As outlined in module seven, lecture one, the united states government is made up of three parts; the executive, legislature, and judicial system. To this end, the president of the U.S. oversees the executive arm of the federal government. The Congress is considered as a bicameral legislative branch since two chambers determine its functionality; the senate and the House of Representatives. On the other hand, the judicial system is comprised of the Supreme Court and lower courts, respectively. Be that as it may, these three branches of government play a critical role in ensuring the government’s efficacy in protecting the rights of its citizens (Module 1, Lecture 1).
Under article one, section eight of the U.S. constitution, the powers of the Congress are defined and further interpreted by resolutions of the Supreme Court. The powers of the Congress include borrowing money, collecting taxes, regulating commerce, maintaining a navy, and the army as well as declaring war (Ginsberg et al., 2017:54). By giving Congress all these powers, the framers of the constitution intended to ensure that the Congress is influential. At the same time, since Congress controls crucial powers, citizens are assured that their views are well represented all the times when the government intends to exercise its powers.
Additionally, as a further assurance that the government would not threaten or override the people’s will, the U.S. constitution posits that any powers that are not listed therein were not given at all. In retrospect, this is referred to as the principle of expressed powers. However, to create a powerful and active government, the U.S. constitution has an elastic clause that grants Congress the power to make and amend laws that are necessary for the effective functionality of expressed powers (Module 7, Lecture 2). The expressed powers are meant to strengthen the federal government as opposed to limit its powers.
Further, as highlighted in module seven lecture two, the Congress has the power to oversight over a bill or law through its implementation, initiate legislation, override presidential vetoes, structure judicial jurisdiction, and judicial structure restriction as well as override the judiciary in case the president agrees on the same. Also, the senate, as a member of the Congress, has the mandate of approving senior presidential appointments such as attorney general, cabinet secretaries, ambassadors, and United States Marshalls among others. In module seven, lecture two, it is clear that the power of Congress is grounded in the house committees. The house committees specialize in the informational needs of the members, thus providing a platform for the expertise to control the executive arm of the national government.
Based on the readings on module eight, lecture one, the powers of the president are embedded in the constitution. In this context, the presidential powers are determined by how the president is connected with the people. For this reason, presidential power usually comes from popular mobilizations, political parties, executive order, the administration, and more importantly, the president’s interaction with the ordinary citizens. Module eight lectures one highlights that Franklin Roosevelt gained power through the establishment of entitled programs expanded federal programs as well as direct connections with the people by speaking through the national radio. At the same time, Teddy Roosevelt gained peoples’ trust by bypassing Congress and directly connecting with the people. In addition, the head of the state’s party is considered as an essential resource if it can gain control of Congress. Nonetheless, if the opposition party dominates the Congress, then the presidency would be a weak vessel for formulating and implementing legislative policies (Ginsberg et al., 2017:365).
The president’s powers expanded in the 20th century since they were able to incorporate both political and institutional resources to counter congressional powers in United States national politics. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president in 1932 amid great depression crisis. Notably, to lead U.S. out of great depression, FDR signed domestic legislation dubbed the new deal. The legislation enhanced the mandate of the national government in controlling the nation’s economy in an attempt to curb the effects of the great depression crisis.
Additionally, the new deal focused on federal government initiatives that were intended to offer relief to unemployed people, monitor the private sector, and subsequently revive the economy. By doing so, the federal government forged the U.S. political system in the sense that the government was in charge of the prosperity of the U.S. citizens. At the same time, the Congress allowed the government to intervene in the economic crisis that engulfed the U.S (Ginsberg et al., 2017:89). In this context, FDR created new laws and agencies that focused on addressing unemployment, banking crisis and frail industrial productivity. This way, FDR was, therefore, able to use institutional and political resources to rebuttal congressional dominance throughout U.S. political landscape.
In the 20th century, the presidency powers expanded due to dear of invasion and communist expansion in the Soviet Union period (Module 8, Lecture 2). To this end, fears of the presence of the communists within U.S. jeopardized the country’s security. For this reason, the president amassed military power to safeguard the country as well as its citizens. During the cold war, the U.S. relied on the presidency to safeguard its interests. In addition, the U.S. developed a containment policy that aimed to suppress the spread of communism. Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt worked in tandem with Congress in formulating bills that assisted the U.S. to gain global power. World War 1 offered President Wilson a platform to be among the role models in international affairs.
Ideally, the political power of the U.S. rests in three branches of the government; the executive, the judiciary and legislature and as well as external actor’s such as the fourth estate and lobbying groups (Module 5, lecture 3). In the U.S., the political process is seen as a political struggle between the executive and the Congress (Module 8, Lecture 4). During the 20th century, the powers of the presidents were restricted to administrative functions while massive political power was vested to the Congress. However, in recent times, this narrative has not changed as expected. There has been a great rift between the president and the Congress. This is because; the president lacks control of the Congress. On the other hand, Congress limits the powers of the president through their congressional oversight roles. For this reason, the future is uncertain since the balance cannot be struck between Congress and the presidency.
On the whole, the conflict between the legislative and executive arms of the federal government is inevitable. Notably, the branches are independent, and therefore, the president can have supporters in both houses even when opposed by majorities in Congress. Similarly, presidents face opposition even when they control both the Senate and House of Representatives through their respective parties. For this reason, the president and Congress ought to look for ways to function together to accomplish common goals. There is a wide gap on the constitution on how the president and the Congress would adduce jurisdiction over policymaking and bureaucracy.
Ginsberg, B., Lowi, T. J., Weir, M., Tolbert, C. J., & Spitzer, R. J. (2017). We the people: An introduction to American politics. W.W. Norton & Company, New York.