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Assess the power and significance of congress.

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Introduction

Assess the power and significance of congress. Firstly it is important to look at the power and significance of congress as a legislative body. This includes the creation of law, and the scrutiny of the executive. Because the US federal system is ruled by 'separation of powers', it is important that the legislative - congress - acts as a good check and restraint on the executive - the president. The most significant power that congress has is to create and pass legislation. Most of the creation is down to congressional committees - specialist groups of congressman who revise and investigate laws into their own committee's interests, for example The House Science Committee. Some of the legislation can come from the president directly, however it is congress that filter's it, so in theory the president's proposed bill could never be heard in either house. Constitutional ammendments also work in this way, a president can suggest them, but only congress can initiate them. During the process of a bill becoming a law, congress plays a huge part. Both houses have the first reading, committee stage, the time tabling, the second and third reading before it heads to a conference committee. ...read more.

Middle

For example, the president is the one who negotiates treaties, who attends all of the peace talks, united nations summits and so forth. Though he does need to get a two-thirds majority to ratify any treaties, and a majority to declare war, the president has other powers in foreign policy. For example, a president is commander-in-chief. He is leader of all the armed forces. The only constitutional power congress has in this respect is to declare war, which hasn't been used since 1941. Other than that congress has no power over the use of troops. However, a president now asks congress to authorise his use of troops, though this is not constitutional, and therefore not necessary. The president's dominance in foreign policy leaves congress with very few powers in that area but the Senate's two thirds majority for the confirmation of treaties. However, in Domestic policy the president is a lot less important, and this is where congress comes in. The president and even EXOP do not have time nor the resources to make laws like the committee's of congress do. Instead EXOP merely advises the president on what bills to support, and what not to, if indeed he needs advice. ...read more.

Conclusion

A president needs a lot of support for his foreign treaty's for example, which he wont be able to muster even if he gets all of his party's support. The same with congress, if the president veto's legislation, then they would not have the unity if there was no swing to over power him. This means that both sides have the power to deadlock the system, so it is incredibly important that they maintain this relationship. A lot of the time it is a simple trade of legislation, or the addition of something that both sides can agree on. Or it can be a simple persuasion, a president can try and go against the will of the opposition majority party in congress by persuading a lot of it's members to vote for his bill, and get it passed. Most presidents don't have this sort of power, and even if they do, congressman expect something in return, often for him not to veto their legislation, and either sign it or leave it on their desk. In conclusion, the power and significance of congress is variable under circumstances, but it is typically great in domestic issues, and fairly weak in foreign ones. It's significance is always great in the law making process, however variable it is elsewhere. ...read more.

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