The relationship between the President and Congress has been the subject of much talk and debate over the years. This relationship is affected by many things, what party is in the White House and the Congress and if they are opposition parties. Their relationship is affected by the personalities and agendas of both the President and the Leadership of the Congress and how willing they are to work together to get legislation passed. This relationship is one of constant change and controversy throughout American history. So, how does one go about comparing the relationship between congress and a president? One of the first factors in defining this relationship is establishing the party lines that exist between the White House and Capitol Hill, meaning is it a divided government or a single-party government. The next factor is what kind of legislation was passed and was the President responsible for that or was the congress. Another factor just as important was what legislation was not passed, why it was not passed, and who was responsible for that. It is also critical when comparing presidents that you compare presidents that are of the same era in American history. Comparing Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Bill Clinton and how they dealt with congress would not give an accurate picture of the relationship between Congress and the President because our country deals with issues that the congress of the 1930’s and 40’s could not have foreseen. That is why this paper will be comparing and contrasting Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and how they dealt with and related to congress.
President Bill Clinton came into the White House in 1993 and enjoyed a democratic majority in both houses. During this time Clinton received an 86.4 % success rate on roll call votes in which he took a clear position (CQ Almanac 1994 Pg 3-C). This rate is double what the first President Bush received and is one of the highest ever recorded by a president, since Congressional Quarterly started recording data. What may attribute to this high success rate? One was the fact that President Clinton was dealing with his own party in Congress and therefore makes it that much easier to deal with Congress. There was also growing partisanship in both houses of congress. This is evidenced by the fact that, House democrats supported him an average of 77% of the time and Senate Democrats supported Clinton an average of 87% of the time in 1993 (CQ Almanac 1994 3-C). Clinton in the first two years of his presidency showed willingness to work and compromise with congress, nothing made this more apparent than the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) debate. Nicholas E. Calio, Bush’s chief lobbyist, said Clinton has “worked congress very hard. You have to credit him.” House Minority leader Robert H. Michael (R-IL) is quoted saying “What [Clinton] did on NAFTA was Herculean.” Representative Michael’s comment demonstrates how hard that Clinton had to work to pass the groundbreaking piece of economic legislation trough congress (CQ Almanac 1994 3-C). In fact when Clinton went to congress to get Economic measures passed he was successful 92.3 % of the time in 1993 (CQ Almanac 1994 3-C). A third factor that attributed to a extremely high success rate in Clinton first two years was that he was the first democrat in over a decade to be elected to the White House, and the democratic congress saw there agenda blocked or diluted by veto’s. After Clinton assumed office a lot of stalled democratic legislation came out and was passed, one of the more notable being the “Motor Voter” bill, which required that voter registrations be available at all government buildings even Department of Motor Vehicles. For Clinton, 1995 brought with it a quick turn of the tables for his party, and his success rating in getting things through congress. In 1995, the democratic turned over power of both houses of congress to the republicans for the first time in almost fifty years. Clintons...
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