The American Presidency was invented in 1787, and it was conferred the appointment,
administrative, diplomatic, and commander in chief of the United States of America’s defense
forces duties. In Professor Clinton Rossiter’s words, the President is the Constitutional Chief
of State, the Chief Diplomat, Chief Legislator, Chief Executive, Commander in Chief, the
Voice of the People, and the prosperity manager. 1 The establishment of the Executive power
in America was mainly a departure from the already existing form of governance. The
Confederation was primarily based on the Articles of Confederation, which had been quite
effective in serving the different states of America. 2 The Articles of Confederation did not
provide for the Presidency; instead, the person elected by the members of the Continental
Congress would automatically assume the Office of the President. 3
The Articles of Confederation also acted as the Constitution, and they provided the governing
provisions and laws that were adhered to. 4 Such laws included the provisions on the
declaration and pursuit of war. 5 The Confederation came into existence in 1781 and assumed
the status of a union without power. This was attributed to the fact that the national
government had been given executive powers under the existing Articles of Confederation.
Still, no executive had been put in place to support the national Executive created. 6 Against
this backdrop, the framers of the Executive Power guided by the need to have a representative
government and one founded on republicanism created the Executive that the Presidency

1 Kuic, Vulkan. “Theory and Practice of the American Presidency.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 4/5 (1974):
54–63. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27547298.
2 Cronin, Thomas E. “On the Origins and Invention of the Presidency.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 17, no. 2
(1987): 229–35. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40574447
3 Harrington, Alexandra R., “Presidential Powers Revisited: An Analysis of the Constitutional Powers of the
Executive and Legislative Branches Over the Reorganization and Conduct of the Executive Branch.” Willamette
Law Review, Vol. 44 (2007), p. 63, Available at SSRN: <
4 The Articles of Confederation, The Avalon Project At Yale Law School, available at
5 Ibid.
6 Rakove, Jack N., and Susan Zlomke. “James Madison and the Independent Executive.” Presidential Studies
Quarterly 17, no. 2 (1987): 293–300. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40574452.

would head. In so doing, the drafters significantly relied on political theorists such as John
Locke, Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Montesquieu to debate and conceptualize the executive
power that they sought to create. 7
Following the establishment of the Presidency, a new constitution was devised and is heavily
relied on established provisions and precedents incorporated in states’ constitutions. The
Constitution advocated for an independent Executive, Judiciary, and Legislature which would
cohesively work together to serve the citizens of the United States of America. Constitution
of the United States of America provides under Article II section 1 that the Executive power
shall be vested on the President of the United States of America. Further, the provision adds
that the term of the Presidency and the vice president shall be four years. Section 2 provides
that the President shall be the commander in chief of the Army and the Navy of the United
States. Following the Senate’s advice, the Senate nominates ambassadors, judges, and public
ministers and makes necessary appointments in government. 8
This work seeks to discuss Executive Power paying critical emphasis on the evolution of
executive power in the President of the United States. It seeks to discuss the various
fundamental factors that have contributed to the evidenced rise in the Presidents’ Executive
Power, including pop culture, the media, and the President’s access to and control of
information, among other factors. Further, this work interrogates Congress as an institution
and its roles and responsibilities in enhancing the necessary checks and balances to ensure
that the executive power is exercised for and on behalf of all Americans and not individuals.
It is on this preceding that this work is divided into different parts that seek to discuss and
explore the Rise of Executive Power in the President of the United States. The first part of
this work is the introduction. The second part of this work is the background and the Rise of
Executive Power in the President of the United States. The third part discusses the theories

