Congressional Abdication on War and Spending
Presidential Studies - Political Science
6.125 x 9.25, 240 pp.
Pub Date: 08/01/2000
Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership
  cloth
Price:        $34.95 s

978-0-89096-950-2
  paper
Price:        $17.95 s

978-0-89096-951-9

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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2001 Choice List of Outstanding Academic Books. Sponsored by Choice Magazine.

Congressional Abdication on War and Spending

By Louis Fisher

The balance of powers among the branches of government is the defining structure of American democracy. The Founders assumed each branch would jealously guard its own prerogatives to prevent tyrannical power. Were they wrong? In recent years Congress has progressively abdicated its role in two crucial areas: war powers and the budget process. The result is a chief executive with too few constraints and too little restraint, to the detriment of national policy and democratic processes. How has this come about, and what are the implications of this changing balance of powers?

Louis Fisher addresses these pressing questions in a carefully argued study of congressional power. He examines how attempts by Congress to reassert its will in the wake of Watergate ultimately resulted in further surrender of legislative power to the presidency.

This book will engage students of the governmental process and help them to understand not only the issues at stake in balanceofpower questions, but also how to conduct civic discussion and reasoned argument. In the end, Fisher advocates a return to constitutional principle on the part of lawmakers and the education of citizens who will insist that Congress protect those principles.

LOUIS FISHER is a senior specialist in separation of powers with the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Previous books include Presidential Spending Power and Presidential War Power. Texas A&M University Press published the fourth edition of his Politics of Shared Power in 1998.

What Readers Are Saying:

“. . . Fisher’s insights from his own experiences and his interpretations of government behavior are invaluable and unique.”--Nancy Kassop

“. . . Fisher’s insights from his own experiences and his interpretations of government behavior are invaluable and unique.” --Nancy Kassop

“Combining first-rate research with a remarkably lucid analytical style, Fisher notes the impact of partisanship and intellectual confusion on setting limits. . . . The book provides extensive notes for researchers. This is an excellent addition to the debate and a must read for students of the US institutions and foreign policy. Recommended at all levels.” --Choice

“Overall, Fisher has provided a useful history of the development of the congressional war and spending powers. His argument that Congress has abdicated power to the president in these areas should provoke discussion and provide a foundation for future research into dynamic relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government.” --Rhetoric and Public Affairs

“With his usual deft touch, exhaustive scholarship and lucid prose, he traces how the founders went to great lengths to chain down the dog of war to the legislative branch, allowing its release for offensive purposes only by a majority vote in both chambers of Congress. In this reasoned yet impassioned book, Louis Fisher sounds an alarm. One hopes the American people and their representatives will heed the cry and redress the dangerous imbalance that has arisen between the executive and legislative branches.” --Journal of Legislative Studies

“Fisher writes with a lively nonpartisan style, his well-footnoted critiques lambasting Presidents Bush and Clinton and Democratic and Republican Congresses alike, the former pair stealing or at least receiving stolen power, the latter for cravenly surrendering it. The reader will enjoy his occasional first-person accounts. . .” --Annals

“Fisher demonstrates through extensive historical evidence the changes in war and spending powers following WWII. Throughout the book, readers can find this evidence in boxes that provide excerpts from congressional transcripts and other various resources. These insets, and the conversational tone of the book, in which Fisher often shares his own personal experiences, make this work accessible to undergraduates studying presidential and executive relations; still, any scholar interested in the subject will benefit from a thorough reading. The strength of this book comes from its rich historical detail, reminding us of the extensive politics behind decision often already catalogued by many as history. Fisher reminds us that history should not be forgotten. . . Fisher should be applauded for seeing the problem of presidential and executive relations in a new light. His scholarship is thorough and convincing. . .” --Congress & the Presidency

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