Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics/AP NSL


Please explain how presidents have sought to increase their power and how congress and the courts have attempted to 'check' this rise in power. Thank you so much! :)


Of course, there are entire books on this topic, so it's rather hard to answer fully in just a few sentences.  

Initially, the President was designed to work for Congress.  His job was to execute the laws passed by Congress and run the day to day operations of government.

But because the Presidency is not divided up among multiple people like Congress, it is much easier for that branch to consolidate power.  Presidents have created the power of Executive Orders to tell federal employees what to do.  As the number of employees have expanded, this power has become much larger.  It often gives the President power to create policy without any input from Congress.

Another major area is regulatory authority.  The Executive Branch drafts thousands of regulations.  While these rules are supposed to be based on Congress passed laws, many of the authorizing laws are rather vague.  Many regulations go well beyond what might have been reasonably expected from the initial regulation.  This gives the President effective authority to make laws without the input of Congress.

The Executive also infringes on the Courts.  Many agencies conduct their own hearings and require people to go through Agency boards to resolve disputes.  This gives the President control over dispute resolution, and the ability to control interpretation of laws and regulations.

If Congress or the Courts wanted to restrict these expansions, they could do so through laws or court decisions, but largely they have not.  There have been some limits put on the Executive.  For example, Congress at one point gave the President the power to veto parts of the budget passed by Congress.  The Courts struck this down as unconstitutional.   Courts have also put limits on the power of agency hearings to decide cases without any resort to Court oversight.

In specific policy areas, Congress has sometimes overwritten federal regulations by passing a law.  Laws override regulations, so that is a way to end policies Congress decides are wrong.  The biggest restriction was probably the passage of a Constitutional Amendment limiting the President to two terms.   This helped to assure that no matter how much power the President accrued, he could only exercise it for a limited period of time.

I hope this helps!
- Mike  

Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question about U.S. Political history, Constitutional law, the legislative process, elections, etc. I enjoy Presidential and Congressional historical trivia, but can answer more substantive questions too.


Former Staff member for a Congressman and Senator. I also worked on about 10 Congressional and Presidential campaigns (only one that won). For a short time, I worked in the legal department of the Federal Election Commission.    I have a B.A. in Political Science.

Former LBJ Fellow (paid fellowship for Congressional Staff).
Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honorary Society).

Washington Post
Washington Times

J.D. University of Michigan
B.A. George Washington University (Poli. Sci. major).

Awards and Honors
LBJ Fellow
Truman Scholar

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