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Blending Powers: Hamilton, FDR, and the Backlash That Shaped Modern Congress

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 January 2021

BILL FARLEY*
Affiliation:
Virginia Commonwealth University, USA

Abstract

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt shaped the role of the modern president in part with his relentless pursuit of grand policies and his ability to marshal historic legislation through Congress. In this article, I focus on one legislative tactic employed by FDR that has received little attention—the detailing of Executive Branch staff to select Senate committees. This tactic, effectively a blending of legislative powers, was used to implement FDR’s ambitious postwar domestic agenda as detailed in his Second Bill of Rights. I find that the tactic, used late in FDR’s presidency, was moderately effective, served as a substitute for the personal energy FDR applied to the presidency in his first term, and created a backlash that contributed to the adoption of the Legislative Reform Act of 1946. With these findings I conclude that FDR deserves credit as a transitionary figure for the modernity of Congress, as well as the presidency.

Type
Article
Copyright
© Donald Critchlow and Cambridge University Press 2021

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