The balance between Congress and the presidency

The balance between Congress and the presidency


There has been confusion about congress and the presidency in the United States. The two bodies are powerful but distinct in that the presidency represents the executive while Congress is the legislative body. The legislative bodies are concerned with making and passing of laws and policies while the presidency gives the executive orders and is the commander in chief of the armed forces who are involved with the signing of treaties with other countries. The legislative body together with the Supreme Court is responsible for ensuring that the presidency performs what he was elected to do by the citizens. The two entities have the power to impeach the president and remove him from power. Just like the presidency, Congress leaders are elected by the citizens at their various states while the president is elected from all the states. Census is conducted every ten years in united states to determine the number of representatives in different states to be sent to the house of representatives.

The concept of the presidency in the united states dates back to the colonial period when the executive powers dwelt with the royal governors. The royal governors were appointed by the king of England to govern each British colony, the powers given to them were; appointment powers, military command, expenditure and lawmaking.  Individuals who had fled the domination of the Royals in Great Britain did not take governors as representatives of the crown. The reign of the royal governors ended when the colonist became independent which degraded the powers of the royal governor. Reforms in New York enabled the citizens to elect the governor I that they could be held accountable and they were given the powers to pardon, execute laws and act as commander in chief of the state militia. The framers after the constitutional convention in Philidelphia agreed that one individual should hold the executive authority.  The framers chose George Washington as the first president of the new nation of united states because he had fought during the revolutionary war.

The president title was obtained from that of college and university leaders; hence the chief executive leader was termed as the president. The establishment of Congress in the United States is documented in the article I of the constitution which describes the structure of the legislative branch of government.  The constitutional convention created two houses the lower house being the House of Representatives and the upper house being the Senate.  Hence the generation of the concept of the bicameral legislature by the framers.  The state population determines the number of representatives to be sent to the House of Representatives. However, the Senate should have two representatives from each state without the consideration of the state population.  The legal and formal requirements for an individual to qualify for membership stipulates that the house members should be at least twenty-five years and the senators should be at least thirty. The representatives and senators should be legal residents of the states from which they are elected. The House of Representatives is elected after every two years while the Senate is elected after six years same as the presidency. Before the first census was conducted the constitution fixed the number of representatives in the House of Representatives to sixty-five. Due to a population increase the number was set at 435 by the statute in 1910.

The provision of the various roles of Congress and presidency outline a contradicting understanding of the functions and activities in the US government. The process of appointing the House of Representatives is mainly dependent on the census. After the census, there are activities according to the constitution which should be done to determine the number of representatives that each state will send to the House of Representatives.  The process of adjusting the number of seats allocated to every state is called apportionment.  After apportionment the state legislature is required to redraw a congressional district to show the population shifts, this mainly ensures that each member represents the same number of residents in Congress. The process of redrawing congressional districts is called redistricting. The provision of this information provides insights into the usual assumption of people that the congressional representatives are usually equally distributed across states. Unlike the general assumption that senators and house representatives have term limits, the document outline that the house representatives and senators can run for reelection as long as they want since unlike the presidency they do not have term limits. The Congress has been given powers by the constitution in that every bill has to pass through the consent of both houses before it is declared a law.  Other powers off both houses include; power to declare war, raise an army and navy, coin money, regulate commerce, establish federal courts and their jurisdiction, set rules of immigration and making all laws which are necessary for carrying into execution preceding powers.

The most challenging issue in the united states is about the formulation of foreign policy. There is confusion on who is responsible for the formulation of the foreign policy between Congress and the president.  The main difficulty has been whether the president is solely responsible for the formulation of the foreign policy or if Congress has legislative rights shape US policy by enacting legislation which offers flexibility to the presidency. The war between Congress and the presidency had existed ever since the post-war period of 1920 when Congress rejected president Wilson’s Versailles treaty. The same constitution which gives Congress the authority to raise an army is the same constitution which declares the president as the commander in chief of the armed forces.  In article 1 section 8 of the constitution legislature are given the powers to raise and support armed forces also article II section 2 of the constitution declares the president as the commander in chief of the armed forces.  The constitution fails to stipulate whether the president or congress has authority over external relations. There is a strong implication that the formulation and implementation of foreign policy is the work of the executive as a practical necessity and as an essential aspect of nationality. Recently President Donald Trump has been faced with the battle between Congress and his presidency concerning the issue of border control. After the mid-term election in Congress, the Democrats won over the Republicans making them the majority in the house. When President Donald Trump brought in the issue of creating a wall in the border, most Democrats rejected the idea and swore not to allow the funding which is needed to support the project.  On February 25, 2019, the house speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Joaquin Castro together with house democrats’ members held a press conference on the need to abolish trump’s declaration of the emergency at the border. When the issue was brought to the house the Democrats worn on the rejection of the construction of the wall by 245 to 182 of the Republicans. Only 13 Republican representatives supported the need to stop the president’s declaration of emergency. If the project will be funded and goes through then, president trump will have tampered with the constitutional powers that have been awarded to Congress. Due to the decision by Congress Trump as sworn to obtain the funds which have been allocated for other functions by the Democrat members and use it to fund the wall. Some Republicans have said that they are ready to vote against the president’s declaration of the state of emergency on the issue and join the Democrat members. Republican Senator Thom Tillis told the Washington post that he initially had backed up trump on border security and he is ready to change his stand mainly because he stands against the bypass of Congress by the executive.

Sixteen states have asked the federal court in California to block the federal government from building a wall along the border between Mexico and the US.  The issue of making the wall in the border has been met with various constitutional challenges; there are cases in courts which aim to stop the construction of the wall.  Landowners and environment and wildlife groups filled cases in Washington D.C courts claiming that the construction of the wall will interrupt their interest.  Despite the denial of many democratic congress members trump went ahead and declared the security issue in the Mexican border a state emergency. The issue has led Congress to question the power that the president has to declare a national emergency.  The core constitutional issue in the courts is whether the president acted unconstitutionally by deciding to move ahead with border construction despite congress refusing to allocate funds for the development of the wall.  The main viewpoint on the issue is the lack of substantial evidence at the border to declare it a national emergency to build a wall at the border. Another constitutional argument is that the president will have violated the constitution concerning the powers of the various branches as outlined by the law.  If the president and other federal agencies go ahead with the construction of the wall, they will have acted above the powers of their offices because of lack of approval on the issue by Congress.  The states of California and New Mexico which share the border with Mexico claims that the construction of the wall will violate federal environmental protection laws for failure to asses of how the development of the wall will affect the environment along and near the path such as plant and animal life.  Hence by constructing the wall, the government will violate federal law that requires federal administrative agencies to obey rules such as the duty to protect the environment.

Basing on the constitution that outlined the duties and the powers of the various branches it is necessary for President Donald Trump to rethink on the issue of constructing a wall at the border. The constitution assigns explicitly the duty of budgetary allocation of funds to the legislative branch which is Congress. The argument by trump that he will unitarily allocate funds from other sectors to fund his project is against the constitutional provision concerning fund allocation. The declaration by trump of the state emergency is unconstitutional basing on the law enacted in 1976 concerning the conditions under which national emergencies can be declared.