Congressional oversight during President Reagan’s two terms: did it fail or was it no longer sufficient?
This thesis discusses congressional oversight during the first and second term of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. In the nearly 250 years since the Founding Fathers, the relation between Congress and the Executive has altered considerably. Most especially, over the course of the 20th century, the Executive has according to many become not only more powerful but too powerful relative to Congress. This thesis examines this relation on the basis of the Reagan administration’s policy towards Nicaragua. The core research question is as follows: was President Reagan able to implement the Reagan Doctrine in Nicaragua due to Congress having too little power to correctly check and balance the Executive? Or did Congress have adequate powers but fail to properly apply them? The relevance of this topic lies in the fact that the relationship between the executive and the legislative is no longer as the Founding Fathers had envisioned it to be, but has changed over the course of its existence. In the 1980s then, this became particularly clear when the Reagan Administration broke a multitude of laws in order to achieve its desired objective, which was overthrowing the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. This thesis explores the battle of the executive and legislative branch to gain, or retain the initiative regarding foreign policy making during that time, and in particular how Congress conducted oversight over the actions of the executive.
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