Congress’s oversight power is significant as it promotes accountability in government. It monitors government officials in a very special manner. The congress continually reviews how effectively the executive power is carrying out congressional mandates. To my mind, this power cannot be exercised in a biased manner depending on the party controlling the congress, because the laws and rules that apply to the congress, irrespective of what party is in charge, govern the execution of this power. For instance, power has been exercised after the adoption of the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007, which was implemented later in January 23, 2008.
The congress significantly influences federal matters, which include the foreign policy. The President may proclaim foreign policies, but they will not be implemented until the congress authorizes funding, since it controls the purse strings. Another traditional role of the congress is to exercise certain degree of authority over the military forces. Furthermore, the congress ensures moral authority regarding matter of foreign policy and considering their influence on the country’s development. They make their voice felt on human rights, issues as well as political matters. One of the instances when congress influenced foreign policy has been felt in 1975, when they voted to cut off all the funds for military action in Indo-China.
Impeachment power refers to the power expressed by the legislature through allowing formal charges against a civil officer of the government for crimes committed during his or her period in office. However, the actual trial of charges against the officer and the subsequent removal of an officer on basis of those charges are different from impeachment itself. For an officer to be removed from office, two thirds of the senate must be present. In total, to date, the congress has carried out 19 impeachments. The very first one was on President Andrew Johnson in 1868. However, he was found innocent and thus retained his post. He was facing charges due to animosities of the Civil War. The congress also conducted impeachment in 1905, on Florida district judge Charles Swayne, on charges of filing false travel vouchers. The allegations against him were unfounded and thus he remained in office. Another impeachment was conducted on Judge Robert Archibald, accused of grave acts of misconduct. He was found guilty and relieved of his duties.
According to Article II of the Constitution, the President has the following powers:
- He is the commander in chief of the Armed Forces and the Navy of the United States.
- He has the authority to grant reprieves from federal offences apart from impeachments.
- He has the power to commission officers of the Armed Forces.
- The President has the power to summon particular sessions of the congress.
- He holds office for four years.
- He has the power to replace vacant positions that may exist during the senate recess through the process of granting commissions, which expire by the end of the next session.
The Vice President’s power are spelt out in Article II, section III of the Constitution. He is the head of the senate but has no vote, unless they are equally divided. Vice President expresses his powers on several occasions during his tenure in office. The first President of the senate, John Adams, has cast 19 tie-breaking votes. His votes have prevented war with Britain and influenced the location of the capital among achievements. In 2001, the Vice President, Dick Cheney’s vote, gave the republicans the senate majority during the 107 congress.