Don't lose sight of how things work

Pay attention! But only to the stuff that really matters


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By —— Bio and Archives March 20, 2017

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This will probably be one of the most not-read commentaries on this site, because it is not politically sexy or provocative. It’s just a reminder of how our political process works, but too many people seem to go brain dead when patience is required, or get emotionally stressed over the small stuff.

We have three co-equal branches of government, the Executive (headed by the president), the Legislative consisting of the House and the Senate, and the Judicial. It’s called a system of checks and balances even if we do not always agree with their actions or decisions.

The president can issue executive orders to all federal agencies concerning priorities and the enforcement of laws and regulations. But if someone files a court challenge, then it must go through the judicial process. This is what happened with the executive orders concerning a ban on people trying to come into this country from certain known terrorist countries. It’s a pain, but it does not mean the court challenge is correct. It just means the strict enforcement of the law is delayed, because some bleeding-heart liberal doesn’t like it.

The president can issue his national and budget priorities, which he has done recently, but they must ultimately be approved by Congress. This means both the House and the Senate. It behooves them to concur with as many of the president’s priorities as possible, since legislation ultimately require his signature and approval to become law.

That’s why it’s important that the president and the Congress are on the same page legislatively. It helps if the president and Congress are of the same political party, but that’s still no guarantee for successful legislation. For example, they are on the same page with respect to the Republicans’ American Health Care Act, but there are some Republicans in Congress who are not on the same page yet.

The process for something to become law is sometimes described as “making sausage”. That’s a metaphor for the fact that a simple majority in the House (50 percent plus one), a simple majority in the Senate under certain conditions, and the president’s approval are required for it to become the law of the land.

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