The Congressional Research Service departed from its usual focus on current policy and legislative issues to produce a new disquisition on the separation of powers in the U.S. government.
The separation of powers doctrine “is rooted in a political philosophy that aims to keep power from consolidating in any single person or entity, and a key goal of the framers of the Constitution was to establish a governing system that diffused and divided power.”
However, the branches do not always act in their own structural interests (as is often the case in congressional oversight of intelligence, for example). “Although each branch has strong incentives to protect its prerogatives, in many cases individual political actors have incentives that run counter to their institutional affiliation. In particular, political actors will often, quite reasonably, place the short-term achievement of substantive policy goals ahead of the long-term preservation of institutional power for their branch of government.”
CRS concludes that “the contemporary balance of power between the President, Congress, and the courts is not the same as it was in 1789, and is perhaps not the balance intended or expected by the framers of the Constitution.”
In any case, “the relative power of the President, Congress, and the courts is not on any specific trajectory. At various times since the ratification of the Constitution, the power of each institution has been at times ascendant and at other times on the decline.” See Separation of Powers: An Overview, January 8, 2016
Other Congressional Research Service reports that were issued last week include the following.
History and Conflict at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, CRS Insight, January 7, 2016
Big Data in U.S. Agriculture, January 6, 2016
Federal Health Centers: An Overview, January 6, 2015
Escalating Violence in El Salvador, CRS Insight, January 7, 2016
Perspectives on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, January 8, 2016
Electric Grid Physical Security: Recent Legislation, January 6, 2016
Detonating a nuclear weapon in space would not only damage U.S. assets but those of all countries, including Russia. It would set back the use of space for multiple purposes – peaceful and otherwise – by decades.
These policy proposals will simplify the affordable housing qualification process for all federal housing programs, primarily focusing on PBV and LIHTC, to move eligible households into vacant units more quickly.
A uniform software tool for inputting building permit data would make the U.S. Census Bureau’s Building Permit Survey (BPS) more reliable, and it would also facilitate more fine-grained geographical analysis of new housing development.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) should prioritize funding water projects for local governments that would expand the production of new housing in their service areas if given the water resources to do so.