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The United States' Congress is perhaps one of the most powerful legislative Assemblies' in the world.

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Introduction

The United States' Congress is perhaps one of the most powerful legislative Assemblies' in the world. It is an "active" assembly, as described by M Mesey, by being wholey independent of the other branches of government through the entrenched separation of powers, has the power to actually make law. Under the constitution Congress is tasked with a number of responsibilities, these are making legislation, scrutinising the executive, and having control over fiscal matters. Prior to 1930 Congress was the main policy and law making body in the United States, with the President occupying a more symbolic role as the Founding Fathers had envisaged. However with the election of the Frank Rosevelt in the 1932 it was Congress which was to adopt a passive role. In the first hundred days FDR had secured emergency powers cementing his position as truely head of Government, not just head of state, as he pushed through a sweeping programme to save the US from the Depression - clearly the President was not setting the agenda, not Congress. ...read more.

Middle

The Committee stage is essential in this acting "as seives" in filtering legislation. It is at this stage that committee actualy has the power to stop the legislation in its tracks by pigeon holing it, or ammending to the point that it achieves very little. The committee chairman has imense say in committee agenda, and therefore the steering of legislation. The next stages also have significant power over whether the legislation has a chance of sucess. The House Rules Committee is one of the most powerfull comittee's having the power over the timetabling of all bills for their second hearing, and can therefore the higher up the legislative timetable the less chance of sucess as time runs out in the legislative year. Also the House Rules Committee also has the power to pegion hole legislation like any other committee. The next obstacle comes in the Senate in which anyone can talk a bill out of time, and thus out of existence. ...read more.

Conclusion

The open committee system has caused the rise of the influence of interest groups, and comnstitutents, with congressmen becoming increasingly interested in their parochial concerns for re-election, or interest groups for PACs funds. In the case of the War Powers Act all wars in which the US has been involved has been less than 60 days, and thus ineffect the Act has been useless in limiting the power of the President. Finally the failure of addressing the issues of party ties which caused so much trouble for Democrats in the 1960s was seen in action again the 1980's in which southern Democrats support much of Regan's agenda. Although the reforms saw initial increase in activism in Congress, the effects are inconsistent, and rather the obstacles remain. In 1994 the Republicans became the dominant party in Congress. In the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich led the Republican's with the 'contract with America'. This was effectively a party manifesto in which Republican representatives had agreed to 10 point mainfesto to push through in the first 100 days of office. ASSESS THE EFFECTIVENESS OF CONGRESS AS A POLICY MAKING BODY ...read more.

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