Political Science Paper on American national government
The United States Congress is a bicameral legislative body whose primary function of law-making is carried out by the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, which is made up of 435 and 100 members, respectively. Due to the complex nature of their functions especially when it comes to reaching consensus, the Congress has a committee system. The committees are further divided into subcommittees which deliberate on specific issues. In total, there are over 200 subcommittees and committees. The committees are divided into standing committees which are found in both chambers. They are permanent are has oversight roles in addition to the agenda setting, advisorial and law making duties. They include Veterans’ Affairs, Budget and Appropriation Committees in both chambers. There are also select or special committees which deal with special or emerging issues on permanent or temporary basis. They include Committees on Intelligence, Indian Affairs and Aging among others. There are also joint committees for members of both chambers which operate on permanent or temporary basis such as the joint committee on economics, library, conference and taxation among others. There are several subcommittees under the standing committees in both chambers. For example, the House of Representative Committee on Appropriations has subcommittees on Homeland Security and Defense among others while the Budget Committee has a Workforce Protection subcommittee.
The committees and subcommittees are assigned proposed legislations sponsored by a Congress member. The committee deliberates on it in various including public hearings after receiving comments from relevant government agencies and non-committee experts. The committee or subcommittee considers all these inputs, amends them before agreeing on a language. The proposed legislation is presented before the relevant chamber accompanied by a report. If it passes the House of Representatives by a simple majority, it is presented before the Senate where the relevant subcommittees and committees consider it. The senators pass the bill via simple majority voting after which a joint conference committee for both chambers is constituted to work out any differences in the final version of the bill. The final document is presented before both chambers for final approval before printing and presidential assent or veto. The committee system determines the fate of bills because they are comprised on experts in various fields, mostly relevant to their committee mandates. Moreover, they can seek views from the general public and experts who have authority on the issue under consideration (“Chapter 13: The Congress” 421 – 450).
The president has significant power over foreign affairs because it is not a devolved federal function. It is centrally focused on the presidency which streamlines the decision-making process and concentrates power in one institution. This allows the country to have definite foreign affairs policy that they can use when dealing with other foreign powers. Devolving such powers to the state level would lead to contradicting foreign affairs policies from various states and territories. The country would ultimately lose its clout on the global arena. Signing of bilateral diplomatic agreements would be challenging without a unanimous front. Moreover, a weak domestic policy allows the local leaders to come up with policies that are tailor-made for the various special needs of their constituencies. The challenges facing the various political constituencies within the country are not universal or uniform. They require a flexible presidency; a weak domestic president. The federal government headed by the president can play an oversight and supportive role during the implementation of domestic policies.
“Chapter 13: The Congress”. N.p