7 Supra note 2 p 230.
8 The Constitution of the United States of America, 1789.

behind the Executive Power, the Presidency. The fourth part discusses the various factors that
have contributed to the rise of Executive Power in the President. The fifth part interrogates
the role of Congress as a political institution in the United States. The sixth part of this paper
uses former presidents of the United States of America as case studies to instances where the
President has used his veto to perform or direct the performance of various undertakings
without the consent or approval of Congress. Under this category, factors such as executive
orders and the rise of a president’s popularity will provide a significant starting point to
understand this concept. The seventh part of this paper will constitute the generated findings
and provide recommendations necessary to improve the existing situation. The conclusion
forms the last part of this research paper as it sums up the critical discussions made in this
Background of the Rise of Executive Power in the President of the United States
The founders of the United States nation intended to create a presidency that was subject to
checks and balances owing to their experience with colonial governments. 9 The founders
relied on their knowledge of politics to arrive at two truths and reconcile them to form the
Presidency that would benefit all Americans. The first truth acknowledged was “lack of
power corrupts, and absolute lack of power destroys the political community” the second
truth was that “men tend to be corrupted by power and absolute power corrupts them.” 10 The
delegates agreed on the creation of electoral colleges and the establishment of the Presidency
in which most executive powers were to be entrusted to the Presidency but subject to checks
and balances. 11 The establishment of the Presidency led to George Washington’s selection as
the first President of the United States of America. Consequently, the Presidency was

9 Supra note 2.
10 Supra note 1.
11 Fred Greenstein. 2010. “The Policy-Driven Leadership of James K. Polk: Making the Most of a Weak
Presidency,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 40, No. 4: 725–33.

construed to be dual in character where the President was both the head of government and
the head of state. 12
The Presidency established in the 1700s imposed limitations on the office of the President
and constantly created disputes as to the balance of power between the Executive headed by
the President and Congress. Notwithstanding the limitations imposed on the Presidency,
presidents who got elected expanded their formal and informal powers, which sought to
perform and administer their duties effectively. 13 The Presidency in the 1700s and the
Presidency in the 21 st century are very different. In the 21 st century, the President’s
presidential power and war powers have been significantly expanded over time. This is
attributed mainly to the President’s access to and control information. 14
Alexis de Tocqueville noted that in the 18 th and 19 th centuries, the executive branch in the
United States of America was inferior to and dependent on the legislature. He noted that the
existing weakness or inferiority of the Executive in America was attributed to the existing
circumstances and not the laws governing the state. 15 Currently, the executive powers
override the legislature’s powers, especially on national security and foreign affairs. The
President can use his authority to maneuver and make decisions even where Congress is
opposed to such a decision.
To provide a systematic form of checks and balances, the founders believed that the
legislative arm of the government was the most powerful, thus the need to divide it into two
branches to avoid it overwhelming the other arms of government. In so doing, the founders
envisioned a unitary executive that would not be overwhelmed by the legislative arm. 16
Theories behind the rise of the executive power of the President
12 Ibid.
13 Glen S. Krutz and Jeffrey S. Peake. Treaty Politics and the Rise of Executive Agreements: International
Commitments in a System of Shared Powers. (University of Michigan Press 2009).
14 Ibid.
15 Henry Reeve text and Phillips Bradley, Democracy in America (New York, 1945), I, 124 ff.
16 Martin S. Flaherty, “The Most Dangerous Branch,” Yale L.J 105 (1996). 1725, 1816-17; Abner S. Greene,
“Checks and Balances in an Era of Presidential Lawmaking,” U. Chi. L. Rev 61 (1994) 123, 125.

Professor Rossiter explains that the Presidency is an office that has continuously experienced
many changes and expansion of duties since its establishment by the founding fathers of the
United States of America. 17 He advances two theories to support this proposition. In his first
theory, he argues that the more deeply a nation gets involved in the affairs of other states, the
stronger its executive power grows. 18 The second theory advanced by Professor Rossiter is
that great emergencies experienced in a constitutional state not only bring the rise of
executive power but build up the prestige of a country. He adds that the democratic nature of
the United States has vastly contributed to the rise of the executive power in that there is no
limit to what the President is allowed to do as long as he performs the act mainly or entirely
for a democratic means.
Domestic stresses and foreign involvement demanding to have a common reference point
have also over the years are theories that have contributed to the rise in executive power. 19
Domestic stresses emerge from the universal need to have a unitary identity that symbolizes
what Americans stand for. The Presidency through the President thus provides a visible
identity to the people.
Factors that have contributed to the rise of the Executive power of the President
Expansion of the Executive Branch
The Executive branch of the United States government consists of the President, the Vice
President, the CabinetCabinet, the President’s advisors, and various departments and
agencies. The power of the Executive branch is vested in the President of the United States.
The leading role of the executive branch is to implement and enforce the laws written and
enacted by Congress. These duties are expressly spelled out in Article II of the Constitution,

