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required by the various executive branches and compiles these estimates in a book which is printed and submitted to Congress at the beginning of each regular session. The first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton, claimed the right to report whenever he pleased on financial matters, although in practice his famous reports and recommendations were submitted to Congress only upon request. It is true, his demand for admission to the House of Representatives for the purpose of defending his policies was denied; but throughout his term he maintained very close relations with his supporters in Congress and directed legislative tactics especially with regard to the funding of the national debt and the assumption of state debts. In a letter to Jay he wrote: “ 'Tis not the load of proper official business that alone engrosses me, though this would be enough to occupy any man.

Tis in the extra attention that I am obliged to pay to the course of legislative manœuvres that alone adds to my burden and


This relation between the executive department and Congress in the matter of finance has been made even more intimate by the recent law (1909) authorizing the President to review the estimated expenditures and revenues and make specific recommendations to Congress as to the best methods to be employed in securing a satisfactory balance in the budget. This law shifts to the President a large burden of responsibility which has hitherto rested on Congress and undoubtedly will give an additional weight to executive influence in legislative matters.

Proposals to Establish Formal Connections between the Executive

and Legislative Departments Several times in our history it has been suggested that the heads of departments should be given places in the legislature for the purpose of explaining and defending there, not only measures recommended by the administration, but also the various policies pursued in the execution of the law. It is true, the Constitution would prevent heads of departments, as civil officers, from being at the same time members of either house, but the houses, either separately or jointly, may admit persons who are not members and authorize them to speak on any matter.

· Hamilton, Works, Vol. X, p. 29.


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Indeed, the act of 1789 organizing the Treasury Department, provided “ that the Secretary of the Treasury shall, from time to time, digest and prepare plans for the improvement and management of the revenue and for the support of public credit

shall make reports and give information to either branch of the legislature, in person or in writing as may be required, respecting all matters referred to him by the Senate or House of Representatives or which shall appertain to his office."

There are a number of examples in our early history of executive officers appearing in the Senate for the purpose of making explanations and reading messages and papers. President Washington always read his opening messages before the two houses; and appeared before the Senate to consult with that body about the terms of treaties in process of negotiation. On July 22, 1789, Mr. Jefferson, then Secretary of Foreign Affairs, visited the Senate, in accordance with instructions, and explained the nature of certain executive business before that body. Examples of this kind might be easily multiplied, but it is a matter of established history that in the days of the men who framed the federal Constitution it was a common practice to maintain close public personal relations between Congress and the Cabinet officers.

In 1881, a Senate committee, appointed for the purpose of investigating the question of the relation of the executive to the legislature, reported in favor of giving heads of departments the right to appear in Congress. This committee urged that such a practice was no violation of the principle of separation of powers; that complete isolation of the two departments would produce either conflict or paralysis. Though the two departments of government have a separate existence, runs the report, "they were intended to coöperate with each other as the different members of the human body must coöperate with each other in order to form the figure and perform the duties of a perfect man.” The introduction of heads of departments upon the floor of Congress, the committee urged, would make the information given to Congress more pertinent and conclusive, and would put the members of the legislature on the alert to see that executive influence was only in proportion to the value of the


· Senate Report, No. 837, 46th Cong., 3d Sess. (1881).

information, and thus would enable the public to determine whether that influence was exerted by partisanship or by argument.

In answer to those who urged that it would institute an unconstitutional relation between the executive and Congress, the committee reported: “No one who has occupied a seat on the floor of either house, no one of those who year after year so industriously and faithfully and correctly report the proceedings of the houses, no frequenter of the lobby or the gallery, can have failed to discern the influence exerted upon legislation by the visits of the heads of departments to the floors of Congress and the visits of the members of Congress to the offices in the departments. It is not necessary to say that the influence is dishonest or corrupt, but that it is illegitimate; it is exercised in secret by means that are not public — by means which an honest public opinion cannot accurately discover and over which it can therefore exercise no just control.” 1 In response to the contention that the imposition of these quasi-legislative responsibilities upon heads of departments would make it impossible for them to perform their regular administrative duties, the committee recommended that under-secretaries should be appointed to whom should be confided the routine business requiring only order and accuracy, so that the chief officers could confine their attention to those larger duties involving important policies. In spite of these convincing arguments, the report of the committee was simply buried in the dreary waste of congressional documents.

The case against an approach to parliamentary govern

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* By the following order issued November 26, 1909, President Taft proposed to cut off the subterranean connection between the subordinates in the executive departments and Congress:

"It is hereby ordered that no bureau, office, or division chief, or subordinate in any department of the Government, and no officer of the Army and Navy or Marine Corps stationed in Washington, shall apply to either House of Congress, or to any committee of either House of Congress, or to any Member of Congress for legislation or for appropriations or for congressional action of any kind, except with the consent and knowledge of the head of the department; nor shall any such person respond to any request for information from either House of Congress or any committee of either House, or any Member of Congress, except through, or as authorized by, the head of his department.” An attack was made on this order, in the House, on January 27, 1910; see Congressional Record for January 28, 1910.

ment has been stated by President Lowell as follows. If the Cabinet officers sat in Congress, the power of the President would be reduced and the chief control of the administration would pass to the legislature. If the President were of an opposite party from that in power in Congress, his administrative authority would be reduced to almost nothing, for, in those countries where parliamentary government has been introduced, the titular executive officer, whether he be the King of England or the President of France, loses his political power. Furthermore, deadlocks between the Senate and the House over any ministerial policy would inevitably lead to the supremacy of one branch of the legislature and the decline of the other. If our development should follow the line indicated in other countries having parliamentary government, the House of Representatives would become supreme, the Senate would sink into a mere opposition of the House like the House of Lords in England, and the President would become merely a nominal head. Furthermore, such a fusion of executive and legislative departments would strengthen the federal government at the expense of the states, and would destroy the power of the courts to declare statutes invalid. In other words, it is contended, anything like parliamentary government would make a revolution in the whole framework of our federal system, and dislocate the distribution of powers among the three departments.

This argument, of course, does not apply to the proposal of the Senate committee to allow cabinet officers to discuss and defend administrative policies in either house of Congress. Doubtless such moderate change, however, would be regarded as a step in the direction of a political revolution, and we shall probably continue to maintain, by subterranean and extra-legal methods, the connections between the executive and legislature which are maintained openly and in the full light of public scrutiny in England and in France.

Essays on Government, pp. 25-45.




The innumerable duties to be fulfilled in the execution of federal law under presidential supervision are distributed among nine great departments and certain commissions, established by Congress. Curiously enough, the Constitution makes no direct provision for these branches of the federal administration; but it evidently assumes their existence, for it authorizes the President to require in writing the opinion of the heads of the executive departments, and also gives Congress power to vest in them the appointment of inferior officers. It is on this constitutional basis, therefore, that Congress assumes the power to create departments by law, regulate the duties of their respective heads down to the minutest details, and prescribe their internal organization and the powers and duties of the chiefs of even the minor subdivisions. Occasionally, however, the President takes the initial steps in the organization of a bureau by executive order, and Congress has subsequently sanctioned the act by a special law, or a regular appropriation.


The Heads of Departments The head of a federal department occupies a position radically different from that of a cabinet officer in any other country. He is appointed by the President,' and may be removed by him or by impeachment. His duties, however, are prescribed minutely, not in presidential orders, save in certain instances, but in statutes enacted by Congress. He is responsible to the President for the faithful execution of the law; but the President cannot alter or diminish any of the duties laid down by Congress, and cannot prevent Congress from imposing or taking away duties or from prescribing such minute details as amount to a 1 With the Senate's approval. Above, p. 189.

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