Bridging the Constitutional Divide
Inside the White House Office of Legislative Affairs
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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List of Participants: White House Congressional Affairs Symposium,September 12–13, 2003
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This book is the record of a two-day symposium on White House congressional relations held at the Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia, on September 12–13, 2003. It is primarily a transcribed group oral history, featuring the spoken recollections of seven former heads of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, spanning the presidencies of Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton.
1. Bridging the Constitutional Divide: An Introduction
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The peculiarities of the American political system can be mystifying to foreign observers because our government does not feature a unitary sovereign. Rather, at the center of the American government is a process: an ongoing competition between the legislative and executive branches to direct the nation’s public affairs. Critics as far back as the American founding derided this design as awkward and unwieldy,...
2. The Job Description: The Scope of the Congressional Liaison’s Responsibilities
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The main topics discussed during this session include the primary components of the congressional relations job; the challenges of bringing the president’s influence to bear on Capitol Hill; the problems of dealing with multiple channels to the Hill from the White House and the rest of the executive branch; the CL’s customer service role; the business of representing Capitol Hill to the White House and the risks of being perceived as “going native”;...
3. The Partisan Dimension: Working with Your Party—and the Other
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The main topics discussed during this session include the difficulties—and opportunities—of working in an environment of divided party control of the presidency and Congress; how the White House deals with party and issue leaders on Capitol Hill; the challenges of maintaining unity and discipline within the president’s own party; the process and techniques of vote counting on the Hill;...
4. Bicameralism: Working with the House and the Senate
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The main topics discussed in this session include the different political cultures in the House and Senate and how those influence the White House’s approach to the Hill; the role of the vice president in congressional relations, and more generally, the involvement of the vice president in the policy making process in the White House; the politics of conference committees; summit negotiations;...
5. Working with and for the President: The President’s Style, Political Circumstances, and Priorities
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The main topics discussed in this session include how the congressional liaison job has changed or remained the same over the last fifty years; differences between the first and second terms; using the president’s time; presidential anger; White House involvement in congressional elections; the congressional relations dimension of executive orders; civility in Washington; communications strategies;...
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Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2010