17 Kuic, Vulkan. “Theory and Practice of the American Presidency.” The Review of Politics 23, no. 3 (1961):
307–22. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1405437.
18 Ibid.
19 Supra note 1.

which states that the President has an obligation to enforce and is responsible for executing
the laws formulated by Congress. 20
The President is the head of the federal bureaucracy. This executive branch has grown and
continues to expand compared to the executive branch of the 18 th century. This growth has
granted the Presidency enormous powers, such as leading the federal bureaucracy. Therefore,
it is involved in setting pollution standards for private entities, creating food and product
safety standards, creating policies that oversee and regulate the financial and banking
industries, the President enforcing the federal criminal law, and regulating and enforcing
labor relations within the state. 21 The expansion of the federal bureaucracy, which falls under
the Executive Branch, has predominantly granted more and more powers to the President. 22
The President’s Access to and Control Information
The Executive is a branch of government with vast powers compared to the other branches of
government. These powers include the power to access and control information. The
executive branch has higher information-gathering capabilities and intelligence agencies,
technical expertise, and the military that collect and access information. 23 In the current
world, where information is essential, information is power. The ability of the executive
branch to access, collect, analyze, distill and disseminate information places it at a higher
advantage compared to other branches of government such as Congress. 24 The ability of the
Executive power to collect a wide range of information, in turn, causes other branches such
as Congress to rely on it to access information. This factor, therefore, contributes to the rise
of executive power and the President’s power as well as he is the head of the Executive.
Pop Culture and the rise of the Executive Power
20 The Constitution of the United States of America, 1789.
21 Peter L. Strauss, “The Place of Agencies in Government: Separation of Powers and the Fourth Branch,”
Colum. L. Rev. 84 (1984) pp 573, 587-91.
22 Ibid.
23 Neal Devins, “Congressional-Executive Information Access Disputes: A Modest Proposal – Do Nothing,”
Admin. L. Rev 48 (1996) pp 109, 111-16.
24 Ibid.

Pop culture is recognized as the popular attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, customs, tastes, culture
that define people. It mainly involves the social aspects and the daily interactions of people. 25
Pop culture provides a medium through which large masses can hold similar beliefs,
attitudes, and behaviors that are believed to be acceptable at held in high regard in the group.
Essentially, pop culture relies on the foods people eat, the language, and how they talk, e.g., it
encompasses the use of slang, the fashion, dressing styles, and rituals that people partake in.
The media plays a significant role in informing pop culture as it enables the sharing, transfer,
and communication of commonly held beliefs and acceptable standards in people’s daily
lives. 26 Other factors that contribute to the rise in pop culture include popular music, the
internet, social media, books, video games, television and advertisements, and films. 27
Regarding the political sphere, pop culture has influenced the rise of the executive power
where it is a commonly held belief that the President is the center of national power, and
immediately after he occupies the office of the President, he becomes a symbol and represent
the nation and what it stands for. 28 This belief has consequently led to the belief that national
power directly affects the powers of any incumbent president. As a result, the citizenry is
deeply invested in any individual elected as the President, and this belief makes the
popularity of the individual rise predominantly after the election.
Pop Culture also provides a view that the President is all-powerful. 29 The ability of a
President to use popular culture to his advantage increases his Executive Power and the
power to sway the citizenry. 30 Presidents such as Barack Obama managed to understand pop

25 Jutta Weldes And Christina Rowley So, “How Does Popular Culture Relate To World Politics?” Apr 29, 2015,
26 Ibid.
27 Ibid.
28 William P. Marshall “Eleven Reasons Why Presidential Power Inevitably Expands And Why It Matters”
https://www.bu.edu/law/journals-archive/bulr/documents/marshall.pdf February 2, 2022.
29 Ibid.
30 Supra note 25.

