COURSE OUTLINE                                                                                    Dr. Theodore R. Mosch

The Presidency and Congress                                                                      Business 225

Political Science 333                                                                                    Phone 901/587-7481                                                                                                                                                                     email:



In 1990, the American public observed two major national government controversies--one domestic and one international--which reflected well the customary conflict between the Presidency and the Congress.  These were the Budget and Persian Gulf Crises.               As Presidential expert Professor Clinton Rossiter said in The American Presidency (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, Inc., 1956),


The President and Congress, thanks chiefly to the independence that each enjoys under the Constitution, are set perennially at odds with one another.  Antagonism is built into the system, and the President is forced willy-nilly to choose between meek aggression, which throws it into turmoil.


The FY91 Budgetary Crisis will no doubt go down in history.  The President could not even obtain support from his own party in order to pass the initial budget; the severe cuts of the Gramm-Rudman Hollings legislation loomed overhead.  Finally, after weeks of maneuvering, a compromise was passed.  The budget deficit, which is now accounting for about 20 percent of all government outlays, in regard to debt interest, indicated the independence of the two branches of our national government.  To Europeans, accustomed to the parliamentary systems, rejection of a President's budgetary package by members of a Chief Executive's own party, was unthinkable.  The budgetary crisis has not been solved; it has only for the moment been put on the back burner.  Unfortunately, another round of debates will emerge when our leaders face future budgets.  This was an example of a domestic crisis involving both the White House and Capitol Hill.


Everyone is familiar with the International Crisis which started with the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq on August 2, 1990.  Initially, the Congress supported the President, who as Commander-in-Chief and Chief Diplomat, responded quickly to Saddam Hussein's, aggression.  Some 50,000 troops were sent to the sands of Saudi Arabia to protect the Gulf - States.  The White House outlined its defensive strategy.  Later, when the embargo appeared to be failing, the President as Commander-in-Chief increased the troop commitment to about 450,000 and indicated that the policy would be offensive should Saddam Hussein not leave Kuwait.  This resulted in extensive congressional hearings and a debate.  Was the War Powers Act of 1973 being violated?  Could the President under the Constitution commit the United States to war?  The echoes of Vietnam returned to the capital.


The debate between Congress and the President has continued.  The Constitution itself gives much overlap between these two branches, especially regarding foreign policy.  Scholars will forever debate what the founders of the Republic had in mind.  The debate is usually more intense in the foreign policy arena, many claiming that although the President as Commander-in-Chief in reality can "make" war and only Congress can "declare" war.  The Founders did not want one person to be able to commit the nation to war.  Congressional consultation is needed.  Hence, the War Powers Act of 1973!


This study of the Presidency and Congress comes at an ideal time.  The Republican 104th Congress has had on-going battles with the White House over numerous issues including the budget and foreign policy (Bosnian peacekeeping is but one).  Some have even seen these crises as a basis for restructuring our entire national government.  These critics claim the system no longer works!


In approaching this study, it is obvious that Americans have grown up with the major focus on the White House, not Capitol Hill.  Perhaps, this is wrong.  Maybe the media has given undue emphasis on that one person residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D. C. 20500, rather than the 535 Congressional representatives.  This focus is very apparent in daily news reports.  The President gets the attention.  In November 1990, the President and key Congressional leaders spent Thanksgiving with the troops in Saudi Arabia.  Even here the emphasis on the President was most apparent.  The soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines preferred to have photo opportunities with their President rather than with Congressional leaders.  This emphasis on the occupant of the White House goes back a long time.  John Bright, English supporter of the American embattled Union, paid tribute to the Presidency in 1861 with these words:


I think the whole world offers no finer spectacle than this; it offers no higher dignity; and there is no greater object of ambition on the political stage on which men are permitted to move.  You may point, if you will, to hereditary rulers, to crowns coming down through successive generations of the same family, to thrones based on prescription or on conquest, to scepters wielded over veteran legions and subject realms, but to my mind there is nothing more worthy of reverence and obedience, and nothing more sacred than the authority of the freely chosen magistrate of a great and free people; and if there be on earth and among men any divine right to govern, surely it rests with a ruler so chosen and so appointed.


The President has many roles.  These include: Head of State, Chief Diplomat, Chief Executive, Chief Legislator, Commander-in-Chief, Manager of the Economy, and Head of a Political Party.  All of these roles will interact in some say or another with the Congress.  Although the President has immense powers, both formal and informal, and often formulates policies - domestic and foreign - he also must be accountable.  Clinton Rossiter concluded, "That in the end, this is the essence of the Presidency,  It is the one office in all the land whose occupant is forbidden to pass the buck,"


Course Goal


To understand the relationship between the Presidency and Congress and to obtain an appreciation of current issues involving these two government branches.  This should assist in answering this important question: Is our national governmental structure in need of reform?





