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Capacities of the Congress on the US president

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The constitution drafted in 1787 at the Philadelphia Convention was at the heart of the U.S. institutional relations between the President and Congress. The American system relies on a strict separation of powers because the President cannot dissolve both the Houses. The two Houses, themselves, cannot overthrow the government. To make this operational separation, it is accompanied, according to the philosophy of Montesquieu, by a system of checks and balances to prevent any form of tyranny. Nevertheless, the intent of the Founding Fathers is referred to the way George III had addressed the British Parliament. More weight was given to the Congress. The originality of this power granted to the legislature due to the principle derived from Locke's thought that the government must be founded on the consent of the governed, leads the constituents to give power to legislators at the expense of executive. Thus, Congress with bicameral structure, has direct authority over the executive and frames its action closely on the one hand, and can influence or even condemn the other.

First, the Constitution delegated to Congress the authority to decide on the course of action to be followed in the event that a majority was not reached in the electoral college for the election of the president and vice president. In fact, the House had to vote on two occasions; in 1801, for Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams in 1825. As for the Vice President, a similar scenario was witnessed in 1837 by the Senate for Richard Johnson. Thus, Congress has a voting power that can possibly control the formation of the executive. However, this power has fallen into disuse with the introduction of the two-party system.

More concretely, the Constitution gives the Senate the power to approve by simple majority all the key appointments to public office and the Supreme Court referred to it by the President and advise him in this choice. The Senate may sometimes undertake long and unpleasant interviews for a candidate for President, highlighting the smallest errors of his professional and private life. But it may also happen that the Senate does not examine closely enough the applications submitted to it. In January 1977, the Senate gave its advice and consent to the appointment of Bert Lance as Director of the Office of Management and Budget without paying enough attention to his career as a banker and management methods that were particularly weak, and which eventually forced him to resign in September 1977.

Since the Lance incident, the Senate now has access to records prepared by the FBI on the most important applications. It is rare that the Senate refuses to open a presidential proposal although theoretically he is free to reject the confirmation or at least delay, the appointment of an ambassador or a senior whose political outlook might seemingly be in contrast to his own. In fact, when President introduced John Bolton, an ultraconservative symbol, as ambassador to the United Nations, the Senate has been slow to confirm his appointment. Finally, the president won his case but only after the conclusion of a bargain with the Senate.

Tags: Philadelphia Convention, presidential powers, Senate

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