culture and align it with its advantage. Other presidents who also tapped into pop culture
include Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump.
The Media and the Rise of Executive Power
The institution of the Presidency has gained a lot of magnification and coverage from the
media. This coverage depicts and places the Presidency and the office of the President as the
center and focal reference of the national power. 31 The media coverage has, in turn, led to the
notion that the President is perceived as the symbol of the nation and any information he
gives represents the stand of the specific nation that he represents. This way, the President
can easily influence the political agenda in the nation compared to any other institution or
individual. This advantage granted to the Executive Branch through the President acts as a
detriment to other branches of government who may not enjoy as much media coverage like
that enjoyed by the President. 32 Social media and the internet are great communication
avenues and possess the power to change the values, political dynamics, the election process,
and diplomacy. Over the years, with the increase in technology and access to information, a
president who can tap into and influence the media, including social media, increases the
executive powers and his powers as the President. 33
Constitutional Indeterminacy of the President and the Rise of Executive Power
Constitution indeterminacy is considered as the main reason promoting the rise of the
executive power. At the formation and construal of the Constitution of the United States, the
founders and framers intended to create a legislature, judiciary, and Executive that were
independent of each other but interrelated in the service delivery in the country. 34 In so doing,
the drafters of the Constitution imposed the duties and obligations of the President under
Article II of the Constitution of the United States of America. However, the duties stipulated

31 Supra note 28.
32 Ibid.
33 Ibid.
34 Supra note 28.

under the Article were not specific, and thus they provide room for the duties to grow and
increase as the nation grows. 35
Article II grants the Executive power to the President. Additionally, it recognizes the
President as the Commander in Chief of the Army and the Navy of the United States.
However, this provision is not explicit whether the executive power granted to the President
forms the source of the President’s substantive power and whether being the commander of
the forces gives the President the powers to order troops into armed conflict. 36 Further, the
Constitution grants the President the power to interpret and enforce the law. As the head of
government, the President is not subordinate to the Judiciary and can interpret the law even
where the interpretation conflicts with the federal court’s interpretation.
The court in Marbury v Madison 37 expressed that it is the duty of the judiciary branch of
government through the federal courts to say what the law is. The court, however, noted that
saying what the law does not make it so. 38 The lack of clear-cut duties of the President in the
Constitution has allowed the President’s adoption of other duties, including to act in times of
national emergency, national crisis, and military action, provided the actions taken were
meant to serve the national interest. 39 This factor has dramatically led to the rise of Executive
Power and the scope of duties and powers available to an incumbent President.
Precedential Effects of the Executive Branch and the Rise of Executive Power
As earlier indicated in this work, Alexis de Tocqueville notes that the power conferred in and
exercised by the Executive Branch of government is not determined by the existing laws at
the time but rather, the existing circumstances. On this backdrop, the precedential effects of

35 Ibid.
36 Stephen M. Griffin “Executive Power In The U.S. Constitution: An Overview” (2014) Tulane Public Law
Research Paper No. 14-3 Available at < https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2422927#>.
37 Marbury v Madison (1803) 5 U.S 137, 177.
38 Ibid.
39 Supra note 28.

the Executive Branch have immensely contributed to the rise in the Executive Power in
consequent regimes since the inception of the Presidency in 1787 to date.
The use of presidential powers by former presidents provides a reference point to future
presidents and, at times, affects their decision-making. For instance, in times of war and
national emergencies, presidents have considerable powers to exercise for and on behalf of
their citizenry. President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus acting in his official mandate as
the President to take charge of the current times. 40 He also authorized military trials for
civilians. Such acts, which are seen to stray from the constitutionally imposed duties, expand
the duties and powers a president has access to.
Pivotal to note is that the actions undertaken by sitting presidents, especially during national
crises or emergencies, rapidly increase the Executive power and the President’s powers since
the people are more focused on winning the war, overcoming the crises than they are on the
breach of constitutionally imposed duties. This ultimately advances the power available to the
President and the Executive Branch for future heads of states in the nation. It is imperative to
note that the power vested on any incumbent president of the United States is not explicitly
dependent on the provisions of Article II but rather on acceptable norms that have been
created and practiced over the two centuries since the inception of the Presidency.
The Control of the Administrative State by the President in the Rise of Executive Power
The federal administrative agency is tasked with regulating the banking industry, setting food
and product safety standards, and formulating pollution guidelines for private entities. For a
very long the federal administrative bureaucracy served as a separate agency from the three
branches of government. However, the Presidential institution had considerably gained access
and controlled the federal bureaucracy mainly to advance the presidents’ political agendas.

