Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations


In our current age of unprecedented political polarization, nothing has been more strained by partisanship than the relationship between our President and the Congress with which he must deal. Now in its fifth edition, Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations provides students an unmatched level of insight into the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of our federal government. Edited by James A. Thurber, this new edition includes 11 new chapters by leading scholars, ...

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Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations

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In our current age of unprecedented political polarization, nothing has been more strained by partisanship than the relationship between our President and the Congress with which he must deal. Now in its fifth edition, Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations provides students an unmatched level of insight into the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of our federal government. Edited by James A. Thurber, this new edition includes 11 new chapters by leading scholars, journalists, and former public officials detailing previously unexplored aspects of the necessary rivalry upon which our nation’s governing philosophy was founded centuries ago.
In addition to thorough analyses of the causes of macro-level governmental conflict throughout our history, the book highlights many specific points of contention from President Obama’s first term — from the Dodd-Frank Act, to the “Fast and Furious” gunrunning scandal, to the ongoing battles surrounding the Affordable Care Act and its implementation — as examples of how power, no matter how concentrated or sweeping, is ultimately checked and balanced by our democracy. Students and policy makers alike will find this book a valuable contribution to their understanding of the current state of federal power, and the narrative — the historical origins — of how America’s fundamental rivalry has arrived at its present state.

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Editorial Reviews

Burdett A. Loomis
Once again, Jim Thurber has pulled together a first-rate and diverse set of scholars to examine the perennial tensions between the branches. While partisanship has often taken over the spotlight in analyses of American politics over the past twenty years, inter-branch relationships remain extraordinarily important in explaining cooperation, or its absence. With their differing vantage points and perspectives, these congressional and presidential experts offer a winning combination of specific and general observations, provided with the nuance we’ve come to expect from this consistently excellent volume.
Jasmine Farrier
This collection illuminates and connects the policy, partisan, institutional, and constitutional conflicts that shape current inter-branch dynamics.
Richard J. Gelm
Thurber again brings together some of the finest research on presidential and congressional relations and provides an excellent assessment of the confrontational relationship between these contending government branches. Rich in historical and contemporary analysis, Rivals for Power is an essential text for courses on the Congress and the Presidency and for those seeking deeper insight into the partisan gridlock in Washington and practical recommendations for ways to achieve cooperation.
Robert D. Knight
Students in my Congress and the Presidency course have benefited greatly from James Thurber’s excellent edited volume on presidential-congressional relations. Each reading has stimulated critical thinking and led to engaging classroom discussions. The new Fifth Edition continues the book’s focus on recent scholarship in historical and constitutional perspective, all in accessible form for upper-division undergraduates while still valuable for graduate students. In the field of presidential-congressional relations, currency is essential for making the readings relevant to students. The new edition will have eleven new chapters from leading scholars of presidential-congressional relations, many of whom previously contributed to the Fourth Edition. Most of these new contributions focus on presidential-congressional relations during the Obama Administration. Professor Thurber adds to the new edition a valuable concluding chapter that brings the readings together with a focus on the need for reform. The Fifth Edition continues and improves on an essential resource for any course on presidential-congressional relations.
Inc. Book News
Fifteen chapters, presented by Thurber, explore the dynamics of presidential-congressional rivalry in the United States, largely focusing on the current moment and relations between President Obama and Congress, but mindful of historical precedents and comparative issues. Topics include Obama's first term legislative achievements, the impacts of political polarization of presidential-congressional relations, changes in executive branch size and organization in the 21st century, the impact of "political time" (the ways terms in office can define the makeup of congress over shorter or longer periods) on inter-branch relations, the impact of hyperpartisanship on Obama's relations with congressional party leaderships, the role of interest groups, the role of the media, the battle between Obama and the Congress over the federal budget, the politics of federal regulation, presidential-congressional relations in foreign policy, the congressional perspective on inter-branch relations, and the presidential use of unilateral action.
David T. Canon
This excellent collection of essays by many of the leading scholars in the field provides a roadmap for understanding
Presidential/Congressional relations at the turn of the century. Using a variety of research approaches and covering a broad range of topics, these authors tackle the central problems of governing in an era of divided partisan control of Washington.
Susan Page
President Clinton's impeachment and the remarkable 2000 election underscore the continuing, complicated competition between the White House and Congress. James Thurber's Rivals for Power is written not only by those who study the history of Washington policy-making, but also those who helped create that history. Foreign policy negotiations are seen through the eyes of a former House Foreign Affairs chairman; federal spending by a former Budget director; building congressional alliances by a former top White House aide charged with doing just that. This insider's guide is thoughtful, readable, and sometimes surprising—an invaluable resource for scholars, students, journalists, C-SPAN addicts, and political junkies of all stripes.
Roger B. Porter
This outstanding collection of original essays provides genuine insights into the historical and current relationship of the President and Congress from both leading scholars and practitioners. Fresh, challenging, and filled with many gems this volume should be read by students and by policy makers on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Nelson W. Polsby
The newspapers and television news are filled with stories about gridlock and rivalry between Congress and the presidency. But only in good political science such as is practiced by James Thurber and his colleagues can readers see the historical, political, and constitutional foundations of conflict between the political branches and learn to appreciate the political skills that underpin cooperative policy-making in the American political system.
Norman Ornstein
This collection of smart, insightful essays by an impressive combination of Washington insiders and top political scholars gives a lively and penetrating view of the contemporary relationship between the presidency and congress. It is a terrific resource for students, researchers and political practitioners.
April 2010 CHOICE
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442222588
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/11/2013
  • Edition description: Fifth Edition
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 370
  • Sales rank: 661,126
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

