Congressional oversight

Discussion in 'Congress' started by longknife, May 4, 2019.

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Is congressional oversight legit?

Poll closed May 19, 2019.
  1. Yes, when done responsibly

    3 vote(s)
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  2. Yes no matter what

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. No

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. longknife
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    longknife Diamond Member

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    The Dims love throwing this out there to justify their plethora of investigations into the current administration.

    Just what the heck is it? And what authorizes it?

    Here’s what Wiki says:

    Congressional oversight is oversight by the United States Congress over the Executive Branch, including the numerous U.S. federal agencies. Congressional oversight includes the review, monitoring, and supervision of federal agencies, programs, activities, and policy implementation. Congress exercises this power largely through its congressional committee system. Oversight 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.

    Get that? Implied powers.

    In other words, something Congress has taken upon itself in addition to specific constitutional powers.

    This will be great if … if our representatives actually represented us, the American people. Sadly, from what we’re seeing from the current bunch of political hacks, one wonders if that is no longer the case.

    What are your views on what is currently going on in the House?
     
  2. Coyote
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    Coyote Varmint Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    It was also used to justify a plethora of investigations into Obama and Hillary Clinton.

    Why is it an issue now?

    My feeling is that oversight is an important function of Congress regardless of the party in power. It provides a necessary check and balance on the executive. It also has, at times, been used for partisan purposes and resulted in overreach but that is hardly confined to one side. Despite that, it should not be infringed upon. I worry more about an unchecked executive than a Congress where it's easier to hold them accountable to us.
     
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  3. toomuchtime_
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    toomuchtime_ Gold Member

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    Oversight is not an enumerated power of Congress and has nothing to do with checks and balances. The SC has held that it's only legitimate use is to help Congress perform its legislative function. In the current case, that means that Congress has no legitimate oversight power since the object seems to be a criminal investigation rather than an effort to effect legislation.
     
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  4. Coyote
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    Coyote Varmint Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Congress' authority to investigate is very broad, and thus far, what it is looking into appears legitimate particularly given Trumps extensive potential conflicts of interest.

    Investigations & Oversight | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives
    The Constitution says nothing about congressional investigations and oversight, but the authority to conduct investigations is implied since Congress possesses “all legislative powers.” The Supreme Court determined that the framers intended for Congress to seek out information when crafting or reviewing legislation. George Mason of Virginia said at the Federal Convention that Members of Congress “are not only Legislators but they possess inquisitorial powers. They must meet frequently to inspect the Conduct of the public offices"

    And Congressional Oversight Is Not Presidential Harassment
    Congress’s power to investigate has deep roots in our nation’s political tradition. Indeed, the practice of legislative oversight predates the nation’s birth, as the British Parliament regularly engaged in investigations. These investigations were premised on the idea that Parliament could not properly legislate if it could not first gather information related to the topics of possible legislation. This practice of legislative investigation was then replicated by American colonial legislatures, which “very early assumed, usually without question, the right to investigate the conduct of other departments of the government and also other matters of general concern brought to attention.” These kinds of investigations continued well after the adoption of the Constitution, including with the formation of several congressional committees to investigate the executive branch.

    Over the years, the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that Congress’s power to investigate is “co-extensive with the power to legislate.” In McGrain v. Daugherty, the Court explained why: “[a] legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information—which not infrequently is true—recourse must be had to others who do possess it.” The Court has also made clear that Congress has the power to investigate when it is “related to, and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of the Congress.” Thus, for example, Congress can investigate where the results of the investigation could lead “to further action on the part of the [Congress] within its constitutional powers.”

    In practical terms, this means that Congress’s power to investigate is quite “broad,” as the Supreme Court has said. Congress can engage in investigations related to topics on which it has legislated in the past, as well as topics on which it could legislate in the future. As the Supreme Court has explained,“the power of the Congress to conduct investigations . . . encompasses inquiries concerning the administration of existing laws as well as proposed or possibly needed statutes. It includes surveys of defects in our social, economic or political system for the purpose of enabling Congress to remedy them.”

    Moreover, Congress can engage in investigations that will facilitate its ability to perform its other responsibilities under the Constitution, including its responsibility to determine whether to impeach or convict the President or other officials for “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” As the Supreme Court has put it, congressional oversight “comprehends probes into departments of the Federal Government to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste.”

    To be sure, this power is “not unlimited,” as “[t]here is no general authority to expose the private affairs of individuals without justification in terms of the functions of the Congress.” Moreover, Congress (just like the other two branches) must exercise its powers in a manner consistent with other provisions of the Constitution, like the Equal Protection Clause. But if an inquiry is relevant to some action Congress might take, Congress can generally engage in it.
     
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  5. toomuchtime_
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    toomuchtime_ Gold Member

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    And in the present case, since Congress is not holding investigations to help it formulate legislation and is not currently holding impeachment hearings, it has no legitimate oversight powers to compel the administration to comply with its demands.
     
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