Free Custom «What is Wrong, if Anything, with Relations between U.S. Congress and the U.S. Presidency?» Essay Sample

Free Custom «What is Wrong, if Anything, with Relations between U.S. Congress and the U.S. Presidency?» Essay Sample


By the end of the 20th century the phenomenon of ‘divided government’ was not regarded as a temporary phenomenon anymore and thus, it provoked a great interest to the problem of time balance of the executive and legislative branches of government efficiency given and adjusted by the Constitution (Greenberg & Page, 2015). The fact is that in the periods of ‘divided government’, the conflictual relationship of the President and Congress becomes the dominant feature of the US political process. The relations between U.S. Congress and the U.S. Presidency maintain their conflicting atmosphere but they have constant dynamics to find the optimal combination of stability and development, which is the essence of the effectiveness of the American political system. It is necessary to analyze the main features of the U.S. government, powers separation, how U.S. Congress and the U.S. President divide powers and collaborate (Calabresi & Yoo, 2008).

The Main Features of the U.S. State System

The United States is a presidential republic, and the main features of the state system include combination of powers of the head of state and head of government in a top official - the President. The methods of electing the president and the formation of the government (the president appoints the heads of ministries) are non-parliamentary, and the President does not have the right to dismiss the highest legislative body, while Congress cannot take a vote of no confidence towards the government. Another feature is prohibiting members of the government to be members of Congress, and vice versa (Congress, President, and Parties, 2015).


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The illustrations that the basis for cooperation between all branches of power is the idea of mutual control and balance of powers, which does not allow one branch to dominate the other one are, for example, that Congress may reject the President's bill, and the President can veto it when it comes to the approval of the bill. In addition, many of the President's powers are realized only with the approval of the Senate (international treaties), and the Supreme Court has the right to invalidate the laws of Congress and executive acts.

Separation of Powers

One of the fundamental constitutionalist principles is the separation of powers in the American political doctrine. The principle of the separation of powers is a necessary way to ensure such political-philosophical and legal principles as limited governing, federalism, and the rule of law. In this regard, one of the key problems of American constitutionalism is the practical application of the principle of separation of powers in the US political system. First, the question arises as to how ‘strong’ this separation is, which, in turn, determines the degree of structural and functional authorities’ separation.

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In the USA, the simultaneous work of a politician in two branches of power is not allowed. In this sense, the division is truly strict and consistent, although in this case, it is unlikely to justify the importance attached to the doctrine as a whole. Therefore, the separation of powers is the functional separation of powers among the autonomous branches of government (Greenberg & Page, 2015).

The reference to the absence of the constitutional right of legislative initiative in the President does not confirm the thesis of his functional separation from the legislative process. The US Constitution provides the right to the President to propose any action as it may be deemed necessary and useful to Congress. The US practice shows that the Presidents’ administration actively uses this provision for the presentation of specific bills in Congress. In addition, without the approval of the President, no bill passed by Congress can become a law (Greenberg & Page, 2015). The cases of overcoming the presidential veto are rare. Thus, the president is an integral part of the legislative process. Therefore, there is hardly any reason to speak of "strict" functional separation of powers in the United States.

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Congress also is not a passive observer of the activities of the President on the implementation of laws. Congress can regulate some stages of President’s activities to decide on the approval of the officials who carry it out, to overcome a presidential veto by a qualified majority. The mentioned opportunities of the mutual influence of the executive and the legislature powers are determined by the constitutional principle of checks and balances, which should be considered apart from the constitutional principle of separation of powers.

The US presidents have always imagined the ideal relationship of the president and Congress not as ‘partitioning and separation’, but rather as close joint ventures. The principle of separation of powers would cause authorities competition and damaging public administration in general, resulting in periods of social and political crises, when the president and Congress acted as representatives of different groups of the ruling class.

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