Politics - US - Powers of the US President

The Powers of the US President

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The Powers of the US President

  • To propose legislation to Congress - most usually announced in January session each year, however the President can propose legislation at any time; e.g. G W Bush after the September 11th attacks.
  • To submit the annual budget to Congress - usually involves a lenghty bargaining process between the President and Congress; e.g. Reagan's budget was returned eight times by Congress for amendment, and Clintons budget which lead to Gridlock pf the highest order and shut down the federal government.
  • To sign legislation passed by Congress - the President will sign bills for which he wishes to take some credit for.
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Powers of US President cont.

  • To veto legislation passed by Congress - can be used as a bargaining tool, returning of the bill to Congress without signing, gives the Pres. the chance to remove aspects of Pork - Barrel legislation from bills he would otherwise approve, e.g. Clinton vetoed 36 bills and 2 were overridden by Congress. there is also the use of the Pocket Veto.
  • To act as Cheif Executive - defined in Article 2 of the Constitution, puts him in charge of the running executive branch of the US Govt.
  • To nominate executive branch officals - These appointments require Senate approval, e.g. Obama's appointment of Sonia Sotomayor as Cheif Justice.
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Powers of the US President Cont.

  • To nominate Judges - Also requires the approval of the Senate.
  • To act as Commander - in - Chief - this power is substantial, particularly in the current situation. The only real check on this power is by Congress's 'power of the purse' and to a limited extent the War Powers Act 1973. e.g. Obama's plan to increase troops by 30,000 in Afghanistan and then withdraw after 18 months.
  • To negotiate treaties - For Example the Panama Canal Treaty (Jimmy Carter), Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Ronald Reagan), Chemical Weapons Ban (George Bush).
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The Power of the US Pres. Cont.

  • To pardon felons - usually only in uncontroversial cases but occasionally these do cause concern e.g. Ford's pardon of Nixon 1974, Bush's pardon of Casper Weinberger 1992 and a variety of pardons passed by Clinton during his last few days in office.
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The President must work through a number of people if he is to succeed -

  • The Vice President - Presiding officer in the Senate.
  • Congressional Liaison Staff - members of the White House Staff (WHS) who work as full-time lobbyists in Congress.
  • Cabinet Officers - Each works in their own policy related areas.
  • Party Leaders - Including the majority and minority leaders, whips, committee chairs etc...
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  • Make phone calls to selected members of Congress.
  • Offer to help with legislation.
  • Offer to help with federal / judicial appointments.
  • Invite members to a meeting at the White House.
  • Go to Capitol Hill to speak to a selected group.
  • Offer to campaign for member of his own party.

If all else fails he can go directly to the people. This is what President Johnson called 'Putting Congress's feet to the fire'.

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  • Congress
  • The Supreme Court
  • Public Opinion
  • Pressure Groups / Lobbyists
  • The Media
  • The Federal Bureaucracy
  • Federalism / State Governments
  • Other Factors;
    • His own professional reputation
    • The quality of his staff
    • The unity of his party and the opposition
    • Crises (or lack of them)
    • Luck
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