Government Section 2.2


Explain the powers of Congress and how the balance of power between Congress and the President have shifted over time.


Over the years, there have been many instances where the powers Congress and the President have shifted.

The addition of amendments such as the 20th or 22nd have restricted power on the President, whereas Article I, section 9 of the Constitution also denies certain powers to Congress (174). For example, Article I prohibits Comgress from suspending the writ of habeas corpus except in cases of rebellion of or invasion when public safety requires it. They are also prohibited from passing ex post facto laws, that is, they cannot criminalize an act that was legal when it was committed. Also, Congress is prevented from taxing exports.

Congress requires some executive agencies to report to it. The 1946 Employment Act requires the president to send Congress an annual report on the nation's economy. Other offices such as the Givernment Accountability Office (GAO) oversees an examination of the finances of federal agencies to see if public money is being spent appropriately and legally.

During the Civil War era, President Lincoln assumed vast executive powers to deal with the crisis and Congress went along with it. However, President Johnson nearly was impeached by Congress and became the center of power in the federal government (192).

Starting in the early 1900's, the balance of power between Congress and the President shifted again. Presidents like Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson assumed leadership roles and public expectations of the President grew.

To date, any president who proposes major new programs will most likely come into conflict with Congress, especially if the Presidency and Congress are controlled by different parties.

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