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Letter of transmittal
Table of Contents
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COMMITTEE ON.INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
THOMAS E. MORGAN, Pennsylvania, Chairman
CLEMENT J. ZABLOCKI, Wisconsin
L. H. FOUNTAIN, North Carolina
DANTE B. FASCELL, Florida
CHARLES C. DIGGS, JR., Michigan
ROBERT N. C. NIX, Pennsylvania
DONALD B. FRASER, Minnesota
BENJAMIN S. ROSENTHAL, New York
LEE H. HAMILTON, Indiana
LESTER L. WOLFF, New York
JONATHAN B. BINGHAM, New York
GU'S YATRON, Pennsylvania
ROY A. TAYLOR, North Carolina
MICHAEL HARRINGTON, Massachusetts
LEO J. RYAN, California
DONALD W. RIEGLE. JR., Michigan
CARDISS COLLINS, Illinois
STEPHIIEN J. SOLARZ, New York
HELEN S. MEYNER, New Jersey
DON BONKER, Washington
GERRY E. STUDDS, Massachusetts
WILLIAM S. BROOMFIELD, Michigan
EDWARD J. DERWINSKI, Illinois
PAUL FINDLEY, Illinois
JOHN H. BUCHANAN, JR., Alabama
J. HERBERT BURKE, Florida
PIERRE S. DU PONT, Delaware
CHARLES W. WHALEN, JR., Ohio
EDWARD G. BIESTER, JL., Pennsylvania
LARRY WINN, JR., Kansas
BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York
TENNYSON GUYER, Ohio
ROBERT J. LAGOMARSINO, California
JOJ.N J. BRADY, Jr., Chief of Staff
SPECIAL SUBCOMMITTEE ON INV'STiATIONS
LEE H. HAMILTON, Indiana, Chairman
L. II. FOUINTAIN, North Carolina
;GUS YATIRON, Pennsylvania
DON BONKIER, Washington
PIERRE S. DU POINT, Delaware
LARRY WINN, JR., Kansas
MICHAEL H. VAN DUSEN, Subcommittee Staff Consultant
ALISON L. BIKtENNER, Minority Subconmmittee Staff Consultant
SANDY DECKER, Staff Assistant
RONAI.D L. SORIANO, Research Asn.istant
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
CoMMITrrrEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS,
Washingtan, D.C., Janz ary 2,1977.
This report has been submitted to the Committee on International
Relations by Hon. Lee H. Hamilton, chairman of the Special Sub-
committee on Investigations.
The findings and recommendations in this report are those of the
Special Subcommittee on Investigations and do not necessarily reflect
the views of the membership of the full Committee on International
THoxAs E. MORGAN, Chairman.
Digitized by the Internet Archive
LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
JANUA.RY 2, 1977.
Hon. THOMAS E. MORGAN,
Chairmn.an, Con m ittee on International Relations,
DEAR Mn. CHAIR3MAN: I enclose a report of the Special Siibcommit-
tee on Investigations, with recommendations. In making this report,
our subcommittee found most helpful the testimony of 17 witnesses
with expertise on the subject of Congress and foreign policy and with
experience in the executive and legislative branches of Government.
Their testimony was heard from June to September 1976.
This report attempts to determine what some of the chanracteristics
and problems of executive-legislative relations have been, and offers
some suggestions on how these problems can be addre.ssed and how
Congress* appropriate role in foreign policymaking formulation can
be best insured.
I believe this report will be helpful and useful to Members of Con-
gress, executive branch officials, and all other persons interested in
ameliorating executive-legislative relations and the processes by
which American foreign policy is formulated and executed.
While the conclusions, recommendations, and findings of this re-
port represent a consensus of the members of the subcommittee, not
all members of the subcommittee endorse all of them, and each is at
liberty to agree or disagree with specific statements and recommenda-
tions in the report.
As a personal note I would like to thank Joseph Mont ville, a 1976
Congressional Fellow sponsored by the American Political Science
Association, who served in my office for several months and assisted
ine during this inquiry.
Your comments and those of any of our colleagues on the full
committee would be most welcome.
LEE H. HAMILTON,
Chairman, Special Subcon mittee on Investigations.
Foreword --------------------------- III
Letter of transmittal--------------------------------------------- v
I. Conclusions ------------------------------------------------- 1
II. Recommendations -------------------------------------------- 4
III. Findings --------------------------------------------------- 16
A. Nature of the problem--------------------------- -------16
B. Strengths and weaknesses of the legislative branch of
Government ---------------------------------------- 18
C. Strengths and weaknesses of the executive branch----------- 21
D. Executive-legislative interaction---------.----------------- 23
1. Relations between tlhe executive and legislative branches need
urgent attention and improvement, lest existing frictions seriously
impair the attainment of U.S. foreign policy objectives.
Solutions to the foreign policy problems confronting the Nation
require a measure of domestic consensus, new emphases in our foreign
policy initiatives, and quite possibly a new style in the conduct of our
foreign affairs., all of which will depend on better relations between
the two branches of Government and a mutual understanding of each
branch's role and responsibilities in foreign policy.
2. The breakdown of the remarkable post-Second World War con-
sensus during the Vietnam war has been followed by a further deteri-
oration of executive-legislative relations because of a series of foreign
The problem facing both Congress and the executive branch is not
so much the necessity to rebuild a new foreign policy consensus as it
is the need to achieve a working relationship between the two branches
that will enhance the United States' capability to conduct a democratic
and effective foreign policy. Periods of consensus between the legisla-
tive and executive branches of Government on foreign policy matters
have been the exception rather than the rule throughout American
The duality of responsibility inherent in the Constitution of the
United States and the American system of government has made the
achievement of consensus in foreign affairs a difficult and painstaking
process for both branches of Government.
