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‘The Broken Branch’, To What Extent Is This A Fair Assessment Of Congress? (45 Marks)

1237 words - 5 pages

‘The broken branch’, to what extent is this a fair assessment of Congress? (45 Marks)

Within the constitution, the power of Congress first appears in Article 1, Section 1, ‘all legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States’. This suggests that congress has huge amounts of power Congress in creating legislature, scrutinizing the executive and playing a huge role when it comes to the checks and balances of the three branches of government. However, in recent times, many people argue that congress is ‘broken’. One of the biggest examples of this is the increasingly poor legislative record. Although there is going to be a big bias within congress, ...view middle of the document...

But when we look at congressmen and their role in representing their state. The high percentage of incumbents (usually over 90%) shows they are carrying out at least one function effectively. With an election cycle that comes up every 2 years for members of the house, its very important to ensure you are always representing your members fully, in the past, failing to look after a constituent can prove fatal. In 2008, Senator Elizabeth Dole lost her re-election because her constituents didn’t feel as though she was ‘in touch with their views’. Therefore, although congressman represents their constituents, I can still argue that it is the congressmen who are doing their job properly (voting the district), but congress as a whole is still broken!

Congress key role by far is legislature, but the fact that in an ‘average’ congressional term, only 2/5% of over 10,000 bills introduced are actually implemented into law is quite shocking. Milbank, a political correspondent for the Washington Post stated that the 112th congressional session was the ‘big-talk no action congress’, once again proving that it can no longer carry out its main function, outlined in article 1 of the constitution and is therefore ‘broken’. Perhaps this could be down to the little diversity within congress. Currently, congress is made up of 80% WHITE male, even though they only represent 1/3 of the country. The inability for congress to accurately represent society as a whole and work together within congress could be the biggest reason for a ‘broken’ branch. On top of this, the increasing use of filibusters within the senate (the more prestigious house within congress), which slow down the legislative process are another way to stop bills passing through congress and is further evidence of a broken branch. Senator Storm Thurmond conducted a filibuster that lasted over 23 hours in opposition to the Civil Rights Act in 1957 slowing down the process of the bill and puts a huge emphasis on this slow, un-progressing congressing that seems to work to nothing.

However, when John Boehner, former leader of the House, announced a ban on earmarks in the 113th session, it gives a slight glimpse of future for congress. Money would now go to the right places! Therefore, I cant entirely argue that congress is completely broken, there is evidence, such as the ban on earmarks, that shows congress can still function adequately.

In recent years, it would seem congress have elected those who have a strong personality rather than there leadership/skills for the job. On top of this, the leadership and parties that dominate congress could be another way in demonstrating this ‘broken congress’....

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