The power of the president is limited to persuasion 30 markerPresentation Transcript
“I sit here all day trying to persuade people
to do the things they ought to have sense
enough to do without my persuading
them...that‟s all the power s of the president
Vice President – as presiding officer of
the Senate, he has a foothold in Congress (
All of the last 6 VPs have formerly been
members of Congress too).
Cabinet officers – these work in their own
policy related area
Party leaders in Congress – House
Speaker, Majority and Minority leaders in
both houses, whips, committee chairs
phone calls to selected members of
Offer help with legislation that benefit‟s
Offer help with federal/executive
appointments of interest to constituents
Invite members to a meeting/photo op at
Go to Capitol Hill to address a selected group
Offer to campaign for members of his own
can go on national television to a
appeal directly to the people.
This is what President Johnson called
„putting Congress‟s feet to the fire‟- Civil
Rights Act 1964
The President is dependent on Congress for all
legislation and money
Powerful committee chairs, Speaker of the House can
thwart a President‟s agenda if it conflicts with their
Separation of powers means congressmen have their
own mandate , and their willingness to support the
president is more conditional than in a parliamentary
system...”will it aid my own re-election?”.
Even a Congress controlled by his own party may
ignore – e.g. The Bush second term - or defeat – e.g.
the Clinton health care reforms – the president‟s
Consequently the president needs to persuade
members of Congress that support for him is in their
Mandate of the President may be such – e.g.
President Johnson in 1964 – that the president does
not need to persuade Congress to adopt his agenda
Ability of the President to circumvent Congress
through executive orders, executive agreements and
recess appointments (Clinton made a recess
appointment of Bill Lann Lee as Assistant Attorney
General for civil rights, when it became clear that
Lee's strong support of affirmative action would lead
to Senate opposition).
Use of signing statements to implement legislation as
the president directs, sometimes in direct
contravention of Congress‟ expressed intent
If the persuasion fails, the president can veto
In several aspects of foreign policy, the presidency
can act unilaterally (Nixon – Cambodia)
Congress CAN override a
presidents veto...even if it is controlled by
the same party!
2 of Carter‟s vetoes were overriden by a
Democrat controlled Congress. In 1980
Congress passed a bill repealing a $4.62 oil
Later that year Congress also overrode his
veto of a Veteran‟s healthcare bill.