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POLSC332: The Presidency and the Executive Branch

Unit 3: The President and Congress   The president (and the entire executive branch) exists within a system of shared powers and checks and balances with the other major institutions of the federal government. Therefore, in order to fully understand the presidency, one must understand the nature of the relationship between the president and Congress and between the executive and legislative institutions as a whole. To that end, Unit 3 investigates the nature of the shared powers between the president and Congress. It explores the political causes for the (often contentious) relationship between Congress and the president. Unit 3 then provides an examination of some of the key shared powers and governmental interactions between these two branches of government: presidential appointment and senatorial confirmation, treaty creation and ratification, legislation and the presidential veto, congressional oversight of the president and executive branch, and Congress’s impeachment power. Finally, this unit concludes with an analysis of some of the legislative agendas pushed by key presidents in American history.

Unit 3 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take approximately 19.5 hours:

☐   Subunit 3.1: 30 minutes

☐   Subunit 3.2: 4.5 hours

☐   Subunit 3.3: 1 hour

☐   Subunit 3.4: 2 hours

☐   Subunit 3.5: 15 minutes

☐   Subunit 3.5.1: 45 minutes

☐   Subunit 3.5.2: 3 hours

☐   Subunit 3.5.3: 1 hour

☐   Subunit 3.6: 6.5 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to: - discuss the checks and balances that exist between the president and Congress; - explain how differing electoral bases affect political calculations for a president and Congress; - analyze the relationships between recent presidents and Congress; - analyze the presidential appointment and congressional confirmation process; - explain the process of treaty creation and ratification; - analyze how and why executive privilege is used by presidents; - debate the benefits and pitfalls of congressional oversight of the intelligence community; - describe the impeachment process; - explain how the impeachment process is a constitutional check upon the president; - discuss agenda-setting power; and - analyze the historical domestic agendas of former presidents.

3.1 The President and Congress: Checks and Balances   - Reading: eNotes: “Legislative-Executive Checks and Balances” Link: eNotes: “Legislative-Executive Checks and Balances” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read the entire article above. Take special
note of the general manner in which these key institutions of the
federal government interact. Notice the intentional design of the
institutional checks upon one another. This reading will also be
relevant for Unit 4, wherein the nature of the relationship between
the executive and judicial branches of the federal government is
explored.  

 Reading this selection and taking notes should take approximately
30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.2 The President and Congress: The Political Relationship   - Lecture: YouTube: UChannel: Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs: Dr. David Mayhew’s “Congress and the Presidency: Dissonance in Their Electoral Bases?” Link: YouTube: UChannel: Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs: Dr. David Mayhew’s “Congress and the Presidency: Dissonance in Their Electoral Bases?” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Please watch the entire lecture and take notes as
necessary.  

 This lecture is Dr. David Mayhew’s take on the importance and
effects of having a different electoral base for the presidency,
senators, and members of the House of Representatives. Dr. David
Mayhew is the Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale
University.  

 Watching this lecture and taking notes should take approximately 1
hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Lecture: University of Virginia’s Miller Center: Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s “George W. Bush and the United States Congress: Can This Marriage Be Saved?” Link: University of Virginia’s Miller Center: Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s “George W. Bush and the United States Congress: Can This Marriage Be Saved?”(Adobe Flash)

    Also available in:
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    Quicktime

    MP3

    Instructions: Please view the entire lecture. You may click on the link above, or use the media format of your choice (Windows Media Player, Real Player, or Quicktime). You may also choose to listen to the audio of the lecture by clicking the MP3 link above.

    In this lecture, Stolberg discusses the difficulties a president has in working with Congress. Sheryl Gay Stolberg is a White House correspondent for The New York Times.

    Watching this lecture and taking notes should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: University of Virginia’s Miller Center: Nolan McCarty, Sidney Milkis, and Barbara Sinclair’s “The Obama Administration and Congress” Link: University of Virginia’s Miller Center: Nolan McCarty, Sidney Milkis, and Barbara Sinclair’s "The Obama Administration and Congress" (HTML)

    Instructions: Please watch the entire above lecture.

    Studying this lecture and taking notes should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Presidential Initiatives and Congress” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Presidential Initiatives and Congress” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please complete the linked assessment in order to test your mastery of the political and policy interactions between the president and Congress. When you are done, please check your work against The Saylor Foundation’s “Guide to Responding: Presidential Initiatives and Congress” (PDF).

    Completing this assessment should take approximately 1 hour.

