The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America that has the supreme legal force. The Constitution went into effect on September 17th, 1787 (Schroedel, 2016). It was subsequently ratified by all thirteen US states that existed at the moment. This law is regarded as the first constitution in the world in the modern sense. The US Constitution is based on the principle of separation of authorities between the legislative (the Congress), executive (the President) and judicial (the Supreme courts and lower courts) branches (Scutt, 2019). The purpose of this paper is to explore and discuss the role of the President and Congress from the point of view of its correspondence with the initial incentive of the Founding Fathers.
The Principle of Separation
On having won the fight for the independence of the US, the Founding Fathers wanted to promote equality and freedom in the country. They felt it would be right not to lodge one person with all the governmental power (Schroedel, 2016). Therefore they implemented the mechanism of division of powers and checks and balances to provide liberty and make sure that no person having a senior position would be able to drastically consolidate their power (Schroedel, 2016). Researches note that “the United States was the first country to elect the executive and legislative branches separately and remains one of the very few to do so” (Schroedel, 2016, p. 3). So, it might be possible to note that the principle of power separation is still followed by in the USA.
The Role of the Congress
Following the Constitution, legislative powers are vested in the body of popular government, the United States Congress, which consists of two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The lower chamber is meant to represent the interests of the people of all states, while in the Senate, the upper chamber, more attention is drawn to the individual needs of each state (Herring, 2017). The members of both chambers are elected with direct popular elections by secret ballot (Herring, 2017). The powers of the Congress are divided into general, given to the representatives of both chambers, and special, given to each part of the Congress individually (Herring, 2017). These are the main differences between the two chambers of this US body.
The general functions encompass introducing legislation and adopting resolutions in several sectors. In the financial and budgetary sphere, they are the right to impose and levy taxes, duties, excise taxes, coinage, loans, bankruptcy regulation, the adoption of the federal budget. The range of powers in the field of defense and external policy includes the exclusive right to declare war, decide on the formation of the armed forces, declare a call from the police to repel an invasion of the country. As for the domestic policy, Congress establishes federal courts, regulates the procedure for acquiring citizenship, decides on the uniform measures and weights, etc. Speaking about the special powers, the House of Representatives is empowered to start an impeachment trial, and the Senate can bring on such a case. These are a part of the checks and balances mechanism of the United States. The chambers are equal in the legislative process. A law is considered adopted if the majority of parliamentarians in each institution vote for it. Only financial bills should be passed to the House of Representatives.
The Role and the Responsibilities of the President
The executive power in the United States is exercised by the President. A prolonged tenure of office of a President can place in jeopardy the basic principles of democracy and freedom, defined by the Founding Fathers. Therefore a person can serve only two terms in this office. It is prescribed by the Constitution that, as head of the country, the US President has a set of powers in the fields of security provision, foreign relations, as well as interaction with the legislative and executive authorities. The President also acts as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States (Herring, 2017). Under the system of checks and balances, the President, with the advice and by agreement of the Senate, appoints judges of the Supreme Court and other federal courts. The President also has the right to convene one or both chambers of Congress for extraordinary meetings and the power of veto.
Despite the fact that the mechanism of checks and balances works, today the separation of power is not as distinct as it used to be and the impact of the presidential power is expanding. According to Hooker (2016), “each successive president continues to add to his office’s list of extraordinary orders and directives, expanding the reach and power of the presidency and granting the Executive vast amounts of powers” (p. 6). The President has, for example, some functions in norm creating, so, the legislative power nowadays is not fully centered in the Congress (Hooker, 2016). It can be noted that the changing world requires new patterns of relationships between the representatives of different branches.
To some up, the major responsibilities and functions of the Congress and the President denoted by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution are reserved in the 21st century. The separation of authorities between the Supreme Court (the judicial branch), the President (the executive branch), and the Congress (the legislative branch) still exist. However, the world of the 21st century is much different from the world the Founding Fathers lived in, so, today the USA sees more cooperation between the branches in accomplishing their functions.
- Herring, P. (2017). Presidential leadership: The political relations of Congress and the Chief Executive. New York, NY: Routledge.
- Hooker, J. (2019). Presidential power and its expanding influence: Suggestions on how to strengthen checks and balances. Honors Projects, 728.
- Schroedel, J. (2016). Congress, the President and policymaking: A historical analysis. New York, NY: Routledge.
- Scutt, J. (2019). The US Constitution – A very short introduction. The Denning Law Journal, 30(2), 191-196.