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How powerful is Congress?

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Congress and its Role he US federal system is governed by a system of 'separation of powers' and therefore there are a number of checks and balances implemented in this system of government. As well as playing a key role in balancing the power of the executive congress also has a number of important functions. For one, the most significant power Congress has is to pass legislation. Most of the creation of legislation is down to congressional committees in particular standing committees whom scrutinize legislation. Although the president actually proposes the legislation, congress filters it and considers amendment to the constitution, so in theory, the legislation comes directly from the President. In addition, Congress can reject any proposals the President proposes. Furthermore, Congress also has a key role in the process of a bill becoming law. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have to approve of a bill, and then they're three readings before the bill heads to a conference committee. There both the House of Representatives and senate agree over the difference in bills both houses have passed. ...read more.


Although this is usually completed without controversy, sometimes presidential nominees may be rejected. The senate also has a few exclusive powers such as the fact that they confirm appointments of presidential nominees. These include the nominees the president has made to the Supreme Court and to the executive branch. For example, Regan nominated Robert Bork in 1987 but Bork was rejected to radical conservative views. Another powerful function of Senate is the fact that they have the power to ratify treaties the president negotiates. However, despite the Senates power to ratify treaties there power in foreign affairs tends to be limited due to the fact the President has a large say in international affairs. For example, Furthermore, another significant role of Congress is the purpose of select committees whom are set up periodically to investigate specific issues that arise time to time. For example, if the executive branch has been corrupt or incompetent the select committees investigate this. The most famous example is Congress's investigation in corruption of the executive branch during the Watergate hearings. ...read more.


For example, although a President needs 2/3 of Congress's approval to ratify treaties, it is important to bear in mind that the President can get around this through executive agreements, where the President enters an agreement with a leader of a foreign country. This agreement has the same status in international law as a treaty, and in his 7 year presidency, Bill Clinton made 209 treaties but over 2000 executive agreements. In addition, the President possesses a number of powers that Congress has limited say over. For example, as commander in Chief, the president can impose US authority on weaker nations by deploying armed forces to countries (e.g such as Kuwait and Afghanistan). In addition, the President can drop nuclear weapons on enemies using his power in foreign policy, such as Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb in Japan after World War II. However, their power has been limited somewhat after the War Powers Resolution in 1973 which states that the president can only send the US armed forces into action if Congress authorizes it or the US is under severe attack. If there is no authorization of the war, then military force can only be used for 60 days. ...read more.

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