Congressional oversight

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Congressional Oversight refers to oversight by Congress of the Executive Branch, including the numerous Federal Agencies.


Contents

[edit] CRS Report for Congress[1]

Congressional Oversight refers to the review, monitoring, and supervision of federal agencies, programs, activities, and policy implementation. Congress exercises this power largely through its standing committee system. However, oversight, which dates to the earliest days of the Republic, also occurs in a wide variety of congressional activities and contexts. These include authorization, appropriations, investigative, and legislative hearings by standing committees; specialized investigations by select committees; and reviews and studies by congressional support agencies and staff

Congress’s oversight authority derives from its “implied” powers in the Constitution, public laws, and House and Senate rules. It is an integral part of the American system of checks and balances.

[edit] Report on the Organization of Congress[2]

Oversight is an implied rather than an enumerated power under the U.S. Constitution. The government's charter does not explicitly grant Congress the authority to conduct inquiries or investigations of the executive, to have access to records or materials held by the executive, or to issue subpoenas for documents or testimony from the executive.

There was little discussion of the power to oversee, review, or investigate executive activity at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 or later in the Federalist Papers, which argued in favor of ratification of the Constitution. The lack of debate was because oversight and its attendant authority were seen as an inherent power of representative assemblies which enacted public law.

Oversight also derives from the many and varied express powers of the Congress in the Constitution. It is implied in the legislature's authority, among other powers and duties, to appropriate funds, enact laws, raise and support armies, provide for a Navy, declare war, and impeach and remove from office the President, Vice President, and other civil officers. Congress could not reasonably or responsibly exercise these powers without knowing what the executive was doing; how programs were being administered, by whom, and at what cost; and whether officials were obeying the law and complying with legislative intent.

The Supreme Court made legitimate the oversight powers of Congress, subject to constitutional safeguards for civil liberties, on several occasions. In 1927, for instance, the High Court found that in investigating the administration of the Justice Department, Congress was considering a subject "on which legislation could be had or would be materially aided by the information which the investigation was calculated to elicit."


[edit] Congressional Control of Agencies

If Congress loses faith in an agency, Congress can respond in a number of ways. Congress can pass a law to overrule agency decisions, or to narrow the agency's jurisdiction. Congress can use its appropriations power to restrict the agency's funding. Congress can also narrow the agency's regulatory authority. For example, in the 1980s Congress narrowed the EPA's regulatory discretion using detailed substantive criteria to limit EPA rulemaking. [3]

[edit] See Also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^ CRS Report for Congress 97-936, 2001 (http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/resources/pdf/CRS.Oversight.pdf)
  2. ^ Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress - Congressional Oversight(http://www.rules.house.gov/archives/jcoc2aq.htm)
  3. ^ CONGRESS, THE SUPREME COURT, AND THE QUIET REVOLUTION IN ADMINISTRATIVE LAW, 1988 Duke Law Journal 819.


United States Congress
House of Representatives, Senate110th Congress
Members House: Current, Former, Districts (by area) | Senate: Current (by seniority, by age), Former (expelled/censured), Classes
Leaders House: Speaker, Party leaders, Party whips, Dem. caucus, Rep. conference, Dean | Senate: President pro tempore (list), Party leaders, Assistant party leaders, Dem. Caucus (Chair, Secretary, Policy comm. chair), Rep. Conference (Chair, Vice-Chair, Policy comm. chair), Dean
Groups African Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Hispanic Americans, Caucuses, Committees, Demographics, Senate Women
Agencies, Employees & Offices Architect of the Capitol, Capitol guide service (board), Capitol police (board), Chiefs of Staff, GAO, Government Printing Office, Law Revision Counsel, Librarian of Congress, Poet laureate | House: Chaplain, Chief Administrative Officer, Clerk, Doorkeeper, Emergency Planning, Preparedness, and Operations, Historian, Page (board), Parliamentarian, Postmaster, Reading clerk, Recording Studio, Sergeant at Arms | Senate: Chaplain, Curator, Historian, Librarian, Page, Parliamentarian, Secretary, Sergeant at Arms
Politics & Procedure Act of Congress (list), Caucuses, Committees, Hearings, Joint session, Oversight, Party Divisions, Rider | House: Committees, History, Jefferson's Manual, Procedures | Senate: Committees, Filibuster, History, Traditions, VPs' tie-breaking votes
Buildings Capitol Complex, Capitol, Botanic Garden | Office buildings– House: Cannon, Ford, Longworth, O'Neill, Rayburn, Senate: Dirksen, Hart, Russell
Research Biographical directory, Congressional Quarterly, Congressional Record, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, The Hill, Roll Call, THOMAS
Misc Mace of the House, Power of enforcement, Scandals, Softball League