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American Politics and Foreign Policy Prof. Jaechun Kim American Congress and the Problem of Divided Government.

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Presentation on theme: "American Politics and Foreign Policy Prof. Jaechun Kim American Congress and the Problem of Divided Government."— Presentation transcript:

1 American Politics and Foreign Policy Prof. Jaechun Kim American Congress and the Problem of Divided Government

2 Notable Things about American Congress Which branch was the first branch? The First Branch of the American Government The founders of the American republic believed that the bulk of the power that would be exercised by a national (federal) government should be in the hands of the legislature (not in the executive branch)! The leading role envisioned for Congress in the new government is apparent from its primacy in the Constitution (Article I)  the most important branch of government Remember! Congress was the central government under the Articles of Confederation! Congress was the dominant institution (vis-à-vis Presidency) until the turn of the 19th century!! Congressional leaders were dominant politicians…! American Congress

3 The intention of Founding Fathers was to design a system that would prevent one person (King) from holding too much power. The intention of Founding Fathers was to design a system that would prevent one person (King) from holding too much power. One way to do was to take law-making power from the executive branch and to put it in the hands of legislature… composed of a group of people… One way to do was to take law-making power from the executive branch and to put it in the hands of legislature… composed of a group of people…

4 Power of Congress Power to make laws “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” These legislative powers are spelled out in detail in Article I and elsewhere in the Constitution. Bureaucracies seized a great deal of legislative power…in recent years, though…

5 Advice and Consent: Special Senate Powers Under Article II, Section 2, the Senate must advise on, and consent to, the ratification of treaties and must accept or reject presidential nominations of ambassadors, Supreme Court justices, and “all other Officers of the United States.” President make treaties and appoint top executive officers, ambassadors, and federal judges, but only “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate” Confirmation of appointees and ratification of treaties (important scrutinizing mechanism)

6 The Oversight Function Hearings; Investigation; Impeachment Power of Purse: Budgetary Power Power to declare war ?? Power to regulate international commerce…! Very powerful foreign policy authority!!

7 It is Congress that is responsible for organizing the executive branch… which means… Setting up executive departments such as the DoD and Department of Homeland Security Setting up executive agencies such as FRB… quite independent from the President… Setting up independent regulatory commissions such as the FEC…. More independent from the President… Organization of these bodies can be altered by an Act of Congress… The US Congress is more powerful than any other legislative bodies in other countries that adopted presidential system…

8 Bicameralism Why Bicameralism? Why Bicameralism? To ensure the fair representation of the small states To ensure the fair representation of the small states For check and balance between the two chambers… For check and balance between the two chambers… Different constituencies Different constituencies Senate – cf. 7th amendment to the constitution in 1913 Senate – cf. 7th amendment to the constitution in 1913 House House They have to agree on the exact wording of any bills… They have to agree on the exact wording of any bills… Different terms! Different terms! cf. staggered term (Senate) cf. staggered term (Senate) House-Senate Differences House-Senate Differences

9 Senate is more deliberative – powerful in making more important decisions… Senate is more deliberative – powerful in making more important decisions… Filibuster... Filibuster... House is more centralized and organized… cf. Senate House is more centralized and organized… cf. Senate House – constituencies are small and homogeneous  serve agents of well- organized local interests with specific legislative agendas…! House – constituencies are small and homogeneous  serve agents of well- organized local interests with specific legislative agendas…! Senate – large constituencies… more national outlook.. Senate – large constituencies… more national outlook..

10 Leadership in the House The Speaker (the de facto leader of the majority party) cf. The major formal powers of the Speaker include the following: Presiding over meetings of the House Appointing members of joint committees and conference committees Scheduling legislation for floor action Deciding points of order and interpreting the rules with the advice of the House parliamentarian Referring bills and resolutions to the appropriate standing committees of the House The Majority Leader The Minority Leader Whips

11 Leadership in the Senate president pro tempore – the longest continuous term of service in the Senate Strom Thurmond (SC) – 1954- 2003 majority floor leader and minority floor leader and their respective whips

12 http://www.thecapitol.net/FAQ/c ong_leadershipWpics.html

13 Party Leaders in the 112 th Congress (House, 2011~2013) PositionIncumbentParty/ StateLeader since SpeakerJohn BoehnerR./ OH. (8 th ).Jan./ 2011 Majority LeaderEric I. CantorR./ VA. (7 th ).Jan./ 2011 Majority WhipKevin McCarthyR./ CA. (22 nd ).Jan./ 2011 Republican Conference Chairperson Jeb HensarlingR./ TX. (5 th ).Jan./ 2011 Republican Conference Vice-Chairperson Cathy M. RodgersR./WA. (5 th ).Jan./ 2009 Minority LeaderNancy PelosiD./ CA. (8 th ).Jan./ 2011 Minority WhipSteny HoyerD./ MA. (5 th ).Jan./ 2011 Democratic Caucus Chairperson John B. LarsonD./ CT.(1 st ).Jan./2009 Democratic Caucus Vice-Chairperson Xavier BecerraD./ CA. (31 st ).Jan./ 2009

