The Supreme Court has often extended legislative power through a broad interpretation of the necessary and proper clause of the Constitution.
The Constitution limits congressional powers through the protection of individual rights and by the eyes of the other two branches of government, with which Congress shares power.
Our system of checks and balances requires each branch to have the cooperation of the others to exercise its powers.
If the president doesn't sign the bill or veto it, it won't become law, but if both houses of Congress can muster a two-thirds majority, it will.
Congressional oversight of the executive is one of the most important checks on the executive that the Constitution gives to Congress.
Congress needs to be certain that its will is being carried out through hearings and investigations.
When Congress and the White House are controlled by opposite parties, oversight can become a political weapon in the hands of Congress, with Congress keeping the executive on the defensive by requiring it to defend itself against accusations that are frequently made to hamstring that branch.
The administration of the opposite party can go easy on itself just as the Congress can be hard on it.
The Republican House oversight of Russian intervention into the 2016 election was unable to get to the bottom of what the Russian role was because President Trump viewed their charge as implying that his election was illegitimate.
When the Democrats took back control of the House in the fall of 2018, they promised to look at the Russian involvement in the 2016 election, Trump's financial relationship with Russia, and his efforts to hamper the free press by targeting the business interests of the owner of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos
The Democrats have been careful not to mention impeachment in order to not be seen as overreaching.
Congress gives authority to regulatory agencies in the executive branch.
The job of keeping an eye on the agencies can be boring if they do what they are supposed to do.
The agencies can develop bad relationships with those they are supposed to be regulating if Congress doesn't watch.
The Minerals Management Service's failure to adequately police offshore drilling procedures contributed to the ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission's failure to protect us from risky investment practices that resulted in the economic meltdown in late 2008.
The National Environmental Policy Act was routinely violated by regulators seeking bonuses for encouraging offshore oil drilling.
Major presidential appointments, such as cabinet posts, ambassadorships, and the federal courts, must be approved by the Senate.
This is a constitutional duty.
Most presidential appointments have proceeded without incident, but in recent administrations appointments have become more political.
The confirmation powers of the senators can be used to do more than advise on and consent to appointments.
They often tie up appointments because they oppose the nominee on account of his or her ideology or because they want to extract promises and commitments from the president.
The opposing party's senators are quick to object to many of the president's appointees.
What's at stake.
The Senate loses the important norm of cooperation with the president on judicial appointments, setting a dangerous precedent for future appointments under divided government.
The ability of the Senate to block the appointments of presidents is incredibly frustrating, as it prevents agencies and courts from taking care of their business.
When the Senate is not in session, a provision in the constitution allows presidents to make temporary appointments without Senate approval.
The purpose of the recess appointments was to allow presidents to fill vacancies in an era when the Senate might take a long time to convene.
Even when they are not in Washington, the senators keep the Senate in session on a technicality because they want to deny a president the chance to make a recess appointment.
President Obama argued that Congress was in recess when it made several appointments, some of which were challenged in court.
The difference in constituencies is a final built-in source of institutional conflict between Congress and the president.
Presidents look at each policy in terms of a national constituency and their own policy program, whereas members of Congress take a different view.
Clean air may be a national priority for the president.
If a clean air bill is passed, some members of Congress might have to close factories in their districts because it would not be profitable to bring them up to emissions standards, or shut down soft coal mines because the bill would kill the market for high-sulfur coal.
Within an era of hyperpartisanship, opposition members can get their bases excited just by opposing the president's agenda.
Public policy looks very different from the perspective of congressional offices than it does from the Oval Office.
Congress makes the laws and the courts interpret them, that's what the constitutional relationship between the federal courts and Congress is all about.
The power of judicial review is not mentioned in the Constitution, but the Supreme Court has the job of deciding if laws and procedures are consistent with the Constitution.
The judiciary is independent of the other branches, but this selfsufficiency is only a matter of degree.
Congress is charged with setting up the lower federal courts and determining the salaries for judges, with the interesting constitutional provision that a judge's salary cannot be cut.
Congress has the power to decide which courts hear which cases.
Congress exerts power over the courts by passing laws that limit the courts' discretion to rule or impose sentences as judges think best.
In the 1980s, Congress passed strict drug laws that required mandatory sentences for offenders, but judges could not sentence someone for less than the minimum time that Congress defined in legislation.
Congress can remove the ability of federal courts and the Supreme Court to interpret constitutional issues by trying to amend the Constitution.
The Constitution gives both the House and the Senate great power, but it is done in a backhanded way known as checks and balances.
The Senate and the House have the same lawmaking functions, but they have to approve legislation.
They are checked by the courts and the president.
The legislature can't operate without the cooperation of the other two branches if it can demonstrate unusual internal strength and consensus.
There are checks and balances between the executive and judicial branches.