Institutional Powers of the President

The House of Representatives and the Senate are the two chambers that make up the Legislative Branch of the United States government. This arm of government was established, according to Article I of the Constitution (Ginsberg et al., 2021: 5). The Constitution grants Congress a wide range of investigative powers, the exclusive authority to pass laws and declare war, the capacity to validate or invalidate a number of candidates for the presidency, and a lengthy list of other essential responsibilities (Ginsberg et al., 2021: 41). The United States Congress is one of our government’s three equally powerful branches since the Constitution endows it with a significant amount of authority. The only component of the government with the power to pass new laws and alter existing ones is the Congress, due to the fact that it has unrestricted legislative authority. It is possible for the President to veto legislation that has been enacted by Congress; however, all that is required for Congress to override the President’s veto is a majority vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, thereby creating a balance in governance of the country.

In spite of the fact that previous presidents have tackled a broad variety of political challenges, the position of President of the United States has garnered greater respect and influence throughout the course of the last century. Because the presidency is “unitary,” the president has the ability to make judgments and take swift action. In the 20th century, the power of the presidency, the office of the presidency, the executive branch, and the public’s expectations for strong presidential leadership all increased (Ginsberg et al., 2021: 293). As a result, a strong executive began to take shape and became a permanent part of the politics of the United States of America. Because of the method in which these three factors interacted with one another, this was made feasible. In spite of the fact that those who drafted the Constitution intended for Congress to be the most influential branch of the government, modern presidents have access to a wide variety of official and informal instruments that allow them to rule the nation effectively.

According to Article II of the Constitution, the President of the United States is the head of all of the departments and agencies that make up the executive branch (Ginsberg et al., 2021: 332). The executive powers now include not just those that were previously mentioned, but also the capacity to enact reforms, the ability to propose a policy platform to Congress, and the ability to issue executive orders (Module 10, Lecture 2). The majority of the time, events of this kind result in a modification of the legislation. Other provisions of the Constitution, particularly those that provide the president executive authority and the title of commander-in-chief, provide the president with additional tools for carrying out his or her foreign policy responsibilities (Ginsberg et al., 2021: 346). For instance, having the explicit right to pick and accept ambassadors suggests that one also has the implicit capacity to recognize other governments and maintain diplomatic ties with other nations.

Because of the division of powers, the president and Congress are each responsible for separate aspects of foreign policy, and there is a great deal of debate over the extent to which each branch of government wields its own authority. Recent Congresses have had greater authority than in the past, which is in keeping with what the Constitution says, which emphasizes that legislative power is necessary (Module 10, Lecture 1). The Constitution states that Congress shall have the ability to pass laws. The Congress of the United States is the primary legislative body of the United States. Congress receives reports from both the executive branch and the judicial branch of the government (Module 9 Lecture 1). The US Congress is responsible for drafting and debating new laws, and it also has the authority to overrule vetoes issued by the President of the United States. Another indication that the legislature plays an essential part in the representative system of government that the nation utilizes is the significant role that both chambers of the legislature play in the process of revising the Constitution. Some of the president’s and Congress’s foreign policy authorities are theirs alone to exercise, while others are shared or don’t have a clear constitutional assignment.

When it comes to matters of foreign policy, particularly military action, the transfer of funds to other nations, and immigration, these two branches of the government often find themselves at odds with one another. The power of the judicial branch to resolve conflicts arising from the constitution (Module 9 Lecture 1). The Judicial Branch has a limited and hesitant ability to decide constitutional issues over foreign policy, since their responsibility is to review the work of Congress, which is in charge of regulating the nation’s foreign policy (Module 9 Lecture 1). The yearly appropriations process in Congress gives committees the opportunity to investigate the operation of large bureaucratic agencies such as the military and the diplomatic service, as well as the amount of money such bodies spend. Every year, the expenditure of more than a trillion dollars has to be approved by Congress, and of that amount, more than fifty percent is allocated to the pursuit of military and foreign policy objectives. In addition, legislators could have some input about the use of this money. For instance, Congress informed the Obama administration on two separate occasions that it was unable to utilize funds to transfer inmates out of the military prison located at Guantanamo. Because Congress has a great deal of investigative authority (Module 9, Lecture 2), it is able to examine into either the country’s national security or its foreign policy.

From this relationship, it is clear that there is a healthy balance between the presidency and the Congress, while both of these institutions act within their expected roles and responsibilities. Regarding how much power the president should have and the future of the balance between the presidency and Congress, I contend that the present structure and expectations from both institutions is optimum and healthy for a democratic nation. Past presidents have enjoyed relatively more power compared to recent presidencies such as President Obama and President Trump. On the one hand, having a strong Executive branch of government enables rapid and decisive action, which could be crucial for responding to conflict, emergent global issues such as the pandemic, and any other current events. On the other hand, if the US president gets an overwhelming amount of power, Congress and the general public may lose the ability to demand accountability and answers from a powerful office. Therefore, my proposal is that the relationship of Congress and the Executive branch remains as is, with the exception of adjusting to current affairs and emerging issues as appropriate.


Ginsberg, B., Lowi, T., Weir, M., Tolbert, C., Campbell, A., & Spitzer, R. (2021). We the People: An Introduction to American Politics, Nueva York. W. W. Norton & Company

Module 10, Lecture 1. Policymaking: Domestic and Foreign.

Module 10, Lecture 2. Can American Government Govern?

Module 9 Lecture 1. The Judiciary (1): The Foundations of Institutional Power.

Module 9, Lecture 2. The Judiciary (2): Organization and Membership.