Relationship Between the President and Congress in the Lawmaking Process

The US government comprises of three main bodies that include the executive body, judiciary branch, and the legislatives branch. The three bodies are involved in the law making process but at different levels. The two main bodies which are involved in the formation of national laws in the country are the legislatives and the executive bodies. The US government system adapts a bicameral legislative system with two houses that include the representative house and the Senate house.  The law formation process starts in the representative house. After it passes this stage, it is passed to the senate where it is reviews and if any amendments are required the policy or the bill is sent back to the representatives’ house for amendments. In case the bill is approved by the senate, then the bill must be passed to the president, who is required to sign it if it satisfies him or her, or refuse to sign it and send to it back to the senate with an objection.

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The relationship between the president and the congress is founded on a constitutional structure of sharing of power between separate institutions. The plan of the framers was to ensure the separation of executive from the congress, and thus ensuring the independency of the legislatures in the law making process. The independence was to be ensured by distinct processes of selection for the two branches and through definite lawmaking privileges given to the congress. Nevertheless, cooperation between the two independent bodies would be essential in the development of public policy. The association between the congress and chief executive has been defined as struggle invitation, as the two bodies seems to conflict while exacting their mandates in the law formation processes (File, Incorporated, 2009). The political system of the US contains constitutional foundation   with power separation among the government branches and the resultant balances and checks. This paper reviews the relation between the president and the congress in the United States especially with regard to the formation of the law.

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Relation between the President and the Congress in the Law Making Process

The constitution gives the law making power to the congress. Nevertheless, the presidential signature is needed before an enactment of a bill into law, but only if the president is comfortable with the discussed bill. In this case, the bill is introduced to the parliament by the minister, member of the legislator, or it can be initiated by the president. The bill is read for two times, discussed or scrutinized by the legislative committee and voted for. In case a bill wins in the parliamentary vote, the bill is taken to the senate where it is scrutinized further. Senate may pass the bill or return it to the parliament for amendment (File, Incorporated, 2009). Once the senate passes the bill, the bill is taken to the president for signing where it is passed to be the law. Nevertheless, this is not guarantee. The president may refuse to sign the bill, and it is referred back to the senate. Basically, the president does not have the power to make any alteration to legislation or a bill. The president can only reject or accept it.

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When a bill is rejected by the president, the president refers it back to the senate or its place of origin, with his objection. The objection will be entered into the house journal where it will be reconsidered. In this case, the reconsideration may include altering the bill to address the president concern and make him sign it, or voting for the bill as it is without making any changes. If the reconsideration involves voting and two thirds of the members of the house vote in the favor of the bill, the bill and the president objections are sent to the other house or the parliament (File, Incorporated, 2009). In case the bill also receives a minimum of two third supports in the parliament, then the bill shall be passed into the law, without the president’s approval. The relation between the president and the congress is very important in this case. Although the president is not allowed making changes to a bill, he can initiate changes by influencing the voting for the bill. The president is selected via a certain party which has legislative representatives in both houses. The president part members in the two houses are anticipated to play the main role in ensuring that the president opinion is considered in the formation of the law. The president can only influence laws formation in congress by having a high number of supporters in that, there will be no time where a bill rejected by the president will be passed through majority vote.

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The congress always has an upper hand when it comes to the matters regarding legislative authority. Although the president might be perceived as the national leader, chief legislator, vision builder and agenda setter, it is the congress that often has the final word. The congress contains various veto points, each of which might block the proposal of the president, and at all points, the congress takes the upper hand to decide on what will transpire. This subject the country into negative veto points that limit the power of change. The United States constitution according to Facts on File, Incorporated (2009), has developed a state where the congress and the president guerrilla warfare is highly inevitable, by giving president limited legislative power compared to the congress.

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According to Thurber (2013), there have been strong rivalries between congress and the president, which is highly rooted on various factors that include the constitutional structuring. The constitutional framer left Americans with a continuing rivalry in the government, between the congress and the president. Although the constitution separate the three government branches, it also integrate their functions generating shared powers and conflict. The constitution developed a government with separated power sharing institutions that make it hard for president to close the constitutional gap, even in the political best circumstances. The constitution provides the congress and the president various power and each one of them is jealous of the constitutional prerogatives of the other, irrespective of the context. The congress was invested by the constitution with all law making power, but also sanctions the president to veto or recommend legislation. In case a bill is vetoed by the president, it will need to be responded by the senate two-third of the house representative and the senate. However, according to Thurber (2013), this is hard to attain and thus, the vetoes of the president are normally sustained. 

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According to Thurber (2013), the congress dominates the president in the formation of the law.  The constitution convention ensured that the president would not control the process of policymaking. However, the situation is different with regard to foreign affairs related laws. The president is provided with important powers with matters pertaining foreign affairs. The president contains powers to respond in emergencies, though congress would control war policy. According to Thurber (2013), the congress represents different and frequently irreconcilable interest, obtaining a long-term dominance against the executive body. However, congress eventually makes decision regarding majorities of policies that assist in protecting the citizens from exploitation and enhancing president counterbalance. This can be identified especially in financial sensitive aspects such as the budget formation. Nevertheless, they cannot be left to handle matters of urgency.

