as General Manager
WHEN the Constitution assigned the legislative power to the Congress and the executive power to the president, it offered no abstract definition of either and demarked no precise boundary between them. Authorizing the government to do things is clearly legislative; doing them is plainly executive. But in between is a vast borderland: how the executive shall go about accomplishing the objectives of the law. The Constitution allocated only a couple of regions of that borderland; it specified that the power to appoint administrative officials is in the executive branch (subject to confirmation by the Senate of the top officials), and the power to appropriate money is in the legislative. Beyond those, the terrain was left to be struggled over.
It was inevitable that the Congress should stake its claim to the maximum authority, taking the position that it has the right to prescribe the manner of program execution in whatever degree of detail it elects. At the outset, the First Congress made one concession--acknowledging the right of the president to remove cabinet members without specific statutory authority. But otherwise it established the precedent of tight control. It created by statute each organizational element of the executive branch, and after the first couple of years settled on the practice of itemizing each office and fixing the salary of every employee. All concerned, including President Washington, appear to have accepted that as the appropriate exercise of the congressional prerogative.
Throughout the nineteenth century, the tight controls established by the earliest Congresses were maintained. If anything, they were tightened. In the never-ending struggle over patronage the legislators often used the power
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Publication information: Book title: The Decline and Resurgence of Congress. Contributors: James L. Sundquist - Author. Publisher: Brookings Institution. Place of publication: Washington, DC. Publication year: 1981. Page number: 37.
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