Restraining Imperial Presidency

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Restraining the Imperial Presidency

The “imperial” presidency began with the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. With his presidency, the president began to establish the legislative agenda and hold supreme authority over the creation of budgets, as opposed to Congress. Furthermore, the president was able to make agreements with foreign nations without congressional approval; the president was able to exercise executive agreements to make deals with foreign nations instead of going through the Senate to approve a treaty—this even included instigating military action. Moreover, Nixon’s presidency ultimately signaled the end of the imperial presidency. Nixon refused to spend funds appropriated by Congress, used executive privilege in order to not disclose information, did not allow key decision-makers to be questioned by congressional committees, and made new executive branch positions and broadened the power of some without congressional approval.

Due to the abuse of power demonstrated by Nixon, everything culminated to the Watergate Scandal; this allowed Congress to enact legislation to limit the relative supreme power of the presidency. Following Watergate, Congress passed the War Powers Act of 1973, which required the President to receive congressional approval for foreign combat lasting longer than ninety days and to report the reason for foreign combat within forty-eight hours. Also, the attorney general was forced to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate illegal acts. And, so as to disallow the president from impounding funds, the Congressional Budget Office was created. In addition, public finance for presidential elections was allowed, but sources of public funds had to be disclosed to the public, private contributions and spending were to be limited, and these campaign finance laws were to be enforced by a Federal Election Commission; similarly, the Freedom of Information Act was established to allow government to be more transparent and let...
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