of him for approval before it can be made law. The veto comes in many forms such as the “pocket veto” and “put it in a drawer veto”.

Of course, the Congress can override a presidential veto, but it is not easy and almost never happens. The president being the head of the executive branch of the government lends him many freedoms to express the ideas he feels would make good policies for the country. Where Congress, House and Senate leaders, must be at the mercy of their party majority to meet with any success, not to mention trying to get a bill out of committee.

However, a president that must face down a hostile congress, which has direct control over the money he spends on paperclips, has a tough job ahead of him. This would be why it is so important that the president’s party hold on to every seat they can. Even then, not all the president’s ideas will be met with great support from his own party.

As we turn, our attention to the powers and duties of the congress besides the ones mentioned above the congressman and women have said to be better at narrow decision than making the broad ones. A member of either house has a tough job now more than ever before faced with an increase of work. A growing population and split loyalties between the party, the people back home they swear to serve, and the pressures from lobbyists of big business. The congressman of today must answer to all without showing any favoritism to any. So how do our elected officials survive?

As a mix of people with different backgrounds and different ideas and loyalties come together to form the congress, there is often times partisan arguing and bickering, and accusatory statements that are asking the same questions that you and I are? What many benefit one minority group may not be the greatest for another.

With that being said how does congress ever get anything done? Through, and some use this word loosely bi-partisan cooperation. Which means they must give and take to get some of what they want even if it means a logroll vote. The art of compromise is a skill that is needed if anyone is to survive the freshman year in congress. (Gpo)

            To be clear the U.S. Congress is made up of two parts, the House of Representatives and the Senate. Congress’s primary duty is to write, debate, and pass bills, which are then passed on to the President for approval or veto. Other powers of Congress include making laws; controlling trade between states and between the United States and other countries, making laws about taxes and borrowing money, most importantly congress approves the making of money. (Gpo)

Each Congress lasts for two years where as the president is elected for four years. When the two years are over, new members of Congress are elected or current members are re-elected. We are currently in the 110th Congress. Congress meets once every year and usually lasts from January 3rd to July 31st, but in special cases, it can last longer. (Gpo)

The states are represented in the House and the Senate differently. When the framers drafted the Constitution, there were debates over how states would be represented. States with larger populations wanted more representation than states with smaller populations. Meanwhile, states with smaller populations favored equal representation. A compromise was made. Representation in the Senate would be equal, while representation in the House would be based on population. (Tastey)

 Congress is made up of 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 members of the Senate. Congress also possesses the power to remove federal officials from office by impeachment. The biggest being the president. Another important duty of the Congress is to administer the District of Colombia (D.C), which is the home of the federal government, which is not a state, and which has drew attention lately over the district’s voting rights. (Tastey)

Some duties and powers of congress cannot be performed jointly, that is (Tastey), only the House of Representatives may initiate bills concerning taxes, and tolls, and only the Senate may confirm presidential appointments to federal offices try impeachments or confirm treaties with other nations. (Tastey)

The complexities of our government are not fully understood by the masses, although most of all the average citizens have a working knowledge of what the president and congress do. They might not understand the everyday difficulties of each of the perspective jobs. Many Americans like being arm chair critics of the government but they themselves would not care to muster the courage to face a congressional hearing or have to make the decision that would put thousands of young men and women in harms way in order to preserve democracy in the world. The fact that America in spite of itself has maintained the same form of government and Constitution for over two hundred years is a testament to the spirit, courage, and united cause. 

Works Cited

Gpo. Ben's guide to government. Jan 2007 .

Patterson, Thomas E. The American Democracy. New York : Mcgraw - Hill, 1990. 39-49.

Tastey, Tony. Everthing2. Tues Oct 2001. Jan 2007 .

About the Writer

Christopher Wager is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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