3. Despite disagreement between the executive and legislative
branches on some foreign policy initiatives in recent years, many im-
portant areas of agreement between the two branches remain.
Agreement between the two branches was illustrated by the major
foreign policy initiatives of the immediate post-war period, such as
U.S. participation in the United Nations, the Truman doctrine, and
the Marshall plan. Congress and the executive branch have continued
to agree on such fundamental issues as the security of Western Europe
and Japan and the peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict.
Congress has been supportive of such initiatives as economic as-
sistance programs, the initial opening up of relations with the People's
Republic of China, and strategic arms limitations talks. Today, con-
cern over world economic developments and a growing awareness of
the requirements of the new international economic order provide
great opportunities for expanding areas of agreement between tihe
4. The Constitution provides that foreign policy powers are stared
by both the President and the Congreqs.
This constitutional mandate requires the continuing assertion of
congressional activism in foreign policy matters.
War powers, treaty powers, appointive powers, and "foreign com-
merce" powers are all shared powers under the Constitution, requiring
the Congress to play an important and continuing role in tlhe
formulation of foreign policy.
5. Our constitutional system is predicated on a certain tension and
adversary relationship between Congress and the executive branch,
particularly in foreign policy.
However, each branch must not let adversary considerations domi-
nate the relationship. For relations to ameliorate, the executive branch
must be more willing to consult with the Congress in a timely and
adequate fashion, prior to taking action, while Congress must be
willing to accept the responsibilities and burdens of fuller participa-
tion in the policy process.
Controversies over what type of domestic consensus is to be sought
and tlhe difficulty of achieving an agreed consensus have contributed
to the adversary relationship between the two branches. The present
adversary relationship has been both a cause and an effect of the
breakdown in the foreign policy consensus over the past decade.
6. Many of the problems affecting legislative-executive relations are
attitudinal rather than structural, and no amount of structural innova-
tions will solve them.
Although a congressional "joint committee on national security" has
often been mentioned as a ready palliative for the deficiencies of ex-
ecutive-legislative relations, it is highly doubtful that such a com-
mittee, cumbersome in size of membership and principally composed
of committee chairmen and ranking members with many competing
interests and commitments, would solve the attitudinal problems of
The executive branch, in spite of declarations to the contrary, often
considers Congress at best a nuisance, and will always prefer it to play
a minimal role in the foreign policy process. On numerous occasions
executive branch officials have not been sufficiently responsive to Con-
.,ress desire to influence the foreign policy formulation process, have
refused to consult in a timely or adequate fashion with Congress, and
have tended to consider Congressmen and their staffs as unqualified
participants in the foreign policymaking process.
At thle same time. Members of Congress have often adopted views
based on narrow and parochial interests that represent part, but not
all. of tlhe factors involved in complicated foreign policy decisions.
Many Mfembers are also iinwilling to make decisions and accept re-
sponsibility for their colsoquencrs. If Congress is to play an effective
role,. more of its Members need to maintain a sustained interest, be
less motivated by parochial concerns, nnd be more willing to accept
responsibilities inherent in a foreign pollcymakin role.
7. From a legislative viewpoint, the cuIx of the problem between
flip execiitivo bran'hi and the Congrr.e:s in foreign policy today is the
in:iqiiateo state of consn ltation between the two branches.
If the executive branch and Congress are able to agree on what con-
sultation should involve, which Members of Congress are to be con-
sulted, and at what point in the decisionmaking process consultation
ought to occur, the potential for conflict between the two branches can
be reduced and a better working relationship can be facilitated.
To insure such consultation. Congress may have to enact legislation
that requires consultation for certain types of executive action (secu-
rity assistance, energy policy, trade policy), as the War Powers
Resolution does for tlhe commitment of American troops into hostil-
ities. Congress can also induce consultation by requiring that a certain
action be expressly authorized by Congress or by providing for a
legislative veto of certain actions. Such legislative controls require the
executive branch to consult extensively, carefully, and promptly, with
Congress or its designated representatives to insure that whatever
action it intends to take is not negated by Congress.
However, no matter how routinized and accepted a practice con-
sultation might become, Members of Congress need to be wary of the
tendency to be co-opted by the executive branch. Consultation should
not preempt the congressional role as critic and overseer of the execu-
tive branch. A degree of balance between the confrontation generated
by an historical adversary relationship and the co-optation risked by
close relations with the executive branch must always be the goal.
t8. From the executive branch's perspective, the principal obstacles
to better executive-legislative relations are the diffusion of power and
responsibility in Congress, the multiplicity of members' interests and
opinions, and congressional tendencies to undertake legislative initia-
tives that impair the implementation of foreign policy objectives.
SA large number of committees and subcommittees with overlapping
jurisdictions deal with foreign policy issues in Congress, placing heavy
burdens on the executive branch, especially the State Department, in
its effort to consult with Menmbers of Congress.
The executive branch feels confronted by 535 opinions rather than
presented with a coherent body or a centralized group representative of
that body. Congress' inability to harmonize conflicting interests and to
consider foreign policy in its totality, are major concerns of the
Although Congress may be difficult to consult with, its inherent
strength is its representativeness of the divergent opinions of the
American people. In seeking to build a consensus on foreign policy, the
executive branch should respect Congress' role in a democratic society,
realize that there are a few ways to deal with the problems a diverse
and democratic body presents, and be determined to work with Con-
gress for the rood of the Nation.
9. Tlhe activism of Congress in foreign policy is healthy and will
An activist Congress can be a vital element of our democratic process.