Required Textbooks


There is an array of textbooks available on the presidency: fewer on the Congress.  Many are in hardback and expensive.  The price of the books was a major consideration in my selection.  The two textbooks are current and both published by Congressional Quarterly, Inc., which has keep up-dated on the Washington, D.C. scene.  Both are in paperback editions.


1.  Sidney M. Milkis and Michael Nelson.  The American Presidency, Origins and Development, 1776-1998.  Third Edition.  Washington, D.C.:  Congressional Quarterly Press, 1999. 3d Edition.  ISBN 1-56802-432-0 (Paper)


2.  James A. Thurber,  Rivals for Power.  Presidential-Congressional Relations.

Washington, D.C.:  Congressional Quarterly Press, 1996.  ISBN 1-56802-152-6 (Paper)


In politics change is constant.  Therefore, there is always a need to consider new textbooks.  Book publishers stress the need to purchase the latest editions without concern for students, and most students have financial concerns and would like textbooks to be kept for at least several years permitting them to sell the books.  This professor is aware of these students' concerns and tries to update texts in this class in conjunction with Presidential elections.  This class will be taught again in the fall of 2000.  Plans are to use the textbooks listed in the outline at that time.


In addition, students will be required to subscribe to the Washington Post National Weekly Edition.  This will be for 14 weeks.  Subscription materials will be distributed the first class period.


Address:        The Washington Post

National Weekly Edition

Classroom Program

1150 15th Street, N.W.

Washington, D. C. 20071

Phone: 202/334-4293

Fax: 202/334-4311

Toll Free: 1-800-627-1150, ext. 4293


Students will be selected to lead a discussion over the Washington Post Weekly Edition.   Assignments will be made at the beginning of the semester.  There will also be quizzes   given on this weekly edition.


Each morning Washington D.C. policy makers, including those in the Executive and Congressional branches, begin the day with a review of the national press.  This includes the Washington Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the Christian Science Monitor. This weekly edition should provide the class with an update on many issues including those involving the White House and Capitol Hill.


To keep up with current events, some radio and television newscasts are noteworthy.  The National Public Radio (WKMS-FM 91.3 Murray State University) (WKNO-FM, 90.1, 90.7, Memphis) offer superb news reports both in the morning (Morning Edition starting at 0500) and afternoon (All Things Considered at 1600).  There are also Week-End Editions at 1600.  In regard to television, the Lehrer Report on Channel 11 at 1800 daily gives in-depth news features.


Text Assignments




Assignment              Milkis/Nelson                                                                   Thurber

                            The American Presidency                     Rivals for Power



1.             Chapter 1. Constitutional Convention,

                 pp. 1-24.  Constitution of the

                 United States, pp. 425-443.



2                    Chapter 2.  Creating the                         Ch. 1.  An Introduction to

                 Presidency, pp. 25-65.                    Presidential-Congressional

                                                                                                Rivalry, James A. Thurber,

                                                                                                pp. 1-18.



              3              Chapter 3.  The Presidency              Ch. 2. The Presidency and.

                            of George Washington,                                          Congressional Time,

                            pp. 66-84.                                              Roger H. Davidson

                                                                                              pp. 19-44.



              4              Chapter 4. The Rise of Party              Ch. 3. The New Era of

                            Politics and the Triumph of              Congressional Policy Making

                            Jeffersonianism, pp. 85-115.              Walter Oleszek, pp. 45-63.



5                    Chapter 5. The Age of Jackson              Ch. 4.  Presidential Leadership

                                      pp. 116—142                                          with Congress;

                                                                                               Change, Coalition, Crisis.

Lester G. Seligman and Cary R. Covington,  pp. 64-85





6                    Chapter 6.  The Presidency of              Ch. 5.  One Vote at a Time:

                           Abraham Lincoln, pp. 143-162.              Building Presidential

                                                                                               Coalition in Congress, Leroypp.

                                                                                               N. Rieselbach, pp. 86-102



              7                    Chapter 7.  The Reaction Against   Ch. 6.  An Overview of the

                            Presidential Power:                                Empirical Findings on

                                      Andrew Johnson to William      Presidential-Congressional

                                      McKinley, pp. 163-192.                      Relations, Jon R. Bond,

                                                                                                   Richard Fleisher, Glen S.

                                                                                                   Knutz. pp. 103-139.






