Government And Policies

The Relationship between the President and Congress



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There is much talk in this election year from the candidates about their plans when they become President. The comments and statements being made by the candidates require that the relationship between the President and Congress be discussed. The individual who holds the position of President of the United States must be a leader who has the best interest of the country in mind when decisions are made. The President must be a person of honor and integrity in the performance of the responsibilities of the office. One of the critical responsibilities, I feel, of a President is to establish a budget and submit it to Congress. The budget submitted does not mean that the end result of the actions taken by Congress will match completely what gets passed and signed into law. Congress reviews the budget and determines what they feel are good programs to be enacted and which require additional discussion between Congress and the President. This requires communication and is an important factor in accomplishing anything. Today with the approval ratings of both Congress and the President it is clear that the relationship between them has problems and the public is not happy with either performance.

The relationship between Congress and the President is part of a checks and balance which was established in our Constitution. This is important. The President must lead and provide direction as to the necessary programs and the proposed budget for them. The President each year presents a state of the union message before a joint session of Congress and in it identifies the goals embedded in the proposed budget. Submitting a budget to Congress as I have previously stated does not mean that the President will get everything. The review of the proposed budget by Congress is the basic relationship between the President and Congress but it much more.

Congress has many responsibilities in conducting their business. Their main responsibility is to enact legislation that is right for the country considering the proposed budget submitted by the President. They also have the prerogative of enacting additional legislation which they feel is needed. The process of enacting legislation in Congress can be cumbersome to say the least. There are various bi-partisan committees in each of the two houses of Congress which deal with specific topics. The legislation that is created during the session of Congress passes through the committees that have jurisdiction on the topic. It is also an important part of the process for the President to communicate with these committees either personally or through the cabinet offices. This relationship is important as it helps to define or clarify legislation requested through the proposed budget. It also can be an avenue of negotiation of the details the President will accept in the final legislation. It must be made clear that it is the responsibility of Congress to enact legislation for submittal to the President for signature. It is also important to note that the language of legislation must be agreed upon by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The President is highly regarded as the leader of our country and the leader of the free world. However the office of President is much more and the relationship between the President and Congress has a direct bearing on the success of Presidential responsibilities. As the leader of our country he represents us in the world community and must sometimes make hard decisions in a short span of time. This sometimes causes friction when Congress does not agree with the decisions that are made. The President has more complex responsibilities that were not envisioned at the beginning of our country. Today as Commander in Chief of the Military the responsibility is much more complex than when the Constitution was first written. In this role the President has the responsibility for all military decisions and many times it has been seen that actions of Congress amounts to second guessing. Everyone has a right to their opinion but when that opinion affects the success of decisions that are made I feel it is inappropriate. The responsibility of Congress in terms of the military is to make sure that our military has the funding necessary to carry out any mission for which they are tasked. It is not the role of Congress to restrict or delay funding in an effort to impose their opinion on the President. This does not create a good working relationship.

The President is also responsible to negotiate treaties and conduct foreign affairs. The treaties must be voted upon by Congress and again people must realize the President can only propose legislation not enact it. If the public is unhappy with legislation that is being enacted today they must look to Congress. The President can have some leverage in communicating what he will approve regarding specific legislation but Congress must enact it. Today there are also many more agencies within the government and those who management them report directly to the President. Part of the responsibility of the President is to make sure the beauracracy runs efficiently and this is accomplished through those individuals who are part of the President's cabinet. In proposing legislation either through the budget or as issues surface the President pushes Congress to get legislation through to his desk for approval.

In this election year it is also important to identify that the President is the one office that everyone votes for while the members of Congress are voted in by their constituents

Being elected by all those who vote the President is the leader of public opinion. Decisions the President makes may not always be popular but being a leader is about making tough decisions which is felt to be in the best interest of the country. Leaders make decisions that are difficult. The relationship between the President and Congress involves congressional review of decisions, sometimes in detail. As part of the checks and balance the President also reviews or makes comments on decisions made by Congress. The responsibility that the President has is to determine which laws should be signed and which should be vetoed. This decision amounts to a review of the legislation enacted by Congress. While they are not laws the President can initiate executive orders giving direction to agencies in conjunction with their responsibilities. They cannot and should not amount to creating instructions that require enactment of legislation by Congress.

The Congress has an important task in reviewing the President's budget but they must do so without any reference to party policy on issues. There are always going to be issues with which the Congress may not be receptive but it is wrong for Congress to try and impose their will to force the President to sign legislation which, in my opinion oversteps their authority. One instance is the issue of the budget for the military. The President is the Commander in Chief of the military and regardless of whether Congress or the public disagrees with the actions funding should not be restricted.

This election year there are many promises being made. We must remember that promises being made by the candidates can only happen if Congress agrees with the proposals. Sometimes pubic opinion also impacts legislation for specific problems or necessary functions. It is important to elect or re-elect the members of Congress who are not going to be barriers to enact legislation simply because the other party has proposed it. It is a disservice to the public which they represent. While the approval rating of the Congress and the President is not the best we must elect those individuals who we feel will change those impressions the public has of decisions being made. We must look closely at all candidates for all offices and choose those who we feel will best serve our interest and work together for the good of the country. The candidates must provide details of how they will best accomplish their promises and how this will improve the approval ratings of both Congress and the office of President. Qualified candidates for any office must have examples of how they can stick to their principles, if they are good ones involving integrity. They must also exhibit that they are open to discussion to resolve differences on issues and get legislation enacted to satisfy any need.

More about this author: Dennis Aubuchon

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