The United States of America is known as a land of equals and a land “of the free. ” From separation of powers to check and balances, the Founding Fathers displayed a desire for equilibrium, rather than for usurpation. Although the three branches of government display equality, the development of the legislative branch over time- i. e. the shift of delegation powers- has shown that Congress holds the most power making final decisions through impeachment, oversights, and accepting or denying presidential requests- i. e. treaties and the appointment of judges.
Within two centuries, Congress, considered as the “boss” of the executive and judiciary, has transformed into the nation’s instrumental powerhouse. Under Article I of the United States (U. S) constitution, Congress is responsible for “affirming and legitimating” the executive’s actions; therefore, the legislative branch holds the power to govern and is more powerful than the president. Originally referred as a congressional nation by Woodrow Wilson, Congress, until the nineteenth country, has held most of the power, as intended by the framers of the Constitution, due to a tyrannical experience with King George III.
Thus, during the early nineteenth century, president was a mere figure-head, because the presidency was seldom associated with “major national political and social forces,” which, in the early, 1800’s existed in small numbers. Furthermore, as the federal government flourished, Congress tightly controlled the president through economic policies and other “regulatory policies”, by providing power to the sovereign agencies, which would help enforce the rules- i. e. n 1887, Congress enacted the Interstate Commerce Act, which allowed the Congress to regulate railroad industry by preventing monopolies and adopted the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which also censored monopolies.
Therefore, Congress’ initial actions demonstrated the tight hold it had over the nation’s resources rather than delegating the resources to other parts of the government, as stated in Article II of the U. S. Constitution. Congress has the greatest power, due to the legislative branch’s ability to have the first and final say over propositions in the federal government.
According to Article II Section 4, Congress can impeach “a president, vice president, and other executive officials” (pg 241) on account of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes” and bring the individual to court to determine whether he or she is guilty or not. Furthermore, an impeachment is analogous to a criminal indictment, and the House of the Representatives is the “grand jury,” which demonstrates that the judiciary branch cannot be involved in the impeachment process, but rather, the person who is accused of the charges and Congress is present during the process.
The House of the Representatives votes on whether or not an executive officer is worthy of impeachment, and the House, through majority rule, determines whether or not a trial will occur in the Senate. The Senate, through a two-thirds majority rule, decides on a conviction and a forcible removal of the individual from office. Subsequently, the impeachment process substantiates Congress’ power over the executive branch by demonstrating the power of the final word on any executive officer, especially the president.
For example, in 1974, the House of Representatives embarked on impeachment of President Richard Nixon, due to the Watergate Scandal; however, fearing the publicity, Richard Nixon resigned from office, before the impeachment was fully underway. Therefore, through possible impeachment, Nixon’s actions established Congress’ increased power over a president’s actions and decisions. Congress’ ability to have the final word in a particular matter of the other two branches’ decisions demonstrates Congress’ control over the federal government.
Although bureaucracies, or institutions that “deliver government goods efficiently” (pg. 309), are responsible for implementing a legislation passed by Congress, Congress maintains control through oversights- when committees and subcommittees follow bureaucratic implementations of the piece of legislation passed. Specific committees and subcommittees have specific “oversight powers” over specific bureaucratic agencies in the executive branch, and there are committees are in the House and in the Senate that can oversee other agencies that are not in their jurisdiction.
Therefore, the implementation of oversight is greatly evident through public hearings, during which agencies in the executive branch and additional individuals present and protect their data. A committee and subcommittee hearing in 2012 regarding the U. S. consulate in Benghazi, involved the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of State, both of which were interrogated for deaths of several individuals, including the U. S. Ambassador and four Americans, and for “the destruction of the facility” due to their inability to maintain security.
Thus, each agency holds a responsibility to the Congress to display all resources in order to maintain its life; accordingly, Congress’ immense power is even more distinguishable by the ability to apply “the power of the purse” (pg. 327)- agencies are held under a large microscope and are examined in great detail.
The agencies, in turn, are meticulous in their actions, because they are aware that Congress, in seeing a mistake, can decrease the agency’s funding, and the power of agencies is in the hands of their budget, which the Congress provides. Therefore, Congress, acting as the supreme judge on the actions of bureaucratic agencies, validates its ability to hold individuals accountable for their responsibilities. Acting as the parent of a child, Congress can either permit or forbid his child, the president from making new friends.
Under Article II , Section 2, the president, although having power to make treaties and appoint Supreme Court Justices, must receive consent from Congress to form a treaty with another country, before the treaty is declared, the full consent requires a two-thirds majority vote “of [the] senators present” during the time of the treaty. However, the president utilizes the executive agreement, by forming treaties between the U. S. and another country with the Senate’s approval.
Occasionally, presidents make agreements in secrets, without Congress’ awareness, which had spurred America’s involvement in the Vietnam War during the 1950’s and 1960s when Eisenhower made secret arrangements with South Vietnam. Thus, Congress enacted the Case Act of 1972, which required the president to inform Congress of the “foreign policy” within sixty days of the event for Congress to agree or to break the agreement. In the case of opposition, Congress can cancel the union and can also stop dispersing the funds necessary for the president to maintain the social and military components of the foreign policy.
As a result, Congress exhibits supremacy over the government by having the capability of eradicating any involvement that it does not see as healthy for the country. Furthermore, the Senate’s ability to censor or “.. approve…presidential requests” (pg. 240) also includes the ability to devise certain circumstances that the president must follow. Furthermore, the Senate’s most popular rejection is displayed through a “senatorial ‘hold’,” which puts an indefinite hold on a president’s request.
Although thought as a filibuster- the attempt of members of the Senate to halt a piece of legislature that they do not favor by endlessly speaking and “holding the floor” so that the majority stops pursuing the action- the hold is a means of achieving another endeavor that the president does not agree with. For example, In January 2001, Democratic members of the Senate held Bush’s Republican “judicial nominees” (pg. 240). Hence, the actions bolster the legislative branch’s ability to achieve what it desires vis-a-vis threats and final decisions.