              8                    Chapter 8.  Progressive                                       Ch. 7.  Congressional Support

                            Politics and Executive                                       of Presidential Action,

                            Power: The Presidencies                                         Scott R. Furlong. pp. 140-152.

                            of Theodore Roosevelt

                                      and William Howard Taft,

                           pp. 193-221.



9                    Chapter 9.  Woodrow Wilson       Ch. 8.  Congress, the President,.

                                      and the Defense of Popular                      and Automatic Government,

                                      Leadership. pp. 222-241.                           The Case of Military Base

                                                                                          Closures, Christopher J. Deering,pp. 153-169.




10                   Chapter 10.  The Triumph of       Ch. 9.  President Clinton and the

                                   Conservative Republicanism,          103rd Congress:  “Winning

                                   pp. 242-261.                                                     Battles and Losing Wars."

                                                                                               pp. 170-190.



11               Chapter 11.  The Consolidation    Ch. 10.  Congressional-Presidential

                                      of the Modern Presidency:                      Battles to Balance the Budget,

                                      Franklin D. Roosevelt to                           James A. Thurber.

                                      Dwight D. Eisenhower.                              pp.191-213

                                      pp. 262-298.



12.              Chapter 12.  Personalizing              Ch. 11.  President Clinton

                            the Presidency:              John F.                                     as Commander-in-Chief,

                                      Kennedy to Jimmy Carter.                   Louis Fisher. pp. 214-231.

                                      pp. 299-339.



13.              Chapter 13.  A Restoration of       Ch. 12.  Congress Within

                     Presidential Power?  Ronald                  the U. S. Presidential System,

                            Reagan and George Bush.                         Michael L. Mazey.

                                      pp. 340-370.                                             pp. 232-258.



14           Chapter 14.  Bill Clinton and

                                      the American Presidency. pp. 371-400.



15           Chapter 15.  The Vice Presidency.

                 pp. 401-421.








              1.  Test 1 (Assignments 1-7)                      25%


              2.  Test 2 (Assignments 8-14)                    25%


              3.  Research Paper                             25%


              4.  Discussion                                                         5%


              5.  Quizzes (Washington Post)                    20%




Research Paper


Each student will be required to do a research paper on an issue involving Congress and the Presidency; students are to have different topics.  The research papers must be submitted at class on __________________________.

Papers submitted later will be deducted 5 points for each day after the deadline.  Time permitting, students will be asked to report to the class on their research papers.  These presentations will be programmed during the last portion of the semester.


The University of Tennessee has continuously emphasized the need for students to acquire good communications skills, especially writing ones; the lack of writing skills has been a serious shortcoming among many university graduates.  With this well in mind, this professor is assigning a research paper.  This ten-page paper (typewritten and double-spaced) should be well organized, grammatically correct, and should reflect good research and analysis.


Step 1.  Select a topic.  The paper is to focus on an issue involving both the Presidency and Congress.  Each student is to have a different topic.  Selection of a topic will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Some students will have to look to the past to obtain an acceptable topic.  A review of the literature in the library will be helpful.  This should include periodical indices, magazines, (Congressional Quarterly, for example) and books on the Congress and the Presidency.  Everyone cannot -focus on a current topic.  What are some topics that you might consider?


Controversies involving nominations:  The Bork and Thomas Nominations to the Supreme Court.  The Tower Nomination for the Secretary of Defense.  The Carswell and Haynsworth-Supreme Court nominations by President Nixon are also good examples.


Budgetary Issues including the Savings and Loan Controversy and the Budget Deficit.


Environmental issues, such as acid rain, endangered species, rental fees for government grazing land.


Energy programs including the conservation programs.


Veto Action by the President will obtain possible topics, including the Civil Rights



Various policy initiatives by the Congress, including National Service, Health Care,

Day Care, Family Leave


The Pay Increases for Federal Employees.  In this area, there may be agreement between the branches rather than confrontation.


The entire Watergate Scandal offers numerous possibilities; you will have to limit the focus.  The White Water Scandal is another topic.


Cost overruns in the military contract area.


The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)


Educational Policies


In regard to the international, conflicts-declared and undeclared, can offer possibilities. Others include:


The role of intelligence.  Here the Pearl Harbor Attack--did the Executive know in advance?  Control of the intelligence operations.


Foreign Policy Issues, including Support for the Palestinians, Israel.  Sanctions against the Republic of South Africa.  Should the United States aid Russia?  Eastern Europe?  The Aid to Contras in Nicaragua.  Should the United States support dictatorships?  Aid to El Salvador.  Our policy in Bosnia.  Eastern Europe.  Trade with Japan.  Relations with the People's Republic of Eastern China.  Relations with North Korea.  The Bosnian Peacekeeping Operation.


