The Politics of Shared Power: Congress and the Executive

By Louis Fisher | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
War Powers and Foreign Affairs

During the twentieth century, advocates of presidential power have argued strongly for executive independence in matters occurring outside the U.S. borders. With great force they claim that the Constitution assigns questions of foreign affairs, the use of military force, and diplomacy primarily (if not exclusively) to the chief executive. However, the Constitution does not allocate foreign policy to a single branch. It assigns portions to Congress, to the president, and to the president working jointly with the Senate. The framers deliberately dispersed political functions, including foreign affairs, to avoid concentrating too much power in a single branch.

Critics object that this parceling of authority, while perhaps appropriate for the eighteenth century, makes it impossible to achieve coherence or consistency in foreign policy. However, it could be argued equally well that coherence and consistency are impossible when presidents act rashly, with single-handed ventures, and are forced back into line by public pressures and legislative restrictions. Over the long run, coherence and consistency are more likely when the two branches act jointly to produce foreign policy.

The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war but makes the president the commander in chief; in this way the war power is divided. Although the president commands the armed forces, the Constitution empowers Congress to raise and support armies,

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The Politics of Shared Power: Congress and the Executive
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Preface XI
  • Chapter 1 - Constitutional Underpinnings 3
  • Chapter 2 - President as Legislator 23
  • Chapter 3 - Congress as Administrator 68
  • Chapter 4 - Bureaucracy: Agent of Congress or the President? 106
  • Chapter 5 - The Independent Regulatory Commission: Mahomet's Coffin 146
  • Chapter 6 - War Powers and Foreign Affairs 177
  • Chapter 7 - Budgetary Control 218
  • Notes 257
  • Selected Bibliography 293
  • Index of Cases 299
  • Index 303
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