James A. Thurber is University Distinguished Professor of Government and founder and director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University in Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1:
“An Introduction to Presidential-Congressional Rivalry”
Professor James A. Thurber, Distinguished Professor and Director, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies and Department of Government, American University.

Chapter 2:
“Obama’s First-term Legislative Presidency: Partisan Not Personal”
Professor Stephen Wayne, Professor, Department of Government, Georgetown University.

Chapter 3:
“White House Congressional Relations in a Polarized Age”
Dr. Patrick Griffin, Associate Director for Public Policy Programs at the Center for Congressional and Presidential, American University and Gary Andres, Staff Director of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Chapter 4
“Organizing the 21st Century White House”
Professor James Pfiffner, University Professor; Director, Doctoral Program in Public Policy, George Mason University.

Chapter 5: The Presidency and Congressional Time
Professor Roger Davidson, Professor Emeritus of Government and Politics at the University of. Maryland, College Park.

Chapter 6:
“The President and the Congressional Party Leadership in a Hyper-Partisan Era”
Professor Barbara Sinclair, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, UCLA.

Chapter 7:
“The President, Congress and Lobbyists: Has President Obama Changed the Way Washington Works?”
Professor James A. Thurber

Chapter 8:
“The President, Congress and the Media”
Ron Elving, Senior Washington Editor, National Public Radio.

Chapter 9:
“The President, Congress and the Battle over the Budget”
Professor Joe White, Department of Political Science, Case Western University.

Chapter 10:
“Congress, the President and the Politics of Regulation”
Professor Claudia Hartley Thurber, Legal Consultant in Occupational Safety and Health Policy, former Counsel for Health Standards, Occupational and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor.

Chapter 11:
“The President, Congress and Foreign Policy
Lawrence Korb, Senior Scholar, Center for American Progress and Alex Rothman, Research Associate, Center for American Progress.

Chapter 12:
“Obama’s Constitutional Conflicts with Congress”
Louis Fisher, Scholar in Residence at the Cato Institute.

Chapter 13:
“Congress and President Obama: A Perspective”
Walter J. Oleszek, Adjunct Professor at American University and Senior Specialist in American Government at the Congressional Research Service And Mark Oleszek, Assistant Professor at Albright College.

Chapter 14:
“Rivals Only Sometimes: Presidentialism, Unilateralism and Congressional Acquiescence in Obama’s “Ongoing Struggle” Against Terrorism”
Professor John Owens, Research Fellow, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University

Chapter 15:
“Assessing Presidential-Congressional Relations: A Need for Reform?”
Professor James A. Thurber

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