40 Ibid.

Examples of presidents who extensively tapped into controlling the federal bureaucracy are
President Clinton and President George W. Bush. They used directives and other measures
available to the federal bureaucracy to advance and push their agendas. 41 As previously noted
in the factor precedential effects of the Executive Branch, these acts will act as future
reference points to future presidents since the control of the federal administrative
bureaucracy adds to their presidential powers. 42 President Obama also used the Executive
power to facilitate the adoption and interpretation of various statutes to favor the affordable
healthcare promise and agenda made do the citizens during his campaigns.
The Military and Intelligence agencies and the Rise of Executive Power
Under Article II, the United States of America Constitution provides that the President is the
Commander in Chief and the Head of the Executive Branch. Consequently, he heads and
controls one of the most powerful militaries globally and administrative agencies such as the
National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency. The power to head the
military and these agencies add to the already existing powers of the President, providing him
with efficient, non-transparent capabilities which they might use to their advantage to further
their political agendas or to diminish their political rivals. 43 The growth and technological
advancement of the agencies and the military are equivalent to the growth and expansion of
the President’s powers. 44
The use of the military and intelligence agencies has been cited as one of the valuable factors
presidents exert their power over to obtain results in their favor. For instance, President
Clinton was alleged to have used or ordered the bombing of the terrorist bases in
Afghanistan, a move calculated to shift the attention from the Lewinsky scandal. Similarly,
President Nixon was accused of using the Federal Bureau of Investigation against his

41 Supra note 28.
42 Ibid.
43 Supra note 28.
44 Ibid.

political enemies by ordering investigations on them. These acts of political mischief prove
that the exercise of Executive Powers by the President can be used to subvert the visions of a
democratic nation.
Additionally, through the exercise of his executive power and as the head of the military, the
President may order and direct the military to go into war even in circumstances where
Congress has denied such involvement. This emanates from the notion that the President is
not subordinate to the legislative branch of government and may proceed to act even where
Congress has not duly advised or given consent.
The need for the Government to Act Expeditiously and the Rise of Executive Power
The Presidency envisioned and created by the founders in 1787 has long been outlived with
the changing times and rising needs. This means that a President in the 21 st century has to
make decisions and undertake decisions expeditiously compared to the 18 th Century
President. The increase in technology and the information era has made the world a global
village where nations are prone to get attacked from every side at any time. Situations that
require the President include armed conflict, war, national emergencies, and disasters of
national crises affecting the livelihood of the citizenry at large. When the President considers
the existence of imminent harm to their nation, they may expeditiously direct the undertaking
of safety measures to protect the nation’s welfare.
The increased risk and speed of warfare in the current world requires an institution to make
expeditious decisions. That institution is the Presidency, as Congress would take longer to
decide on a similar issue. 45 An example of a situation where the President acted expeditiously,
overriding the decision-making power of the Congress was directing the troops to war in
Vietnam and Iraq. According to Congress, this move was directed at endangering the lives of
the troops. This factor of the need of the government to act expeditiously in times of war,

45 Supra note 28.

armed conflict, national disasters, emergencies, and crises is additionally one of the factors
that promote the Executive Powers and the Presidential powers. This is owed to the fact that
desperate times require expeditious decision-making, and who is in a better position to make
decisions expeditiously than the incumbent President?
This part has discussed factors that have affected and promoted the President’s Executive
power in the United States. It acknowledges that the Constitution does not extinguish the
roles and powers of any President and that any sitting president can usurp power from other
sources where he might exercise the powers unilaterally without the consent or advice from
Congress. Whereas this might seem to subvert the rule of law, the Constitution does not
prevent such undertakings, and it does not make insubordinate the Presidency to other
branches of government.
Executive Orders
Executive orders are also one of the factors that have immensely contributed to the rise of
executive power in the President of the United States. Executive Orders are Presidential
directives issued by the President that establish policies in the country, reorganize the
agencies in the executive branch, and alter administrative and legislative policies. 46 Executive
orders also have the effects of affecting how legislation is interpreted and implemented in the
country. 47 Presidents usually tend to rely on executive orders where they seek to make
decisions unilaterally, especially where they lack the support and consent of Congress.
In a later section illustrating a case study of presidents of the United States and how they
have contributed to the rise in executive power, executive orders gain importance as the
alternative that most of the presidents have turned to when they lack the support of the

46 Mayer, Kenneth R. “Executive Orders and Presidential Power.” The Journal of Politics 61, no. 2 (1999):
445–66. https://doi.org/10.2307/2647511.
47 Ibid.