3.3 Appointments and Confirmation   - Reading: The Brookings Institution: Burdett Loomis’s “The Senate and Executive Branch Appointments: An Obstacle Course on Capitol Hill?” Link: The Brookings Institution: Burdett Loomis’s “The Senate and Executive Branch Appointments: An Obstacle Course on Capitol Hill?” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the above link and read this report
about the president’s executive branch appointments.  

 One of the most important roles for the president in controlling
the bureaucracy is appointing the leaders of many of the executive
agencies, including the cabinet agencies. In an era of increasing
partisanship, getting appointments approved by Congress can be a
challenge for the president.  

 Reading this selection and taking notes should take approximately
30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: The Brookings Institution: George C. Edwards III’s “Why Not the Best?: The Loyalty-Competence Trade-Off in Presidential Appointments” Link: The Brookings Institution: George C. Edwards III’s “Why Not the Best?: The Loyalty-Competence Trade-Off in Presidential Appointments” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read the entire document. Dr. Edwards’s article talks about the loyalty-competence tradeoff that presidents face when selecting their appointees to the executive branch.

    Reading this selection and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.4 Treaty Creation and Ratification   - Reading: Congressional Research Service: “Treaties and Other International Agreements: The Role of the Senate” Link: Congressional Research Service: “Treaties and Other International Agreements: The Role of the Senate” (PDF)
Instructions: Please click on the link above and read pages 1 to 26 of the article. This article provides a general overview of the process by which treaties are developed and ratified and how this requires the consent of both the president and the Senate.

 Reading this selection and taking notes should take approximately 2
hours.  

 Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain.

3.5 Legislation and the Presidential Veto and Signing Statements   - Reading: David L. Paletz, Diana Owen, and Timothy E. Cook’s American Government and Politics in the Information Age: “Chapter 13: The Presidency” Link: David L. Paletz, Diana Owen, and Timothy E. Cook’s American Government and Politics in the Information Age: “Chapter 13: The Presidency” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please review section 13.2 in the above reading.
Focus especially upon the use of the presidential veto and signing
statements as it affects congressional legislation.  

 Reading this selection and taking notes should take approximately
15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: The textbook above is released under a [Creative
Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share-Alike License
3.0](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/). It is
attributed to David L. Paletz, Diana Owen, and Timothy E. Cook.

3.5.1 Congressional Oversight: Executive Privilege   - Reading: ProPublica: Cora Currier’s “The Facts behind Obama's Executive Privilege Claim” Link: ProPublica: Cora Currier’s “The Facts behind Obama's Executive Privilege Claim” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please read the entire above article on President
Obama’s use of executive privilege.  

 Reading this selection and taking notes should take approximately
45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/). It
is attributed to ProPublica and Cora Currier, and the original
version can be found
[here](http://www.propublica.org/article/the-facts-behind-obamas-executive-privilege-claim).

3.5.2 Congressional Oversight: Intelligence   - Reading: Reading: Congressional Research Service: Fredrick M. Kaiser’s “Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Current Structure and Alternatives” Link: Congressional Research Service: Fredrick M. Kaiser’s “Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Current Structure and Alternatives” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please read the entire above article on congressional
oversight of the activities of the intelligence community.  

 Reading this selection and taking notes should take approximately 2
hours.  

 Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain.
  • Reading: Central Intelligence Agency: James S. Van Wagenen’s “A Review of Congressional Oversight: Critics and Defenders” Link: Central Intelligence Agency: James S. Van Wagenen’s “A Review of Congressional Oversight: Critics and Defenders” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please read the entire article.

    Reading this selection and taking notes should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain.

3.5.3 Congressional Oversight: Impeachment Powers   - Reading: University of Virginia’s Miller Center: Dr. Jeffrey Tulis’s “Impeachment in the Constitutional Order” Link: University of Virginia’s Miller Center: Dr. Jeffrey Tulis’s “Impeachment in the Constitutional Order” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please download the PDF by clicking on the icon next
to “Colloquium Paper,” and read the entire essay, which addresses
Dr. Tulis’s argument for the necessity of impeachment in our
constitutional system.  

 Reading this selection and taking notes should take approximately 1
hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.6 Presidential Domestic Agendas   - Reading: Ramapo College: Wayne Hayes’s "How is the Agenda Set?" Link: Ramapo College: Wayne Hayes’s “How is the Agenda Set?” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read this entire article about how the agenda
is set. Pay particular attention to the manner in which the
president is capable of setting a legislative agenda.  

 Reading this selection and taking notes should take approximately 1
hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.