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House Resolutions of Inquiry

House Resolutions of Inquiry

Date: May 12, 2003
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: The resolution of inquiry is a House procedure that seeks factual information from the executive branch. The resolution is privileged and may be considered at any time after it is properly reported or discharged from committee. It applies only to requests for facts––not opinions––within the Administration’s control. This report explains the history, procedure, specific uses of resolutions of inquiry, and identifies the use thus far in the 108th Congress (H.Res. 68).
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Federal Recess Judges

Federal Recess Judges

Date: February 2, 2005
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: This report discusses the recess clause and takes a look at the history of recess appointments. Under Article II of the Constitution, the President is empowered "to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session." Presidents have used the recess appointment power on more than 300 occasions to place judges on the district, appellate, and U.S. Supreme Court level. This practice slowed after the 1950s, but recent recess appointments to federal appellate courts (the Fourth, Fifth, and Eleventh Circuits) have revived a number of constitutional issues.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
State Techniques to Blunt the Governor's Item-Veto Power

State Techniques to Blunt the Governor's Item-Veto Power

Date: December 12, 1996
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Line Item Veto Act of 1996: Lessons from the States

Line Item Veto Act of 1996: Lessons from the States

Date: December 26, 1996
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Congressional Investigations: Subpoenas and Contempt Power

Congressional Investigations: Subpoenas and Contempt Power

Date: April 2, 2003
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: When conducting investigations of the executive branch, congressional committees and Members of Congress generally receive the information required for legislative needs. If agencies fail to cooperate or the President invokes executive privilege, Congress can turn to a number of legislative powers that are likely to compel compliance. The two techniques described in this report are the issuance of subpoenas and the holding of executive officials in contempt. These techniques usually lead to an accommodation that meets the needs of both branches. Litigation is used at times, but federal judges generally encourage congressional and executive parties to settle their differences out of court. The specific examples in this report explain how information disputes arise and how they are resolved.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Congressional Access to Executive Branch Information: Legislative Tools

Congressional Access to Executive Branch Information: Legislative Tools

Date: May 17, 2001
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: This report begins by reviewing the precedents established during the Washington Administration for withholding documents from Congress. Close examination reveals that the scope of presidential privilege is often exaggerated. Congress had access to more documentation than is commonly believed and might have had more had it pressed for it. Subsequent sections focus on various forms of congressional leverage: the power of the purse, the power to impeach, issuing congressional subpoenas, holding executive officials in contempt, House resolutions of inquiry, GAO investigations, and blocking nominations, all of which may force executive officials to release documents they would otherwise want to keep private and confidential. Even if Presidents announce perfectly plausible grounds for withholding documents, they may have to comply with the congressional will to achieve other more important goals.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
A Presidential Item Veto

A Presidential Item Veto

Date: December 2, 2004
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: During a news conference on November 4, 2004, President George W. Bush stated that he “would like to see the President have a line-item veto again, one that passed constitutional muster. I think it would help the executive branch work with the legislative branch to make sure that we’re able to maintain budget discipline.” The Supreme Court struck down an earlier version of item-veto authority (the Line Item Veto Act of 1996) in Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998), but several statutory alternatives are available. Options to the Line Item Veto Act have been proposed over the years, including an amendment to the Constitution to grant the President item-veto authority. The line-item veto is listed among several budget reform proposals included in the FY2005 budget, but a more specific recommendation is expected to be developed by the Administration and submitted to Congress at the start of the 109th Congress. This report analyzes the statutory and constitutional alternatives that are likely to be considered and will be updated as necessary.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Item Veto: Budgetary Savings

Item Veto: Budgetary Savings

Date: May 26, 2005
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Committee Controls of Agency Decisions

Committee Controls of Agency Decisions

Date: November 16, 2005
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: Congress has a long history of subjecting certain types of executive agency decisions to committee control, either by committees or subcommittees. Especially with the beginning of World War II, the executive branch agreed to committee controls as an accommodation that allowed Congress to delegate authority and funds broadly while using committees to monitor the use of that discretionary authority. These committee-agency arrangements took the form of different procedures: simply notifying the committee, obtaining committee approval, "coming into agreement" understandings, and using the congressional distinction between authorization and appropriation to exercise committee controls. This report explains how and why committee vetoes originated, the constitutional objections raised by the executive branch, the Court’s decision in Chadha, and the continuation of committee review procedures since that time.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Detention of U.S. Citizens

Detention of U.S. Citizens

Date: April 28, 2005
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: In 1971, Congress passed legislation to repeal the Emergency Detention Act of 1950 and to enact the following language: “No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress.” The new language, codified at 18 U.S.C. §4001(a), is called the Non-Detention Act. This statutory provision received attention after the 9/11 terrorist attacks when the Administration designated certain U.S. citizens as “enemy combatants” and claimed the right to detain them indefinitely without charging them, bringing them to trial, or giving them access to counsel. In litigation over Yaser Esam Hamdi and Jose Padilla, both designated enemy combatants, the Administration has argued that the Non-Detention Act restricts only imprisonments and detentions by the Attorney General, not by the President or military authorities.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Recess Appointments of Federal Judges

Recess Appointments of Federal Judges

Date: September 5, 2001
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Military Tribunals: Historical Patterns and Lessons

Military Tribunals: Historical Patterns and Lessons

Date: July 9, 2004
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Military Tribunals: The Quirin Precedent

Military Tribunals: The Quirin Precedent

Date: March 26, 2002
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
The Pocket Veto: Its Current Status

The Pocket Veto: Its Current Status

Date: March 30, 2001
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
National Security Whistleblowers

National Security Whistleblowers

Date: December 30, 2005
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
The Line Item Veto Act

The Line Item Veto Act

Date: November 26, 1996
Creator: Fisher, Louis & McMurtry, Virginia A
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
The Line Item Veto Act: Procedural Issues

The Line Item Veto Act: Procedural Issues

Date: December 2, 1996
Creator: Fisher, Louis & McMurtry, Virginia A
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Congressional Oversight Manual

Congressional Oversight Manual

Date: October 21, 2004
Creator: Fisher, Louis; Kaiser, Frederick M; Oleszek, Walter J & Rosenberg, Morton
Description: Throughout its history, Congress has engaged in oversight of the executive branch — the review, monitoring, and supervision of the implementation of public policy. The first several Congresses inaugurated such important oversight techniques as special investigations, reporting requirements, resolutions of inquiry, and use of the appropriations process to review executive activity. Contemporary developments, moreover, have increased the legislature’s capacity and capabilities to check on and check the Executive. Public laws and congressional rules have measurably enhanced Congress’s implied power under the Constitution to conduct oversight.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department