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Connecting the President's Cabinet to Legislation

Updated on September 2, 2010


     Each year Congress meets in session for several months.  During this time various legislations are initiated to address issues which face our country.  While it is not clear in some respects what causes certain legislation to be generated all are meant to address issues which they feel are important to the general public.  Many issues are controversial in the eyes of the public along with the approaches taken to address them.  There are hundreds or maybe thousands of legislative proposals initiated each year and not all of them obtain final agreement and passage.

Once legislation is passed by both houses of Congress it is sent to the President for signature and then it becomes law.  This starts the process of enforcement.  The remainder of this article will discuss this portion of the process and how each of the cabinet level departments is connected to the various legislations enacted into law.

     To begin it must be understood that Congress does not necessarily have the means to enforce laws that are enacted though they can hold hearings involving issues related to laws and regulations.  These are held to determine any measures that may need to be taken to resolve issues which surface.  Enforcement of legislation is accomplished for the most part by the cabinet level departments and the agencies under them.  There are some exceptions where agencies do not fall under this organizational structure. 

     Enforcement by the cabinet level departments is accomplished through regulations and/or policies issued by the various agencies or departments for which they are responsible.  It is important to point out legislation enacted must clearly define those departments or agencies responsible for or involved in the enforcement of the requirements. 

     Many times various department heads can be seen testifying before Congressional committees.  There are two purposes of this activity.  The first is to provide insight into the present operations of a department when enforcement problems surface.  This sometimes involves the lack of authority to address specific conditions.  The second purpose is to provide input to laws or regulations being considered for which the department or agency may ultimately become responsible. 

     The question which needs to be asked is how the topics of legislation are chosen.  To begin laws are usually not generated out of thin air.  They have a purpose in mind when it is being created.  Often times various departments or agencies provide input to various members of Congress if a topic falls under their jurisdiction.  In the matter of constitutional law the Attorney General has the responsibility to provide opinions as they relate to the constitutionality of specific requirements being considered in legislation. 

     As with the government agencies and departments covered in previous articles the need for regulations at the department or agency level should be based upon the laws to which they are responsible.  As in most cases the number of laws enacted each year is almost unimaginable with regards to connecting them to the agencies or departments.  The cabinet of the President and the departments they supervise involve numerous agencies and the regulations they create to enforce the legislation to which they are entrusted. 

     To summarize legislation becomes law when the President signs it and then the enforcement begins.  It is important that the clarity of the legislation be present not only for which agency or agencies are tasked with enforcement but the details of what needs to be enforced.  Many times legislation is open to interpretation.  Granted having interpretation in legislation is not necessarily a bad thing as the agencies and departments need to have some leverage as to the methods needed to enforce legislation.  Legislation needs to be detailed but not to the extent that it ties the hands of those tasked to enforce it.  Another point which must be or should be addressed in legislation is what are the limits of the authority being given?  In this respect the criteria should be established when a department or agency must ask for more authority from Congress.    



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