14 Party Leaders in the 112 th Congress (Senate, 2011~2013) PositionIncumbentParty/ StateLeader since President Pro TemporeDaniel InouyeD./ HawaiiJun./ 2010 Majority LeaderHarry ReidD./ NevadaJan. / 2007 Majority WhipRichard J. DurbinD./ IllinoisJan./ 2007 Vice-Chair of the Democratic Conference Chuck SchumerD./ New YorkJan./ 2007 Secretary of the Democratic Conference Patricia ‘Patty’ Murray D./ WashingtonJan./ 2007 Minority LeaderMitch McConnellR./ KentuckyJan./ 2007 Minority WhipJon L. KylR./ ArizonaDec./ 2007 Chairperson of the Republican Conference Lamar AlexanderR./ TennesseeDec./ 2007 Vice-Chair of the Republican Conference John BarrassoR./ WyomingJun./ 2010

15 Committee Structure The Power of Committees Commonly known as "little legislatures," committees usually have the final say on pieces of legislation. Seldom overturned on the floor… Types of Congressional Committees Standing Committees In the 108th Congress, there were 68 subcommittees in the Senate and 88 in the House Select Committees – limited time Joint Committees cf. The House Rules Committee The selection of committee members – seniority system…!?

16 Potential Problems of American Presidentialism Outside the US, presidentialism hasn’t really worked very well… Dual Democratic Legitimacy Both the president, who controls the executive and is elected by the people, and an elected legislature enjoy democratic legitimacy! In parliamentary system, the only democratically legitimated institution is parliament! Parliament chooses the Prime Minister and the cabinet. Problem of Divided Government

17 Legitimacy of Prime Minister and the cabinet is derived from the parliament… They are politically accountable to parliament. With vote of non- confidence, parliament can dismiss PM and the cabinet. In Presidential system, the president is not accountable to parliament (but directly to people!) Legitimacy of president is not derived from Parliament… There is another institution, Parliament, which derives legitimacy from people! The legislature (which is elected by the direct election) also enjoys democratic legitimacy. And the problem is that the legislature can be controlled by the opposition parties!  divided government!

18 Who speaks better in the name of people? When President and the Legislature clash, which branch has more democratic legitimacy? Is there any democratic principle to resolve it? Who speaks better in the name of people? “plebiscitary aura” of presidential election  I, the President, have the full claim to democratic legitimacy…. Rigidity of the Presidentialism Both the president and the congress are elected for a fixed term, the president’s tenure in office is independent of the legislature, and the survival of the legislature is independent of the president. This leads to “rigidity” of Presidentialism.

19 Why does the system work in the US? Why there is no gridlock during the Divided Government? Divided Government and Unified Government in the post- WWII American Politics Unified UnifiedDivided 1949-1952Truman 1953-1954Ike 1955-1960Ike 1961-1968 JFK, LBJ 1969-1976 Nixon, Ford 1977-1980Carter 1981-1988Reagan 1989-1992Bush 1993-1994Clinton 1995-2000Clinton 2001-Bush

20 During the Divided Government, presidential bills were passed and the opposition party didn’t launch any hostile investigations… or hold hearings… basically no difference between unified and divided governments… this is quite different from other presidential democracies…! Why? Lack of Party Discipline   cross voting – On substantive policy issues, even when party positions are clearly enunciated, members often vote against their own parties… cf. Parliamentarism  strong party discipline!

21 Why Lack of Party Discipline? Why is cross-voting possible in the US? reflection of individualistic political culture? Party nomination system for Congresspersons… based on open primary!!! This explains why the Congresspersons care about their constituency interests first! This explains why the Congresspersons care about their constituency interests first!  constituency interests come first !!!  NAFTA bill under the Clinton administration; W. Bush’s initiative to amend Social Security Act ; KORUS  Once again, why would members of Congress be willing to give priority to local constituency interests?  Decentralized Party Leadership!

22 Lack of Party Disciple, hence Cross-Voting, explains why divided government works in the US!! Lack of Party Disciple, hence Cross-Voting, explains why divided government works in the US!! But is this observation still valid in the US? But is this observation still valid in the US?


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