'Congress has become the least powerful branch of government' Discuss
Article 1 of the Constitution - the longest article- evidence that Congress was seen as the most important and powerful branch but is it still?
Evidence that Congress does not retain its political power includes:
• ability of the president to set the domestic agenda and circumvent Congress through-
executive orders,-e.g Obama's statement that he would use his 'pen'-
Trump Mexico City Rule
signing statements e.g McCain Amendment/release of Bowe Bergdahl’
Executive Agreements- Iran deal
and recess appointments.- Obama made over 40- but had this power limited by NLRB v Noel Canning
• ability of the president to set the tone and direction of foreign policy, and to deploy armed forces without congressional approval- Obama drones/Bin Laden/ after 9/11
• ability of the Supreme Court to strike down congressional legislation.-Citizens United v FEC stuck down Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.
• complicated legislative process means far more laws are rejected than passed. Only 4%.
• parochialism makes Congress often incapable of acting in a coordinated way- failure to deal with Fiscal Cliff/2012 Grid lock and government shut down
• Congress has the lowest public approval ratings of the three branches of government- currently 12% - seen as the 'Broken branch' Ornstein and Mann
Evidence that Congress remains a powerful body includes:
• continued dependence of the president on Congress for all legislation and money-'Power of the Purse'- used to block closure of Guantanamo
• continued dependence of the president on Congress for all appointment confirmation (Merrick Garland) and treaty ratification- block on Paris Accords, Comprehensive Test Ban,
• continued ability of Congress to override presidential vetoes
“In the history of the United States, 168 presidential nominees have been filibustered, 82 blocked under President Obama, 86 blocked under all the other presidents" -Harry Reid