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The Legislative Branch Essay

The Legislative branch is the most powerful branch of the United States government. Congress has the power to tax, spend, make laws, and even make declarations of war. While the other branches often work independently of Congress – sometimes proceeding in complete opposition – the Constitution grants much more authority to Congress, making the Legislative branch the most powerful branch in government. The Framers of the constitution recognized that the Legislative branch would have the most power in the United States. In fact, they were concerned that it would be too powerful and saw it necessary to divide it into two.

In class, there was a discussion on The Federalist No. 51, which can be found in the back of the textbook. The author, James Madison, confirms why it was necessary to separate the powers of the Congress: ‘In republican government, the Legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the Legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit.

It may even be necessary to guard against dangerous encroachments by still further precautions. As the weight of the legislative authority requires that it should be thus divided… ” (Wilson, A20). Dividing the Legislative branch created two separate houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate, with each possessing unique roles in American government. For example, the constitution grants the House of Representatives the ability to ratify bills which impose taxation, while authorizing the Senate to advise and give consent to the president.

As a consequence of being divided, the Legislative branch can only exercise some of its more remarkable powers when there is agreement between the Senate and the House. One house cannot independently make laws, wage war, or propose an amendment to the Constitution without the other. Regardless of this division, however, the Legislative branch as a whole, remains the most powerful branch of government. The Constitution endows Congress with the power to borrow money and create taxes in order to “pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States” (Wilson, A5).

In class, this was referred to as the “Power of the Purse Strings”, which means Congress can control how much money is raised by the national government and where it gets spent. This is simply one of the most significant powers of any branch of government since every office of the federal government requires funding. Congress is given this authority exclusively. Through the purse, Congress has the means of influencing any federal group by withholding funds or setting restrictive conditions for the use of those funds. The Legislative branch is also the creator of national laws.

This authority is stated in the first section of Article L in the Constitution. It declares that, “all Legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States” (Wilson, A3). No president, justice of the Supreme Court, or any bureaucratic agency can introduce bills to the House or Senate. This power is given only to members of Congress. Congress may choose to pursue the guidance of officials from the other branches of government; but ultimately, only it determines the direction and the nature of bills. Article Il of the U. S.

Constitution gives the Executive branch the power to enforce laws (Wilson, A6). This is essentially the main reasonability and ultimate authority of the President of the United States, who is the head of the Executive branch. Other presidential powers explicitly listed in the U. S. Constitution are: being able to veto proposals of law, make federal appointments for judges and government agencies, negotiate foreign treaties with other countries, and grant pardons for federal offenses (Wilson, 304). Many important positions of American government are filled by presidential appointment.

This includes all cabinet positions, justices of the Supreme Court, and ambassadors to other nations. Potentially, these appointments could make the Executive branch the most powerful in American government. If the president were to only appoint members entirely loyal to him, the most important positions of the Executive branch would be essentially under the rule of one man. Congress has an indispensable method of checking the president’s power, and this is why the Executive branch is not the most powerful in American government. All presidential appointments must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.

The Constitution states, “he shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments” (Wilson, AZ). This ensures that appointees are qualified for their position, and are not simply puppets of the president. The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States and the only part of the federal judiciary specifically required by the Constitution. Members of the Judicial branch are referred to as justices. The president nominates Justices and the senate confirms them.

Justices hold their offices under life tenure Federal courts are the exclusive interpreters of the law and determine whether of not laws violate the Constitution. Inferior courts are constrained by the decisions of the Supreme Court; once the Supreme Court interprets a law, “all inferior courts are held to apply the Supreme Court’s interpretation to the facts of a particular case” (US Gov, 2017). This makes the Supreme Court very powerful. In recent years, almost every controversial, hot-button issue in American politics has been heard and decided by the Courts verdicts. Congress can hold the Supreme Court liable for its verdicts. This is why the Judicial branch is not the most powerful branch of government.

If the Court’s decisions were to deviate away from congressional approval, the Legislative branch can exert certain pressures on the Court. For example, Congress can change the starting date of the Court’s term, and therefore delay certain actions the Court could take on a specific case. Congress can also alter the size of the Court since Article III of the Constitution permits Congress to determine the shape and structure of the federal judiciary (Wilson, 388). This could allow Congress to artificially sway a court case in their favor. And in an extreme circumstance, Congress has the power to propose constitutional amendments which could then force the Court to assume a particular legal position.

According to the textbook, there is a fourth branch of American government called the bureaucracy. Bureaucracies are necessary for the implementation of national programs and policies. When the Legislative branch creates a law, it is necessary to establish an agency or department to oversee the law and verify that the standards set to it are obeyed (Wilson, 336). These organizations are the bureaucracy. They simply act as middlemen to enact the laws made by Congress or the president. They do not have the power to create or reject laws. The directives of a new law or policy are not always clearly defined. These omissions are what make bureaucrats so powerful; Congress allows them to interpret how vague polices should be implemented.

The federal bureaucracy does this by constructing regulations, arguably their most significant power within government. However regulations are not absolute, and can be easily challenged by the judicial system-additionally, they cannot be enacted until any legal issues are resolved. By far, the greatest check to the bureaucracy is Congress. Over the years, Congress has assumed significant investigatory power. This is called congressional oversight, and it is the reason why bureaucracy cannot be the strongest branch of government. As stated previously, when Congress creates a program or establishes a new governmental policy, its implementation is assigned to an Executive branch department or agency. This is the bureaucracy (Wilson, 354).

Congressional committees can keep a watchful eye on the application of policies which are under their prerogative. If a program is mishandled or goes in a direction that was not intended by Congress, a committee could call on the heads of the program’s agency or department and have them answer for their actions in a hearing. This creates a persistent threat of Congress cutting an agency’s budget or even eliminating a program altogether. This is what keeps bureaucrats inline and under Congress’s control. Although many areas of congressional oversight are designed to control the bureaucracy, they also act as a safeguard to insure that certain agencies remain free from presidential influence (Wilson, 354).

The Legislative body is the most powerful branch in the United States government because of the significant authorizes of Congress outlined in the Constitution. When working in unison, the Legislative branch simply dominates the other branches of government. The Senate approvals the appointments of the president, severely limiting his power. Congress can pass laws to manipulate the Supreme Court in their favor–changing the entire structure of the Court if advantageous. Congress has the “Power of the Purse Strings” and can threaten to defund entire agencies or departments of the Bureaucracy if they step out of line. The Legislative branch truly has the most power in American government.

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