PUBPOL 755: Congressional Oversight & Executive Branch

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Winter 2006
Credit Hours

This seminar will examine the theory, history, law and politics of congressional oversight of the executive branch. We will explore these matters through case studies of particular congressional investigations, use of the appropriations and legislative powers, confirmations of executive branch officials and federal court judges, impeachment proceedings, and debates over highly contest matters of foreign affairs. We will grapple with questions such as: Does Congress exercise effective oversight of the Executive Branch? When can it be said that Congress has gone too far in such oversight? What techniques does the Executive use to evade congressional oversight? When can it be said that the Executive has gone too far? How does the effectiveness and legitimacy of congressional oversight differ across methods employed and subject matter of debate? To what extent have recent cases undermined the appropriate authority of the Chief Executive or properly enhanced the oversight capacities of the Congress? How should law shape the relationship between the Congress and the Executive? In addition to course materials, the professor will draw on his experience in the White House and Executive Branch agencies as well as the experience of invited participants. He will also focus on recent major Congressional investigations and oversight including those involving Abu Ghraib prison, 9/11, and the Iraq war declaration. In the Winter 2007 semester, this class is being taught by Marvin Krislov.