The activism of Confress has been spurred, in part, by the gr-owi-ng
interest of Members in foreign affairs, a greater concern about inter-
national relations by tlhe American people and the increasing inter-
relationship between dolnestic and international probleins.
1. Both Houses of Congress should reform committee struc-
tures, streamline jurisdictions and improve intercommittee co-
ordination on foreign policy issues. The foreign affairs committees
of both Houses should have overall responsibility in coordinating
the foreign policy activities of Congress. The practice of using
sequential or concurrent referral of the most important legisla-
tion affecting foreign relations to the foreign affairs committees
of both Houses should be established.
Conlir.ess mln-t. solve the problems of overlapping and disparate
committee jurisdiction if it is to play a coherent and effective role in
the conduct of American foreign policy. The foreign affairs commit-
tees of both Houses must be accorded primary and principal responsi-
bility for foreign affairs in Congress. This would improve significantly
Congress* ability to look at foreign policy problems from a broad
In instances in which they do not have jurisdiction, the House Inter-
national Rlations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Com-
mittee should be given sequential referral of all important legislation
with foreign policy consequences. In cases where sequential referral
is not possible or desirable, the House International Relations Com-
mittee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should seek con-
Coneiurrent or sequential referral of the most important legislation
vith foreign policy implications to the Senate Foreign Relations Com-
mittee and the House International Relations Committee, is a proce-
dure that would strengthen those committees' coordination and over-
sight capablilities in foreign policy. (Sequential and concurrent
referral of legislation is provided for in the 93d Congress' H. Res.
988 as adoptedd, the Committee Reform Amendments of 1974.)
The International Relations Committee should also move swiftly
to exercise its special review power over foreign intelligence activities,
especially since no other procedure presently exists in the House of
Representatives to perform such an important oversight function.
In anly ovent. it is of crucial importance to the foreign affairs coim-
mitt,,ss' abilities to coordinate and review foreign policy issues as a
wMle0. tl:iat ;1 Py Ho sC. St liIe, or joilit initelligeice committee not be-
comle a ,oiml p1Ieting or independeliht center of congressional oversight
of foreign 1 1 iicy /ir.,er se.
Fl,'rttermo(re, since liiic'ai proliferation andl foreign economic pol-
icy lia1v iIlpIoritant nation ml security and foreign policy ramifications,
thev are atieis in which the House Iniiteriatioiial Relations Committee
and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should intensify their
participation by seeking greater oversight and legislative jurisdiction
Since 17 out of the 22 standing committees of the House of Rep-
resentatives consider aspects of foreign policy, while in the Senate,
16 of 19 committees deal with foreign policy issues, committee reform
is essential if the Congress is to help develop a single, purposeful
Undoubtedly, some jurisdictional overlap between, committees will
remain. To function more effectively within this framework, the
leadership and the chairmen .and ranking minority members of the
several committees dealing with international issues, in both Houses,
should meet periodically, either separately or jointly, to re solve con-
flicting interests and coordinate congressional action on foreign policy
The HIouse International Relations Committee and the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee should follow closely the legislative
work of other committees, which involves foreign policy matters and,
if necessary, communicate their concerns to such committees, whether
or not the legislation is referred either sequentially or concurrently to
the foreign affairs committees.
To assist in this process, the International Relations and Foreign
Relations Committees should designate staff members to follow the
foreign affairs activities of other committees in each House and to
monitor the consideration by other committees of legislation which
has been voted out of the International Relations, and Foreign Rela-
2. While the current practice of holding hearings in various
committees on the same foreign policy issues provides checks and
balances invaluable to the congressional oversight function, joint
hearings among committees and subcommittees with overlapping
jurisdictions and even joint hearings between House and Senate
committees and subcommittees should be initiated.
In some cases, joint hearings can generate miore con;-it.nt and
coherent consideration of and debate on foreign policy problems con-
fronting the Congress. Joint hearings could reduce the often excessive
amounts of time spent by high-ranking executive branch officials testi-
fying on particular issues and avoid unnecessary duplication and
repetition. It could also help to prevent the inclination by some execu-
tive agencies to try to play one committee off again-t another.
Hearings between subcommittees of different committees of the same
House, or between subcommittees of the House and Senate would also
be desirable. In some instances, they would also be preferable to joint
hearings between full committees since they would be less unwieldy
and easier to organize. Furthermore, they would allow more flexibility
and greater indepth examination in their consideration of foreign
1 A list of these committees can be found in the "Findings" section "(p. 20).
3. To exercise Congress' oversight powers more effectively, the
House International Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee should hold hearings more frequently, both
at the committee and subcommittee levels, on subjects not directly
related to legislation.
If the Congress intends to play a principal role in shaping foreign
policy, it must develop an ability to anticipate and investigate prob-
lems. The existing hearing structure must therefore be used more often
as a vehicle for inquiries not directly related to expiring or new legis-
lation. Such policy inquiries would be less "reactive" and less "nega-
tire" than many of Congress' foreign policy initiatives appear to be
The subcommittees of the foreign affairs committees of both Houses
have had a good record of conducting inquiries into policy problems,
which have often had beneficial results, whether or not legislation was
enacted. The capacity to hold such hearings must be used readily and
frequently. To fulfill their oversight mission in a consistent and asser-
tive way, the subcommittees of both the House International Relations
Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee must also
hold frequent hearings whose purpose would be to keep abreast of
important developments in the areas under their jurisdiction.
4. Both the legislative and executive branches must organize
themselves for handling the many pressing international eco-
nomic issues confronting the Nation.
