Jasmine Farrier

in Congressional Ambivalence

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780813192628
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135496 | DOI:

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Emphasizing public legislative history and rhetoric, it can be argued that Congress has suffered from an existential crisis revealed in cycles of ambivalence, where members first delegate power, then appear to regret the decision and attempt to nibble back power in various ways, and then finally, months or years later, opt to delegate even more. However, there are moments of institutional cohesion that show Congress can indeed summon or at least defend its own institutional expertise, resources, and power to rival the president's. In contrast to Georeg W. Bush's legislative style of centralization and disrespect for Congress as an institution, President Barack Obama's staff and cabinet connections to Congress at all levels so far have shown an executive strategy of deference. Nevertheless, there remains the larger question whether Congress will ever forge a high-enough profile to counter any president's omnipresence in American politics or instead be relegated permanently to secondary status regardless of the imperfections of executive-driven policy of any era.

Keywords: Congress; ambivalence; delegation of power; power; institutional balance; George W. Bush; Barack Obama; American politics

Chapter.  3176 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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