The government of the United States involves the concept in political science known as separation of powers. This concept means that the different branches of government share power amongst themselves. Intricately connected with this concept is the system of checks and balances, which provides that all branches of government may challenge the exercise of power by the other branch. More accurately, this concept ensures that one branch would not encroach upon the power of another branch since each branch is given the power to make sure that the others remain acting within their bounds.
The system of checks and balances was conceptualized by the Framers to ensure that no branch would overstep its boundaries in the exercise of its powers. For Congress, the system of checks and balances is made effective through its power of oversight (USConstitution. net). One example of congressional oversight relates to interceding with agencies on behalf of the interests of their constituents. Through oversight, Congressmen could look into the operations of agencies and determine whether the interests of their constituents are taken into account.
The oversight power of Congress likewise involves the authority to monitor, supervise, and review the activities of the executive branch. The exercise of this power allowed Congress to look out for the interests and benefit of the American people. Examples in history include the opposition to the Vietnam War in the 1960s, and the investigation of the Watergate scandal that unearthed anomalies involving partisan gain (Kaiser, 1988).
Another example of congressional oversight involves other channels, such as meetings with the staffs of legislative and executive officials. Through these meetings and consultations with the executive department, Congress is able to propose changes and suggest policies to the executive branch (Kaiser, 1988). It is clear that congressional oversight is very useful in ensuring that the other branches of government, such as the executive branch, do not overstep their boundaries.
As representatives of the people, Congress occupies a special role in ensuring that the people’s will and interests are protected, and this duty is accomplished through Congress’ power of oversight. References Kaiser, F. M. (1988). Congressional Oversight of the Presidency. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 499(Congress and the Presidency: Invitation to Struggle), 75-89. USConstitution. net. Constitutional Topic: Checks and Balances. Retrieved March 11, 2008, from http://www. usconstitution. net/consttop_cnb. html