Neither the executive nor the legislative branch is well-organized
to deal with regional and global economic challenges. While inter-
national security issues may have been the crux of AmXinerican foreign
policy concerns in the cold war period, the Nation is faced today with
a series of international economic and social pressures which may gen-
erate the security problems of the future if they are not dealt with.
Congress' ability to consider international trade, finance, mone-
tary, and energy matters, the entire fabric of interdependence is
just as hampered as that of the executive branch by lack of coordina-
tion and clear mandate. Competing executive agencies pursue varied
and often conflicting interests in the area of international economic
policy. A coherent and consistent global economic strategy and effec-
tive coordination will remain elusive if the internal structures of both
branches are not overhauled.
The articulation of foreign economic policy could become the gen-
eral responsibility of the Department of State. Other departments
might participate, as appropriate, in the formulation of policy, but
leadership should be the responsibility of the Department of State.
The importance of foreign economic policy in our external relations
could be emphasized by making it the special responsibility of the
I)eputy Secretary of State. At the very least, the Under Secretary for
Economic Affairs should play a principal role as the executive branch's
spokesman on this subject.
Congress should simultaneously improve its capacity to deal with
international economic matters by reorganizing itself principally as
suggested in recommendation No. 1, particularly by having the foreign
affairs committees acquire primary jurisdiction over international
trade policy, including tariffs.
5. The current system of consultation between the Department
of State, as the principal executive agency responsible for foreign
policy, and the Congress is inadequate and must be improved, with
the emphasis on prior consultation.
The lack of effective consultation over the last several years has
been responsible for much of the tension and distrust that exist today
between the two branches on foreign policy matters. The State De-
partment's adherence to its own concept of consultation has been
matched by Congress' failure to take the initiative to consult with
the executive branch on Congress' legislative proposals.
At the root of the problem is the executive branch's lack of prkwr
and timely consultation with Congress. Consultation by State Depart-
ment officials with more Members of Congress, before decisions are
taken, based on a genuine desire to seek congressional input into deci-
sion formulation, would represent a crucial step in the attempt to
rebuild a good working relationship.
While the State Department's consultative procedures with the
entire Congress need to be strengthened, the foreign affairs commit-
tees of both Houses should continue to receive special attention and
serve as focal points for consultation.
6. In the case of crises or special foreign policy problems, joint
"ad hoc" groups should be instituted to serve as additional focal
points for consultation with the executive branch. Their member-
ships would be chosen by the leadership of each House and would
draw on the staffs of the relevant committees.
These joint bipartisan "ad hoc" groups would go to the White House
to be consulted on important policy matters and would include not
only chairmen and ranking minority members of the four or five
standing committees having international concerns, but also other
members, particularly middle- and junior-ranking members (who
need not necessarily be members of these particular committees) who
are known to have special interest or expertise in the crisis or prob-
lem at hand.
The members of these "ad hoc" groups would be chosen by the leader-
ship of each House. The number of members comprising each of these
groups would be determined by the leadership and vary according
to the nature of the crisis or problem, the availability and expertise
of potential members, and other circumstances as perceived by the
leadership. The membership of these groups would not necessarily be
based on proportional representation.
Because the membership of these "ad hoc" groups would be ap-
pointed by the congressional leadership (rather than by the White
House, as that of current "leadership groups" is), Congress could con-
trol who would be consulted and would have greater leverage in con-
sulting with the executive branch. Consultation through "ad hoc"
groups would come to be regarded as a congressional prerogative and
any White House failure to consult would look less like the White
House refraining from exercising a privilege of consultation and more
like a failure to comply with a congressional mandate.
The staffs of these "ad hoc" groups would be drawn from the per-
onail staffs of the members chosen to compose the groups and from the
-taffs of the aforementioned standing committees.
Drawing on the assistance of the National Security Council staff
and its information, and on the resources of the Department of State,
these groups could perform an essential coordinating function for
Congress as a whole and be a vehicle for congressional input into crisis-
management and other important foreign policy situations.
Such groups would not and could not speak for Congress as a whole
on foreign policy issues, nor would they have permanent charters
as standing committees have. They would be nonlegislative and
The purpose of this type of group would be to give Congress and
the executive branch a broadly representative and authoritative focal
point for consultation without the problems and demands a fully in-
corporated standing "joint committee on national security" might
Discussions and consultation might, in a crisis situation, concentrate
on these groups, but should never be confined solely to them.
These "ad hoc" groups would be empowered to call witnesses to
testify, but the thrust of their activities should be in the form of
direct, constant, and informal contact and consultation with the rele-
vant executive agencies.
Consultation with these groups should not be confined to crisis situa-
tions. Consultation on major and continuing policy concerns could
also occur with "ad hoc" groups, when broad congressional consensus
However, the foreign affairs committees of both Houses should
remain thle principal established foci for consultation between the
7. To enhance further the consultative process, the Department
of State should provide: Regularly scheduled formal briefings
before the foreign affairs committees by senior officials on U.S.
foreign policy activities and international developments; special
briefings before these committees on sudden and developing
crises, without exception and as soon as they occur; and frequent
informal briefings of members by senior and junior State Depart-
ment officials, at the request of individual members and commit-
tees or at the initiative of the State Department itself, on other
foreign policy concerns that may arise. Such briefings should be
complemented by weekly, written "foreign policy bulletins" for
Members of Congress from the regional and functional bureaus
of the Department of State.
The need for Congress to be constantly consulted and informed
in foreign affairs warrants the initiation of nechainisms to insure
th.t. Mefmb)ers of Congress have increased and formal access to senior
officials of the Department of State. Periodlic, form:.'il briefings from
ndir Srrtaris and Assistant Secretcreta ries of State, perhapl)s every 3
11o,01t s., o0n ilhe site of olI rela t ions with foreign nations and on world
:i11d reio]ii political and e(vonoiie developments, would provide
members with a regular opportunity to have contact with our principal
foreign policy executive department.
