Congressional-Presidential interaction

There are several different ways that regimes are set up in countries all over the world. The parliamentary system, the presidential system, and the semi-presidential system are the most common among democratic societies. Many people assume that the parliamentary and presidential systems are pretty much the same, but they have important differences. The difference I would like to highlight is the relationship between the executive and the legislature. In a parliamentary system the executive and legislator are fused, meaning the prime minister comes from the parliament. In a presidential system, the executive and legislature are separate, which means the president is elected apart from congress and has its own powers independent of the legislative branch. These differences effect how the government is run, how policy is derived and passed, and how much power each part of government has.

“It is one thing to be subordinate to the laws, and another [for the Executive] to be dependent on the legislative body. The first comports with, the last violates, the fundamental principles of good government; and, whatever may be the forms of the Constitution, unites all power in the same hands.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 71

Since there is this separation of power between congress and the president in the United States, there has to be laws and guidelines for the power granted to each branch and the relationship that they have with each other. We can look at the Constitution for some of the ways it shapes the congressional-presidential interaction. Article One and Article Two describe how each branch is to be set up and how it should function, along with the powers specifically granted to it. However, not everything is outlined in the Constitution, so when one branch tries to create a power for itself the third branch, the judiciary, must step in to check the constitutionality of that power.

Sometimes we see congress create power for itself, like the legislative veto that is written into  delegated powers to the president. This clause allows for congress to veto laws that come from the executive, when it is using a delegated power. But sometimes congress tries to create power for the executive, for example, the line item veto. This power would allow a president to strike out a line of a law and still pass it. Both of these laws were brought in front of the Supreme Court and ruled unconstitutional because the constitution has a clear veto process that must be followed.

We can see in just these two small examples how the relationship between the president and congress is important in shaping the powers each of them have. And the important rule that the Judicial Branch plays in maintaining a balance of power and legitimacy in the government. Sometimes they work cooperatively, while other times they are in strong opposition but no matter what they have to work together to run the country.

The reading I looked at for this post was chapter nine, The Senate and the Executive from the book Esteemed Colleagues: Civility and Deliberation in the U.S Senate by Roger Davidson and Colton Campbell.


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