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'Congress is a policy-making body and Parliament is a policy-influencing body' Discuss.

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Introduction

'Congress is a policy-making body and Parliament is a policy-influencing body' Discuss. Parliament can modify and sometimes reject measures brought forward by the executive but cannot formulate and substitute policy of their own. Whereas in Congress can not only modify and reject proposed legislation but can also devise and substitute their own policy. Congress and Parliament are both legislatures, where one of their main roles is law-making. This is the main feature in congress taking up the majority of time with over 1000 bills being introduced into Congress compared with only 100 in a parliamentary session. However in Congress many Bills don't pass the committee stage whereas in the UK, there is an expectation that the bills will be passed, expect from Private Members Bills, which don't have much success in neither Congress nor Parliament. Party dominance and loyalty play a part in the nature of the legislatures, most British bills become law as the party leaders timetable the bills and direct them through the legislative process, and the whips ensure that MPs follow the party lines. ...read more.

Middle

In Congress bills can be proposed by Representatives or Senates, which allows more checks and balances on the executive. The executive also has to 'wheel and deal' to get policies through Congress with the example of Bill Clinton's health reform which caused controversy at the time. The committee stage of any bill is vital for it's continuation and it's ability to be made into a law. The standing committees of the US are permanent and specialist and can put forward recommendations and amendments to the proposed bill, most bills don't make it past this stage. This compares to the UK where committees and non-specialist and temporary, this paired with inadequate funding and access to personnel and information, renders them ineffective where deliberations are often predictable. Finance bills concerning the raising of taxes and the spending of money differ again from the US to the UK. Congress has the 'power of the purse' where the President submits a proposed budget, and Congress decides upon taxation, government borrowing and spending. ...read more.

Conclusion

The President's power of veto gives power back to the executive from Congress, making it less powerful as a policy-making body. Parliament may also not pass a finance bill, which would lead to a General Election, giving a limited amount of power back to Parliament, so although policy originates in the executive and various governmental departments, Parliament have the power to dismiss the government if they reject the Budget. Many tactics are used in the legislative process, including filibustering, cloture and imposing the guillotine. Such tactics allow bills to be abandoned, and can give the executive more dominance. They also make Congress less of a policy-making body as policy can be abandoned or talked out of time. Congress is generally seen as more influential as a law-making body, however many commentators have noted that this is a mixed blessing. 'Congress may be said... to be more status quo orientated, while the Administration is action-orientated' Gridlock occurs in Congress, whereas Parliament the legislative process in generally smooth for the government with certain exceptions such as the recent fox-hunting bill, although this leaves the question, which is a better process, a smooth sailing elective dictatorship, or a more democratic process which doesn't achieve anything? ...read more.

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