While the Secretary of State himself would not be relieved of the
obligation to testify before committees of Congress, establishing such
guidelines for other senior officials would ease some of the burdens
placed on the Secretary of State to testify- before congressional
While the upgraded Under Secretary for Congressional Relations
(see recommendation No. 10) should preserve his particular role as
conveyer of State Department policy and liaison with Congress:. the
Under Secretaries for Political Affairs, Economic Affairs, and Scil-
rity Assistance, and the Assistant Secretaries and Directors heading
the various regional and functional bureaus, should testify on a regu-
lar basis: before congressional committees and subcommittees. and be
given :-1.ad authority to speak for and represent the Secretary of
Sue', briefings should be held before the House International Rela-
tions Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (sep-
arately), adopt the format of traditional congressional hearings. an cd
be open or closed, based on mutual agreement between the two
These periodic, regularly scheduled hearings should be sutipple-
mented by special briefings on developing crises and problems that
hit the press suddenly. The executive branch should recognize the need
of Members of Congress for prompt and up-to-the-miniute inforiatinn
and counsel on world events and crises-in-the-making. Members tend
to be crisis-oriented and are invariably called upon to deal v-ith pnr1z-
ing and immediate foreign policy problems rather than with lor'2er
To complement the consultative process and to respond to continu-
ing and crowing interest on the part of many members, the executive
branch, particularly through the Department of State. must react to
world developments with prompt and pertinent briefings on Capitol
Moreover, informal briefings on matters of concern both to Congress
and the exectv, e branch, between Members of Congress and State
Department officials (at senior and junior levels), should be held St
frequently as possible.
These briefings, called either at the request of individual members
or at the initiative of State Department officials, would provide an-
other needed opportunity to maintain a steady flow of information on
a variety of issues that may come up. Informal briefings permit a
freer exchange of information and ideas between Members of Con-
gress and administration officials than do hearings or the suggested
formal briefings. Such informal briefings are additional aud iiseful
sources of information.
In mo4t instances of such briefings, policy options toward imi-
mediate and continuing foreign policy matters should be made avail-
able to Congress. The executive branch should seek to respond to
Congress' desire and need to know what the various aspects and
options of our policy are toward international problem] tliat arice.
Finally, in order to insure a "continuum" of consultation and infor-
mation, regional and functional bureaus in the Department of State
-hoIiill lie required to provide all Members of Congress with weekly,
written "foreign policy bulletins" that would outline significant inter-
national developments and U.S. policy responses. Such bulletins
wIIld -eirve ais important background material for Members of Con-
Lnre.-" P;ii cipating in hearings. "ad hoc" groups, briefings, and
"q',nestion hour" period. (see recommendation No. 8).
Thie executive branch has a continuing responsibility to identify
fo,'i'an. policy problems, existing and anticipated, for Congress' con-
,ideration. The making of a wise and effective foreign policy by the
United States depends on a process of education of Congress, provided
in large measure by briefing and informing, in a timely and continuous
manner, its members and committees, on the complex and numerous
issues of international affairs.
8. Early in the 95th Congress, the executive and legislative
branches should agree to initiate a "question hour"' period, during
which the Secretary of State in particular, but also other Cabinet
officers, answer questions from Members of Congress.
Like thle "question hour" or interpellation period used in the parlia-
(lnt .', s.v-teni of government, the use of such a procedure by the
U.S. Congress will provide direct and regular access to the executive
ranch's senior foreign policy official. He should appear before each
House of Con'ress separately and in alternation, once a month while
Congress is in session.
These sessions would be open to the entire membership of the House
:lid 'Sen,-te, and would take the form of "question-and-answer" pe-
riods. The practice would be limited to foreign policy matters, and
the sessions would be open or closed depending on the sensitivity of
the v11() d;,Iid on the will of the parties.
TIiR devicee would supplement, but not l)e a substitute for, the Secre-
t.rv, of State's appearances before the standing committees of
Oth,,. Cabinet officers who have foreign policy responsibilities
zhonild also appear for such sessions, when requested by Congress,
although presumably not as frequently or periodically as the Secre-
tary of State.
A "q,(1,tion 1our" 1)period on a wide range of issues will help restore
; ,lialon :ind f;'-ilitate the flow of information between both branches
on important matters of foreign policy and national security.
Ground rules for this procedure will hAve to be determined between
the two branches, taking into account Congress' right to know and
,irv. arind the executive branch's justified concern over the possible
Vi.,I-\i fi iii of secret and sensitive information.
9. The legislative veto should continue to be used as a basic
drice for insuring effective prior consultation by the executive
E eu if tlhe cliniate of 'onfid(le.nce between Congress and the execu-
tiv',e lfrf;I-1 ,iI he reestablisled,. tlie legiSlative veto will be essential
as a device of last resort and as a check on the executive branch. When
denied a role in the early stages of policy formulation, Congress,
through the use, or threat of use. of the legislative veto, will be able
to involve itself in the later stages of the policymaking and imple-
Congress will tend to use its veto less frequently if it is consulted
in a timely and regular fashion by the executive branch.
10. The office of Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional
Relations should be upgraded to an Under Secretaryship and be
made a major policymaking post.
Detailed knowledge and comprehension of the inner workings of
the legislative branch should be given greater consideration in the
State Department hierarchy. Upgrading the office can give its holder
more leverage in presenting congressional views, moods, intents, and
demands in high-level discussions within the State Department.
