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Flashcards in 13.2c Oversight Deck (8)
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1

Congress vs the presidency

If the party controlling the executive branch is different from the party controlling either house of Congress, it can be difficult to get the president’s legislative ideas through Congress.

Barack Obama faced a Republican House for six out of eight years of his presidency, and a Republican Senate for two years.

Congress has the power to override presidential vetoes, which are more likely if the opposition party to the President controls Congress.

2

Public opinion

The president has to seek approval in Congress for certain things, and if these are unpopular with constituents they may impact votes on them.

Controversial policies have to be carefully compromised on between the President and Congress.

3

Presidential actions

If a president commits “high crimes and misdemeanours”, Congress can stop supporting their actions and the House can move to impeachment.

This happened in 1998 to President Bill Clinton, when the House voted to impeach him after accusing him of perjury (lying under oath) and obstruction of justice.

4

War & Peace

During peacetime, Congress typically has power over the President.

During wartime, the President, as the Head of State and Commander in Chief has special powers.

Congress is supposed to be able to check the power of the president in wartime, but in recent years presidents have gone ahead with military operations without getting permission from Congress.

5

Checks on the executive

The House has the power to impeach a president with a two-thirds majority.

The Senate has the power to try impeachments.

The Senate has the power to confirm the president’s nominees for the executive branch.

Congress has the power to override a presidential veto.

The Senate has the power to approve treaties.

6

Checks on the Judiciary

The Senate has the power to confirm the president’s judicial nominees.

The House has the power to impeach a member of the judiciary with a two-thirds majority.

The Senate has the power to try impeachments.

Congress has the power to change the size of the Supreme Court, which has been done seven times since 1801.

7

Checks between different Houses

Both Houses must pass all bills.

The House must initiate all bills for raising revenue.

8

Effectiveness of the institution

Without cooperation between parties, Congress frequently becomes gridlocked.

The 113th Congress (2013-2015) was divided, and so only 296 bills were passed.

Increased partisanship makes cooperation unlikely and so legislation either fails or is not of a high quality.

If judicial activism on the Supreme Court takes place, the Court may strike down Congressional decisions.

Increased use of executive orders limits the effectiveness of checks and balances on the executive.