The Polarized two-party system and the Rise of Executive Power
America has two major political parties. These are the Democrats and the Republicans. A
President can come from any of these two political parties. It is to the advantage of any
President to have his political party enjoying a majority of numbers in Congress. This is
essential in helping the President pass legislative policies, particularly those he promised to
the public during presidential campaigns. 48
The polarization of political parties has indeed brought about the separation of parties to the
sought constitutional doctrine of separation of powers. Consequently, a President who lacks
the support of Congress has most of his legislative policies declined by Congress. This results
in the President using executive orders that alter the interpretation and implementation of
various statutes and laws to enable the President to perform his objectives. 49
It is cumbersome for a President whose political party controls Congress to hold the President
accountable through checks and balances. This is because of a conflict of interest to support
one from the party or criticize the President’s decisions and actions. Therefore, the
polarization of parties has been a contributory factor in the Rise of Executive Power in the
President. 50
The Department of Justice and the Rise of Executive Power
The department of justice and its office of legal counsel are the legal authorities tasked with
advising the President as to concerns such as the scope of executive and presidential powers. 51
They are the final authorities regarding offering advice to the President, and they provide
broad interpretations that pave room for the exercise of executive power. As a result, the
department of justice ends up acting as a judge of the last result on its authority. 52

48 Supra note 28.
49 Ibid p 519.
50 Ibid.
51 Supra note 28 p 511.
52 Ibid.

The President is in charge of appointing the Attorney General who heads the department of
justice. A president may use this appointment power to ensure he appoints an Attorney
General who will align with his plan. For instance, President Kennedy appointed his brother
as the Attorney General and the head of the department of justice. In contrast, President
Nixon appointed his campaign manager as the Attorney General. This means that the
appointing presidents also can remove any of the appointees from office, including the
Attorney General. This makes the Attorney General and the department of justice have
personal loyalty to the President, impeding their primary duty, which is to advise the
President. 53
Albeit challenging, some Attorney Generals are dedicated to promoting the rule of law and
safeguarding the Constitution. An example is Attorney General Edward Bates, who served
under President Lincoln’s administration pointed out that the primary obligation of the
department of justice was to uphold the law and resist all internal and external pressures
subjected to the department. 54
Notably, a department of justice that is susceptible to the influence of the President
contributes to the rise of executive power of the President.
The Congress and the Rise of Executive Power
The U.S. Congress is the legislative branch of the federal government that makes the laws
governing the nation. The Congress comprises two houses, the House of Representatives and
the Senate. The House of Representatives is the lower body, while the Senate is the upper
body. The founders of the nation and the framers of the U.S. Constitution crafted the
Constitution 1787. They created the Congress under Article I to replace the Congress of the
Confederation in the performance of legislative functions. Article I of the United States
Constitution expressly provides that all legislative powers are vested in the U.S. Congress. 55

53 Ibid.
54 Ibid.

The Constitution also imposes obligations and powers on Congress to check the President’s
actions and represent the citizens of the United States of America.
Constitutions are not crafted or written in a vacuum. Instead, they seek to represent and
uphold a society’s beliefs, ethos, and values. 56 Similarly, the United States of America
Constitution is a living document adopted over 200 years ago. Up to date, it forms the basis
of democracy in the country and the government.
The History of the Establishment of the U.S. Congress dates back to the British Colonies and
the war of independence, which led to the birth of the United States after they acquired
independence from Britain. Consequently, the states formed the Confederation and the
Articles of Confederation as each state sought to retain its independence and power. 57 The
Confederation was centered under John Locke’s social contract theory, where citizens
surrendered their power to a shared pool, the government that in turn used its power to
protect its citizens. Having experienced the British rule, states under the Confederation were
reluctant in forming a central position such as the Presidency for fear of abuse of power as
the Monarchs had done. 58
The need to have a working system of government in the states under the Confederation
consequently prompted the enactment of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, which established
provisions and principles such as separation of powers, and checks and balances aimed at
preventing any abuse of power by any branch or institution of government.
The Powers and Responsibilities of the Congress
Legislative powers
Legislation is the primary responsibility bestowed upon Congress. The Constitution has
spelled out this mandate under Article I. For any bill to be recognized as a law in the United
55 The United States of America Constitution, 1789 Article 1, sec 1.
56 English, Ross M. “Origins and Development of Congress.” In The United States Congress, 1–15. Manchester
University Press, 2003. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt155jb28.5.
57 Ibid.
58 Ibid.