Relations between the State Department and Congress are suffi-
ciently important to command the attention of a policy official at the
highest level. The Under Secretary would continue to serve as the
State Department's primary link to Congress and to be responsible
for day-to-day relations between the State Department and Congress.
The upgraded office should be supported by a strong Congressional
Relations Bureau staff, and by liaison officers in each regional and
functional bureau, who would deal specifically with Congress.
11. Congress must legislate a statutory basis for information
classification and develop new security procedures for handling
classified information and dealing with sensitive intelligence
Early in the 95th Congress. the House International Relations Com-
mittee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should direct
their resl)ective Rules Committees to initiate legislation establishing
a statutory basis for the system of information classification. Such a
statute should insure a congressional role in classification procedures
now exclusively controlled by the executive branch anid would guar-
antee Congress' access to classified documents of all agencies within
the executive branch. It should also provide for restraints and sanc-
tions for misuse of information by Members of Congress and their
staffs (who have appropriate security clearances).
Senate Resolution 400 of the 94th Congress, establishing the Senate
Select Committee on Intelligence, has outlined plausible sanction
procedures. This resolution provides that the Select Committee on
Standards and Conduct investigate any unauthorized disclosure of
intelligence information, report any significant breach of confidence
or unauthorized disclosure, and recommend such actions as censure,
removal from committee membership, or expulsion from the Senate
for Senators, and removal from office or employment or punishment
for contempt for officers or employees.
Because of the nature of the information they deal with, the foreign
affairs committees of both Houses should have a direct and substantial
role. in devising such legislation and establishing such procedures.
A fundamental issue which needs serious debate in Congress is the
question of a Member's responsibility with sensitive information.
Some Members prefer not to receive very sensitive information be-
cause. as public figures. they do not know how to use it should they
have questions about it. It is difficult to determine what a Member's
responsibility is for information provided about a decision or action
taken with which the Member disagrees, in which the Member had
no voice, or which the Member feels has important, and perhaps
dangerous, foreign policy ramifications.
12. To make better judgments on foreign policy issues con-
fronting the United States, Congress must make better use of
available information and acquire new sources of information.
Congress should utilize more fully both internal Government in-
formation andl outside sources of information. Its oversight and
scrutitmny of the more than 100 report in_' requirements contained in
legislation on foreign policy and foreign aid issues in some 50 laws
lieed to be intensified.
In the various investigative and research support facilities available
through the Congre-sional Rese rc.li Service. the General Accountin.
Office, the Conoressional Budget Office,. and the Office of Technology
A.\-s,,-si ent. Con!ires.- should have access to reliable information, iln-
eluding technical and scientific information and data on the manyliv
short-term and long-term problems it faces in the foreign policy areas.
However, Congress has less acce-ss to critical medium-termi assess-
ments and analyses that might affect legislation within a matter of
months or over the span of a congressional session. Congress can deal
with this problem by using outside "think-tanks." reevaluatin" the
I'l "Ationis an1d evimlpha.-,s of some of the already available sources, and
l.iiinitieinin g ;i sustained oversight of these legislative agencies.
111(e exeltive Lranch ca'i also play a role in providing Congress
with more timely ai, pertinient, information. Too often in dealing with
C,,;'resh.. Slate ),epartnentt officiNls present Congress with positions
that appear to be based on a 90-10 percent internal division when.
iir ri,,t. the decision was resolved ,,d a ')5-455 percent split.
Tile iilinterial Coiugrecs nel(ds to akle better jidgiiments on crucial
fiejign policy probleins should mielli l,. c'arefiillv selected key informa-
ti about talterI I ativ,: available. nollt sole]v al iernatives chosen. This
particu 1 r1 proil(elm is 'Is much :i problem of oxe(clitive, branchl attitude
as it is o,1( of "information-flow."
WVhile Congress mniust recognize its dependence on the executive
branch for the provision of information, it must be aggressive in
seeking new s,,urceTs of in formation from outside the Government and
ol lII.r 11:,111 tlie resenit con,-4',es io :il investi_.rative, agencies.
(N)t-ide "t liiInk-t links" s.oulll, be uised. (Non._ress (could( also seri-
ouIslv ,onisiderl. flite cretioni of :1 ,on,,ressional "foreign policy assess-
,,.1t ,llu',." which woiil, hlve ,ieu s ti a lbroid range of executive
i'r:i ,hb in ,forit,:it,)in. ildldil1r ilntelligeIn ,e analyses, policy options
:il ;ilfi iti (-,,. ;:,.(l fielil repo, tin,., and wu'i ld help svstenitize tlt.
, 'ti<. int','orn;il .;iii! ('rr,:itic excli ,_-,Lre plotes's es of present execltive-
I'Lrsl, Iiv,( re;iat ioIs.
Jhc, cI'':,i olt. i"i p'll-. of :ii ",s-t'c lent office", which would
"niitlit" lind ;1,ily/'1.11 zI li.\v o:t i i ait.,1 I'ci-iol- tlie way G AO audits
governmental financial activities, might serve not only to balance the
inevitable dependence of Congress on the executive branch for in-
formation, but also to enhance Congress' capacity to evaluate
medium-term foreign policy problems. Congress currently has better
capabilities for examining short- and long-term problems.
In the final analysis, the establishment of a steady flow of infor-
mation to members and their staffs is indispensable. The ability of
Congress to obtain complete and comprehensive information from
Government sources and elsewhere is critical to its efforts to play an
assertive and positive role in foreign affairs.
13. Although the President's Special Assistant for National
Security Affairs should not be compelled to testify before con-
gressional committees, he should be confirmed by the Senate. In
addition, greater efforts should be made to develop closer contacts
between the National Security Council (NSC) and Congress.
