Discuss about The Merits of the Lesser Independence of the American Congressional Committees.
The American congress and the Congressional committees hold immense importance in the parliamentary system of the United States. These committees are responsible for making such vital decisions that may either push the society to the path of progress or pull it back from going forth. This is the reason why the congressional committees are the subjects of critical discussion and debate. Scholars and experts have conveyed varied opinions on the role of independence in deciding the actions of the Congressional committees. This paper tries to discuss and evaluate the merits of lesser independence contrasted with the greater independence of the Congressional committees.
The members of the congressional committees are fundamentally granted independence so that they can act and work freely from any pressure of the local or national parties but it is often observed that the committee members make use of the official resources as a means of their own campaign . Therefore, the independence is misused and exploited. During the period of the late 1970s, it was observed that the committee members prepared the drafts of legislations in accordance with the negotiations they had already made for the sake of some favored group . It advocated for the reduction of the independence and power of the congressional committees because negotiated legislations can prove to be seriously hazardous to the balance and health of the social structure. If the independence was not reduced, the consequences could prove to be gruesome. Moreover, several sub-committees were formed to observe the actions and if any oversight performed by the congressional committees. These sub-committees were given the roles to arrange discussions and hearings in order to critically point out any kind of oversight activities and wastage of any official resources and this step proved to be successful in restraining fraudulent activities and mismanagement performed by the committee members . But it also created enormous political tension between the Republicans and Democrats. It is historically proven that the allotment of greater power and independence to the congressional committees may at first seem to be the ultimate solution but it eventually leads to some chaotic or troublesome situations. During the late 1990s Dennis Hastert, the Republican leader approved more independence to the congressional committees in order to diminish the existence of any rift between the Republicans and the Democrats but later he tried to use that independence to aggressively create the sense of loyalty toward his party from the committee members . It was also observed during the 1960s and 1970s that the Rules Committee often created trouble not only for the party in power but also for the opposition side. The lack of independence means that the administration might return back any proposed legislation multiple times but at the same time, it also helps to ensure that the legislations have some validity and relevance to the contemporary situations . Thus the lesser independence of the Congressional committees seems to fit the structure and formation of the American congress.
People might argue that committees should be offered more independence to ensure that they act without any political pressure. However, the actual scenario is that the allotment of greater independence or autonomy seems to destroy the balance of power distribution among the legislative and parliamentary formats. The lesser independence ensures that the committees do not make illegal and unnecessary use of the powers. But from the broader perspective, the committees should be granted with balanced independence and power in order to maintain harmony in the distribution of power and the best possible outcome for the whole nation.
Smith, Steven S., Jason M. Roberts, and Vander Wielen Ryan J. The American Congress. 8th ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 146
King, David C. Turf Wars: How Congressional Committees Claim Jurisdiction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. 162
Deering, Christopher J., and Steven S. Smith. Committees in Congress. Washington: CQ Press, 1997.
Nelson, Garrison. "Assessing the Congressional Committee System: Contributions from a Comparative Perspective." The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 411, no. 1 (1974): 120-32.
Hall, Richard L., and C. Lawrence Evans. "The Power of Subcommittees." The Journal of Politics 52, no. 2 (1990): 335-55. doi:10.2307/2131897.
 David C. King, Turf Wars: How Congressional Committees Claim Jurisdiction (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 162.
 Christopher J. Daniel, and Steven S. Smith, Committees in Congress (Washington: CQ Press, 1997 ), 254.
 Richard L. Hall and C. Lawrence Evans, "The Power of Subcommittees," The Journal of Politics 52, no. 2 (1990): 347
 Steven S.Smith, Jason M. Roberts, and Vander Wielen Ryan J., The American Congress (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 146.
 Garrison Nelson, "Assessing the Congressional Committee System: Contributions from a Comparative Perspective," The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 411, no. 1 (1974): 123.