The possibilities in both the domestic and international spheres are endless.

Obtaining a topic will not be difficult; just look at current magazines, newspapers, or in-depth news presentations.


Remember: The topic must involve both the Presidency and the Congress.


There will be a sign-up sheet distributed in class.  Selecting a topic should be I made as soon as possible so research can begin early.


Step 2.  Research.  You need to obtain a wide variety of sources.  These include newspapers, magazines, journals, and books--also, government documents to include hearings.  They are to reflect both the Congress and the Presidency.  Referring to testimony, official statements by key administration and congressional leaders will be most helpful in achieving the goal of the paper.  Editorials-on-File, the Congressional Quarterly, Vital Speeches will also be helpful.  Avoid the use of encyclopedias.


Step 3.  Organize the paper with this outline in mind.


1.  State clearly the issue involving the Congress and the Presidency.


11.        Give critical analysis of the issue, noting actions by Capitol Hill and the White House.

111.  Come to a conclusion.  Why are you coming to this assessment?

             Give reasons.  A critical analysis is sought.


Step 4.  Write the paper with careful attention to the outline and also to organization and grammar.  The paper should have a well-developed introduction and conclusion.

Paragraphs should be developed.  You need to have a variety of structures.  Try to keep in the same person (usually the third).  Weave analysis into the paper.  Be creative!  The following outline will be used for evaluation of the term paper.  The more one writes, the better command of the language he or she will have.  This exercise has three purposes: to obtain insight into an issue involving the Congress and the President, to share that research with others, and finally to gain practice in communicative skills which are essential in most careers.


Evaluation of the Research Paper


30 pts.  1. Did the paper focus on an issue involving both the Presidency and Congress?

a.  Was the issue clearly explained?


30 pts.  2.  Was there good analysis?


20 pts.  3.  Organization (Syntax).

a.  Grammatically correct.

b.  Developed paragraphs.


20 pts.  4.  References.

a.  Varied sources.

b.  Citations in proper format.



Suggest you follow a standard style guide in writing your paper.  One widely used is Kate L. Turabian.,  A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).


From the guide, you will note a difference in the format of footnotes and bibliographic entries.  The Latin abbreviations such as lbid., Ioc.cit., and op.cit. should be used.


Use this format for footnotes and bibliographic entries.


Footnote:  William Ebenstein.  Great Political Thinkers, Plato to Present.

          Edition (New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, Inc., 1969), p. 5.


Bibliographic Entry


Ebenstein, William.  Great Political Thinkers, Plato to the Present.

                          Fourth Edition.  New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, Inc.,



Other suggestions:


You can place footnotes at the end of each page, at the end of your paper, or immediately after the citation.  The bibliography, of course, comes at the end.  Do not simply cite references placed at end of paper, such as (Ebenstein, p. 2).


Check spelling.


Be sure to know the proper use of a word.  Example:  there vs. their.


Use vivid language.  Things are one word to try to avoid.  It is too vague.


Develop paragraphs.  Have good transitions.  Make sure your paper moves along. 


Outstanding papers give direction to the reader; the contents flow along.


By all means, get started early.



              The grading scale is as follows:             

A  (95-100)

                                         B  (85-94)  

                                        C  (76-84)

D  (65-74)

                                         F   (0-64)



Students are to take examinations with the class; if there is a legitimate reason for missing an examination, then one make-up exam period will be scheduled at the end of the semester.  This will be announced the first class period.  Students must take final examinations at the designated times.  Those coming late to examinations may not be allowed to take that examination;  no one will be permitted to take an exam once a student has turned in a test.


Make-up Examinations (not final) will be held: _________________________________.


Class attendance will be a consideration for the grade since there is a 5 percent discussion grade; those not present, obviously cannot contribute.


This outline is detailed.  It is to explain what is expected for this class.  If you have questions, bring them up the first class period.  The outline can be viewed as a contract.


Office Hours:___________________________________________________________








Class attendance is critical in obtaining the maximum from courses.

This is especially true in political science where discussion does figure into the final grade.  In addition to affecting the class discussion grade, excessive cuts will lower the final grade through this policy.


Tues./Thurs. Classes - Four cuts are automatically excused.  After that, each cut will result in a 1.5 point reduction from the final course grade average.


Mon./Wed./Fri. Classes - Six cuts are automatically excused.  After that, each cut will result in a 1 point reduction from the final course average.


Of course, those in legitimate university activities or experiencing illness will merit additional excuses.  However, such excuses must be verified.


In sum, attend class!  Excessive cuts will affect the final course grade!