The powerful role of the Special Assistant to the President for
National Security Affairs, because of the capability of that particular
office-holder to play a dominant part in formulating national security
policy, must be subjected to some congressional review. The degree to
which the. Special Assistant and head of the NSC staff becomes more
a policymaker than a coordinating "manager" determines not only
his or her prominence within the foreign policy apparatus of the
United States, but also the nature of his or her relations with
Since the position has become more a policynimaking one in recent
years, Congress should enact legislation requiring Senate confirmation
of nominees for Special Assistant. However, the advisory and confi-
dential nature of the relationship between the Special Assistant and
the President should not be compromised by compelling him to
testify before congressional committees once he has been confirmed.
Since Congress strongly prefers to deal with the established depart-
nients of the executive branch, and because of the special advisory
character of the NSC staff, contacts between the two instl iitlon, ha-%
been severely and unfortunately limited. This situation must change,
and, without requiring that staff members of the NSC be confirmed by
the Senate or testify before committees, closer ties -and contacts should
be developed between Members of Congress and their staffs and the
NSC staff links with the congressional "ad hoc" groups mentioned
in recommendation No. 6 should also be encouraged, particularly
if the NSC's policy role evolves beyond one of manao-emnent and
H, It is in the national interest and in the interest of a coherent
foreign policy for Congress to be represented at international
conferences and for participating members to have a substantive
voice in decisions made by the American delegation. Members
should also participate in major international trips by senior
American officials, including the President.
The practice of having Members of Congress attend important inter-
national conferences and accompany major executive branch officials
on international trips should become a matter of course. s conference
participants, they should be involved in all substantive decisions of
the delegation. They should neither be considered ceremonial "window-
dressing" in U.S. delegations, nor should they publicly oppose the
diplomatic position of the United States and thereby risk under-
The practice of having members participate substantively in dele-
gation decisions should also apply to members of the House Interna-
tional Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Com-
mittee who annually participate in General Assembly sessions of the
In addition, it would be useful for Members of Congress to be in-
volved in major trips abroad by the President and his cabinet officers
(particularly the Secretaries of State, Defense, Treasury, and Com-
merce). Such travel with senior Government officials can help provide
Members of Congress with a perspective of our interests and of the
complexities of our relations with states around the world unobtain-
able any other way. At the same time, the executive branch would be
continuously aware of potential congressional attitudes towards and
criticisms of its policy initiatives.
15. The Department of State should reinstitute the publication
of the Secretary of State's "foreign policy report," which would
provide a basic and comprehensive statement of our foreign
Such documents (entitled, United States Foreign Policy: A Report
of the Secretary of State) were prepared and published for 1969-70,
1971, and 1972. They served the useful purpose of providing a compre-
hensive overview of our national interests and foreign policy objec-
tives. While these documents require much effort to produce, they do
provide Congress and the public with a substantive and relatively de-
tailed picture of our foreign policy and its goals. No other Government
document serves that function.
16. The President should institutionalize the practice of deliver-
ing a "state of the world" report or message to Congress, which
would outline broad foreign policy goals.
Annual "state of the world" reports, presented by the President to
a joint session of Congress shortly after the "State of the Union" ad-
dress, would not only delineate American foreign policy, but also serve
as a basis for a general debate, in Congress, on the tenets and objectives
of U.S. foreign policy. Such a debate is nee(led, as Congress too often
confines itself to dealing witli expiring legislation and to disapproving
specific l)policy iniditives will which it disagrees
"I'lhe debatee would give the President and the world an idea of the
divergent interests and concerns of those composing the Congress of
tlie United States, and would offer Members of Congress an early op-
lportbinlity to express Illeiselves on the broader aspects of U.S. foreign
policy. SI'uh a broad, more active, legislative review of general foreign
policy gooals could only serve to enhance Congress' overall perspective
;n ld role in foreign policy.
17. Without necessarily enlarging congressional staffs, except
perhaps in the area of international economics, Congress should
'improve its foreign affairs staffs' effectiveness and oversight
capabilities, and thereby the state of overall relations between
the executive and legislative branches.
If the present atmosphere of distrust between the executive and
legislative branches over foreign policy is to be changed, it is essential
that solid working-level relationships develop between the foreign
policy bureaucracies and congressional staffs. Several suggestions
should be pursued.
First, in order to ease the adversary nature of most relations between
the two branches, a host of new staff interchanges and contacts must
be encouraged to increase and develop ties on Capitol Hill. This would
involve free-wheeling exchanges of views in which set positions and
policies on both sides give way to discussion of alternatives and their
ramifications. The State Department's Open Forum Panel has sup-
ported such activities. Such exchanges would also broaden the perspec-
tive of congressional staffers and improve the nature of the working
relationship with the executive branch.
Second, junior congressional aides and younger Foreign Service offi-
cers should have greater opportunities to experience brief exchange
assignments. Programs that currently allow some 30 Foreign Service
officers to take 1- or 2-year assignments in Congress, in State capitals,
or with local governments, should be expanded. Selected congressional
aides with foreign policy expertise and interest should have an oppor-
tunity and be encouraged to work for periods of probably no more
than 6 months in the foreign policy agencies of the Government. These
assignments should allow the aides to work in agencies other than the
Department of State and within different sections of one agency. (For
example, at the State Department, 3 months would be spent in Con-
gressional Relations and 3 months in a regional or functional bureau.)