According to Bold, Coletta and Shackelford  (2005), decision making in national security interest is very difficult in a congress. This is because the conflicts intrinsic in having national-security decision makers multiplicity will create the impact of distorting, delaying, and inhibiting decisions which have to be made.  Swiftness is needed in a world, demanding increasing international trends perceptiveness and more coherence and responsiveness in adapting or trying to influence them. Nevertheless, for the development of suitable national security policy, public acceptance and congressional support are highly needed. Because of the congress representative role and its power against the prize, no effective president can manage to distance him- or herself from congress leadership, isolate her- or himself from the process of legislation, or to disregard congress.

The congress’ functioning and organization rest basically on the committee structure. In the course of usual legislative process, a bill is initially taken to committees with subcommittees and committees chair exercising suitable power in the fate determination. This creates the major difference between the congress and the president. The presidency institution rests on a person who heads governmental hierarchical branch (Bold, Coletta & Shackelford, 2005). The power center is clear and the obligations for nation laws execution are based on the president. Unlike in congress, there is very little responsibility or power fragmentation in presidency. However, a different picture is seen in the congress, where there is responsibility or power fragmentation in the institution between committee, subcommittees and speakers. It is also very hard to give obligation to one member of the congress.

The accountability of the congress act lies on the entire institutions and not on a single individual. This makes it easy to pass blame to the corporate body as an institution, unlike in presidency where the roles are clearly defied and the blame an easily be put on the president. This congress picture demonstrates the reason as to why the congress members are highly flexible when taking their positions politically. The fact that they can constitutionally disclaim responsibilities for their contribution to any institutional result makes it hard to trust them with sensitive policies that include the security policies (Bolt, Colletta & Shackelford, 2005). In this regard, the president is granted an upper had to make laws during crisis on in matters that are considerably sensitive policies such as security. However, the congress involvement as stated above cannot be completely eliminated in any policy making process. For instance in this case, they must pass the budget related to the made security laws.

Factors influencing the Relationship between the President and the congress in Law Making

The relation between the president and the congress is highly influenced by the constitution. The constitution has the role of dividing power in the government, and unfortunately it created a conflict while dividing roles in the law making process. This power division by the constitution created a conflicting situation in the law development process. While the president role is to sign the law, he can as well refuse to sign and send it back. This demonstrates the presidential influence in law making process. However, the ability to show this law lies on the presidential influence in the senate and representatives houses (Thurber, 2013).  Poor influence implies that the president veto can be overruled by the third majority in the two houses. Nevertheless, with high influence, the houses will lack the third majority to overrule the president and thus, the bill will have to be amended or suspended based on the situation. Thus presidential influence is another aspect that dictates the relationship between the president and the congress.

To be able to influence the law formation, the president needs to seek support from the congress. According to Janda, Berry and Goldman (2007) there are various aspects that guide the success of the president when handling congress. One of these factors is crisis. The president in Janda, Berry and Goldman (2007) views is rendered a great deference deal, and the congress normally back the president up during crisis, a good example being after the 9/11 bombing. At this time, the president proposition on security bills was highly backed by the congress to ensure security in the country. The second factor is the possession of clear electoral command by the president, especially when the president wins by a wide margin and hence, the party of the president contains a large majority in both houses or in the congress. In this case, the president will have the ability to influence the law with great congress support.

The third factor is that the president can create pressure on congress member in case he or she has a landslide win in the election and runs ahead of members in the home district, a situation that is regarded as presidential coattails (Janda, Berry & Goldman, 2007). The fourth factor is the higher presidential popularity levels which are frequently said to be power source against the progress. Nevertheless, it is not easy for the president to decipher popularity into supremacy. According to social scientists, popularity only contains marginal effect on success of presidential in congress. Skill is the fifth factor, although its level of importance in success of legislation is questionable, thought there is a part of social scientists that believe that high level of skill can provide a president with a higher wining influence in the congressional process. Different skills that include agenda setting, public moving, persuasion, good timing, skill on coalition-building, cooptation, self-dramatization, consultation,  trading, arm-twisting and threat can be utilized to advance the goals of the president.    

The Congress and the President Relationship Evaluation

Initially, the congress was constitutionally established as the dominant government branch, and the presidents that served in the first few terms were just involved in the process of legislation minimally. The vision founder soon paved way to political reality, and gradually presidents started to pull power into the state house, and commonly, the congress was an agreeable participant in providing the president extra power (Thurber, 2013).  Currently, the system that was designed as congressionally based system has changed into an executive-hegemonic or presidentially centered system. However, the congress still has a means of frustrating even the president that is most skilled. Although the president expectation or image is as chief legislator that guides congress in activity of law making, the actuality is quite different. The congress decentralized nature, the multiple veto and access points in the process of congressional, the party system that is loosely organized, the independent-entrepreneurial legislators’ mode, and the legislative leadership weakness or collude over presidential leadership and direction (Thurber,. 2013). This implies that president only influence congress at the margins and can be regarded more as facilitators than leaders.  


The law making process in the US includes both the president and the congress. However, the congress contains more power in law formation process compared to the president. While the president is constitutionally given the power to enact a law, this power can be overruled by the congress when the president does not have enough support in the congress. The provision of the veto process were the president has the power to reject a bill and send it back with the reason for his or her objection, the congress can overlook the government reasons and opt to pass the law through two third majority. Although this is regarded hard to attain, its provision shows how the constitution structuring of power with regard to the law formation process can subject the two bodies of governance, in a conflicting relationship.

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