States, it must be asserted and passed by a majority vote in both houses; the House of
Representatives and the Senate. The doctrine of separation of powers, checks, and balances
applies to all branches of government, including Congress. This ensures that Congress
performs its duties within the confines of the Constitution of the United States. Once
Congress has passed a bill, the Bill is sent to the President within ten working days, and the
Bill becomes law after the President signs it. Through the exercise of his veto, the President
can also return the Bill to Congress, thus preventing the Bill from becoming law. However,
the Constitution stipulates that Congress is the branch of government-mandated to legislate,
and the decision of Congress can override the veto power of the President. 59
Oversight powers
Congress is acting as the police authority that checks the actions played by the Executive.
The Senate is the house tasked to check the appointments made by the President in the
CabinetCabinet, ambassadorial roles, and the courts. Further, the Senate is tasked to approve
the presidents’ treaties entered into. Focal to note is that the Treaties signed by the President
only come into effect if the two-thirds in the Senate approve them. 60
As part of its oversight duties, Congress is responsible for removing a president from office.
The House of Representatives is mandated to impeach a president guilty of ambiguous
crimes. If the House of Representatives impeaches a President, then the Senate is tasked to
try the President for the crimes he is accused of. If the Senate passes to remove a President by
a two-thirds majority, it is resolved, and the President through Congress is removed from
Examples of circumstances where Congress has upheld its powers of oversight, checks, and
balances include; Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, who attempted to

59 Ibid.
60 Ibid.

expand their diplomatic influence by creating business monopolies. Congress disregarded
these attempts as they were an intrusion of the Constitutional roles of the Congress. 61
How the Congress has promoted the Rise of Executive Power
The last part of this work demonstrates that none of the three branches of government is
subordinate to the other. Additionally, it has demonstrated that the intention of the drafters of
the Constitution and the founding fathers was to have institutions that were subject to checks
and balances to avoid the possibility of any abuse of power. Congress has special
Congressional Committees that perform the watchdog role seriously in the state. Each
committee adopts its style in oversight. One criticism directed at congressional committees is
that they approach the problems with a firefighter approach rather than a systematic
surveillance style of oversight. 62
Foreign policy
Foreign policy is one of the areas in which Congress is seen to play a dominant role in the
Executive’s oversight. 63 The foreign policy mainly focuses on military action and calling
troops into war. One of the duties imposed on Congress is to control the funding of the armed
forces. Congress also has the power to declare which war is entered into. However, this work,
when discussing “the need of the Government to Act Expeditiously” as a factor promoting the
rise of executive power, noted that when confronted with national emergencies, crises, or
war, the President has the mandate to decide as opposed to the Congress which would take
longer to deliberate on a similar matter.
In the past, the President’s power as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and the
mandate of the Congress to fund the military have more often than not ended up with the
President exercising his veto against the Congress. It is imperative to note that where a

61 Ibid.
62 English, Ross M. “President and Congress.” In The United States Congress, 120–42. Manchester University
Press, 2003. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt155jb28.11.
63 Ibid.

President enjoys vast popularity, the Congress is less likely to oppose any military action
authorized by the President for fear of becoming unpopular among their respective
constituents. Although the concept of war has been outdated, it serves as an example of how
Congress has promoted the rise of Executive Power. An example is when Congress shirked
its powers in the Vietnam War through the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, therefore, allowing
President Johnson to pursue the war as he wished. 64
Legislative leadership
This work has been focal to note that the legislative function in the U.S. is bestowed upon the
Congress by the Constitution of the United States. The founding fathers and the drafters of
the Constitution acknowledged the President’s role in legislation. However, this role was
restricted to an advisory role as Congress retained the legislative authority. 65 The tenure of
Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 saw a shift where he introduced his ‘New Deal’ strategy that
sought to bring changes to the already crippling economy and unemployment in the nation. 66
The President undertook the legislative role, and during his first 100 days in office, he
formulated legislative proposals adopted by the largely democratic-dominated Congress. 67
This move by President Franklin D. Roosevelt provided a precedent for future Presidents
who, during their campaigns, promised a change in the diplomatic policies in the nation
despite the Executive branch having to authority to legislate in the country. The Presidents
promise to bring fundamental changes in domestic policies and introduce new laws such as
education, welfare, and the environment and healthcare sectors. 68
The ability of a President to convince and obtain support from Congress has been a
significant factor that has led to the rise of Executive Power. President Lyndon B. Johnson
was known for his persuasive skills, where most of his legislative proposals were passed by
64 Ibid.
65 Ibid p 127.
66 Ibid p 128.
67 Ibid.
68 Ibid.

