This topic contains 13 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Steve Spears 10 months, 3 weeks ago.

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    Learning Objective: Explain the function of the legislative branch.

    1. Overview: Introduction to Congress
    2. Overview: Powers of Congress
    3. Overview: Limits to Congressional Power

    Answer the question:

      Do you think Congress has too much power or not enough? Why?

    Natalie Parker

    I do not think that Congress has too much power. We go through a rigorous process of electing individuals who directly represent our citizenry. If anything, in recent years I believe that there are almost too many checks on the power of Congress. With divided chambers and the power of the President鈥檚 veto and Executive Orders, I believe that Congress right now has less power than it has in the past.

    Despite the fact that Congressional representatives are directly elected by citizens, as compared to the President who is elected by the Electoral College, or the Judicial Branch鈥檚 supreme court justices, which are appointed by the President and approved by Congress, I don鈥檛 think that Congress has been able to have as much power in recent years.

    I鈥檓 interested in delving more into the difference between local, state and federal powers too! This link might be helpful for some folks:

    Here鈥檚 a helpful CliffsNotes that I found (thanks for the recommendation at Symposium, Sonji!):


    Michael Wile

    I agree with Natalie that congress has ceded power to the executive and judicial branches over the years. A recent examples of increased use of executive orders usurping congressional power was Donald Trump instituting tariffs on Chinese commerce. Despite most of the republican congress disagreeing with this executive order, Trump issued the executive order and it became law. Another example was when Donald Trump did not get his border wall, he declared a state of emergency, shut down the government and he managed to still get some of the money for the wall anyway. Congress has been giving up power to the judicial and executive branches because partisan politics has led to constant gridlock and inability to ever get a two thirds majority. Without a two thirds majority the president has veto power and then the case ends up in the judicial system.


    Ken Martin

    Power is expressed by those who wield it.

    With only a two party congress (we need more Joe Liebermans) and the overwhelmingly priority of those elected is to get RE-elected, congress spites itself while the president of the time runs the country based on their own agenda. I believe since Reagan, congress has been whittled down to a side show for the public to focus on while the other two branches of government dictate for good or bad the direction of our country. Prior to Reagan, there were great Presidents going back to Franklin Roosevelt. Unfortunately due to wars, conflicts, assassination, controversy, impassivity and possible weakness, congress had to step up to the plate a earn their keep and run the country. When Reagan was elected it was about him, which at that time in history, our country probably needed. Since then our government has been president-centric. George Washington tried to tell congress that the United States should never, ever, be about the president and that congress should be the voice of the people. The peoples voice is often ignored, denied, or only taken into consideration by the latest vocal minority of the minute.

    Congress as a whole has power but denies itself that power by not working together as a cohesive entity in the trust of the people of the country.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by  Ken Martin.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by  Ken Martin.

    Larry West

    I believe that the legislative branch is the only branch that truly represents the people. We vote them in and they are held directly accountable by their constituents. Further they are the only branch truly accessible by the people. I can’t simply show up at the president’s office or a supreme courts justice’s office and have a conversation, but I can stop by my state reps office. I don’t think they have too little or too much power. Although, I do feel at times they fail to make adequate use of their power

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by  Larry West.

    Viviana Gonz谩lez

    I think Congress has just about the right amount of power – not too little, not too much. It is decisive and influential, without being overbearing. The main issue I see with this branch is that although its members should represent their constituents’ interests, often their own personal agendas and other influences prevail. It is also not clear to me what their position is on some of the main issues we are dealing with in today’s modern society (despite our increased access to information). Nevertheless, I think it is a much more effective and fair form of government when compared to other nations because it provides the opportunity for the people to have a voice.



    Thanks, Natalie!

    We are beginning to develop the agenda for our July meeting and this could very well be one of the topics we dive deeper on!




    I love your point that Congress is more accessible to the people.

    Local Congressional offices (in District or state offices for Senators) generally don鈥檛 see a lot of foot traffic from constituents 鈥 why do you think that is?


    Michelle Fernandez

    thank you Natalie for your links. I do agree that the power congress has is set up just perfect. the problem is that that power has been redefined by the way we run our government today. those who get involved in legislation and run for office are truly there to make a difference in government and to be the representative of their district or state. these are people who were, as previously stated, voted in directly by the people and for the people. we have just fallen away from the grass roots of government and landed in politics where its almost impossible to come to an agreement because we leave too much in the hand of the executive branch.


    Krista Davidson

    No, I don’t think that Congress has too much power due to the system of checks and balances that is in place. However, over the past couple of years, this system is being severely tested by the legislative and executive branches, with the latter trying to take all the power. I hope that our democracy will hold.


    Aidan Elliott

    I don’t feel that congress has too much or too little power per se and I agree that as our country stays so evenly divided by the two party system, congressional power has not been used appropriately to benefit the people. Policy becomes so gridlocked by members voting strictly on party lines that less and less is being done to move our country forward.


    Ashley Castello

    I do not think that congress has too much power. However, I do think that it still has it’s faults. For example, in the senate, each state has two representatives. So states with very small populations have equal representation as states where the majority of the population of the country live. I don’t think this is fair. It is an example of one of the antiquated policies that has not held up with time and needs to be reexamined.


    Jen Loving

    I like Viviana’s point in that Congress has their own agenda and sometimes is not in the best interest of me as a constituent. That being said my agenda doesn’t always align with the majority. I can’t imagine the amount of stress they feel as they can’t make every constituent happy. I also agree with Larry about being able to visit Congress and have that relationship with them. I believe this is key, while they may not always vote for something that would be favorable to our community, we still make an impact.


    Steve Spears

    With the structure of the 3 branches of government, and the system of checks and balances in place, I think Congress has an appropriate amount of power.

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