Congress. Presidents such as Jimmy Carter, who lacked vast knowledge of Washington
politics, suffered a detriment since they could hardly influence Congress into passing their
legislative policies. President Ronald Regan largely benefitted from former members of the
Congress and Capitol Hill staffers who advised him on how to maneuver and obtain support
in the Congress. 69
As demonstrated in this part, the rise of Executive power in the President does not stand in
isolation. Various factors come into play to facilitate and promote the rise in Executive
Power. For instance, in Legislative leadership, a President who enjoys substantial public
backing or popularity will more likely have his policies passed by Congress than a President
who lacks a huge public backing. The President, especially after an election, enjoys political
capital because the members of Congress know that their decisions against a popular
President could be detrimental to their political careers. 70
An example is President Clinton’s new administration which became unpopular after
announcing the ban on gay men and women serving the armed force. This brought about a lot
of controversy, and he had to change the position and compromise on a don’t ask, don’t tell
policy. As a result of his diminished popularity, it became harder for President Clinton’s
legislative policies to pass in Congress. On the other hand, as earlier pointed out, President
Ronald Reagan used his popularity and honeymoon stage to the very end, enabling him to
actively take charge of the legislative leadership leading to the rise in Executive Power.
A Case Study of Past Presidents and how they contributed to the Rise in Executive
Executive power has been on the rise, and the most outstanding reason is that the Presidency
itself has sought to increase its powers and the powers of the Executive. The other factor that
has contributed to the rise of Executive Power is the willingness of Congress to delegate its

69 Ibid p 130.
70 Ibid.

powers, some of its duties and responsibilities to the Executive. This section explores the
different presidencies of presidents who served in the United States. It evaluates how the
presidents’ actions or failures have contributed to the rise in Executive Power experienced
today. It also focuses on the different themes that have contributed and helped the presidents
usurp Executive Power creating presidents for future presidents in the nation.
President John F. Kennedy
At his inauguration as the 35 th President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy
moved the masses through a speech that his inauguration marked a celebration for the people
of America. He implored the Americans to ask what they could do for their country and not
what America could do for them. At the time of his swearing-in, America was facing hunger
and disease, and his speech of a better America not only served as a rallying cry but a speech
of rededication. To meet the existing challenges before his Presidency, John F. Kennedy
expanded the power of the Presidency, particularly the foreign affairs power. This move
supported the already increasing powers of the President in foreign affairs introduced by
President Theodore Roosevelt’s administration. This, as was later evidenced, has created a
precedent in allowing presidents to take charge of the foreign affairs docket in the country,
thus increasing the Executive Power. 71
President Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford’s Presidency is proof that foreign policy and the decision to go into war solely
remains in the Chief Executive’s hands. In 1975, Ford directed U.S. troops to liberate
American seamen who Cambodia’s Communist government had seized. Ford acted on his
motive and did not consult Congress in his decision. Later, he would term the War Powers
Act as having no meaningful and substantive restrictions on a president’s power. 72

71 Mayer, Kenneth R. “Executive Orders and Presidential Power.” The Journal of Politics 61, no. 2 (1999):
445–66. https://doi.org/10.2307/2647511.
72 Ibid.

At Legal writing experts, we would be happy to assist in preparing any legal document you need. We are international lawyers and attorneys with significant experience in legal drafting, Commercial-Corporate practice and consulting. In the last few years, we have successfully undertaken similar assignments for clients from different jurisdictions. If given this opportunity, The LegalPen will be able to prepare the legal document within the shortest time possible. You can send us your quick enquiry ( here )