Third, congressional committee staffs responsible for foreign policy
should travel more, attend international conferences more often, and
increase their oversight work abroad. The latter might entail tempo-
rary duty overseas lasting a few months instead of a few weeks.
duringg its inquiry, the Special Subcommittee on lIvestigatiolls
found a broad consensus that Congress should play a central role in tihe
formulation of American foreign policy. Despite weaknesses Congress
has manifested, both in its approach to foreign policy issues and in its
organization to deal with them, democratic decisionmiaking mandates
a congressional role in the making of foreign policy.
Witnesses before the subcommittee agreed that Congress and the
executive branch need to take practical steps to operationalize the con-
cept that they are co-equals who need to work together in the foreign
policy formulation process and that such a process should not be viewed
as a contest between Congress and the executive branch in which there
are winners and losers.
A. NATURE OF T1HE: PROBLEM
1. THE 1ISTORTCAT, IWHATE
The role of Congress in the formulation of American foreign policy
has been a sn. ,jet of intense discussion and debate among statesnien,
scholars, constitutional experts and ('Conirress-watchers, almost from
the time the United States declared its independence 200 years ago.
Throughout our history, Congress" role in foreign policy lhas been
deteriiiined by the role of the Presidency and congressional reactions
to the exercise of that rolf. The debate oni the respective roles and 1pow-
ers of the Presidency Nand Congress l)beraan in the early daYs of- the Na-
tion. Commenting on the powers of thl executive in The Fe'dcra1;.t,
Alrexinder Hamilton wrote: '
The history of h11mflin conduitct does not warrant t that exalted1
opinion of human virtue which would maknle it wise in a na-
t itn to coiilj it interests of so delic':t( and ii,,,oinp toIIs a kiid.
a- those v.whlich concern its intte '-oiilrse with Ilie rest of tlIe
world., to the :-ole dispos:,l of a ,t ai.Lrti'le c'(eatd and1 cir-
cuinstanced cas would le a President of the United Slates.
Peyrlo^' of Coli,.Liolnal asS.erti'(,cnss iln ftorio )olicy Ii:\1 leen
frquKnt in t1le Natin's history. The Vi(,tnnm experience lhas inerely
I .ii tl!,, latest and ,llp-, ino1 1() p l(ent (,taIY'-t for <'on.i ressioi1al ac-
tiv; Li in foreign :iff;iirs.
Congrellf sioal oh.io : 1 in tlhe, foriL'n ;,fliirsn field II;IV' depel'lded on
tli, .oi'osit in of te lil yeslative chambnlers wid tlhe predispositions of
tle le',islators, the ,.haracter, style, and( philosophy of the President
iid the politi'.l cirm istnnc'es in wlich foreign policy issues emerge.
LT.t( in the 1.th (..,tt,,ry, conygrr(ss ontl doinimat, ion of fltheip. American
govermneintal process was (n1rtnvlcld in iiiiny p)oli (' v Ireas. Aspects
of il hat rel,',ti(,,llip 1pv'Pistd 1,til cl.(se to WIild War IT.
In recent years, the increasing centralization of power in the Presi-
dency has been caused, in part. by bad memories of a frustrated League
of Nations experiment, recognition of the need for a powerful wartime
and postwar Presidency, the nuclear age and the development of mass
communications, and the emergence of the United States as the most
powerful global military and economic power.
While the decision of the United States not to participate in the
League of Nations followed a bitter confrontation between the Con-
gress and the President, the participation of the United States in the
United Nations system was the result of a concerted effort to seek a
consensus on foreign policy in the postwar era, based on cooperation
between Congress and President.
The breakdown of the domestic foreign policy consensus during
the Vietnam experience rekindled the debate over the relative roles
of Congress and the President in the conduct of foreign policy. This
debate resulted from frustrations among many Members of Congress.
because they had not participated in policy decisions relating to mili-
tary involvement and later disengagement.
Although the first important act in the congressional-executive in-
terchange over the Vietnam war, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, was
one in the tradition of the foreign policy consensus of the cold war,
that episode was later to symbolize the larger debate over the nature
and extent of America's global security interests and over the role of
Congress in foreign affairs.
That debate continues today in an activist Congress. Few observers
see any change in Congress' attitude as the new administration enters
office in 1977.
2. CONGRESS AS ADVERSARY AND PARTNER
The recent activism of Congress in foreign affairs has been both a
cause and an effect of the cracks in the foreign policy consensus
which occurred in the immediate, postwar period. Constitutional
dictates and political considerations have put CongroTess in the
paradoxical position of both being a partner and an adversary in
The adversary nature of the executive-legislative relationship
was envisioned for the system of government created by the Found-
ing Fathers. Although the course of the Vietnam war and the un-
expected developments related to the Watergate incident have fueled
this adversary relationship, the renewed debate over the congres-
sional role should be seen as a sign that Presidential dominance is
neither required nor constitutionally mandated and that congressional
assertiveness is vital to the preservation of the constitutional system
and a necessary element for a democratically conceived foreign policy.
Furthermore, the conflictive relationship between the two brancih.s
need not have a winner and a loser. The niechiani-ins of debat. aind
review of policy bring about decisions and actions which stand a bet-
ter chance of serving the interests and values of the American people.
As two observers of t-he congressional scene wrote recelntilv:
Both sides can win or lose in proportion to the degree they
recognize that they are not two sides but integral elements of
the same government, elected to pursue the common interests
of the American people.1
In other words, each branch must esten to the other's views and
opinions and view itself not as an advocate in a debate but rather as
a contributor to a discussion, for the common good of all.
On the other hand, total cooperation between the two branches
should not be considered the s8ine qua non of foreign policymaking.
Whatever the shortcomings of the adversary relationship and the
benefits of an improved and formalized consultative process, Congress,
constitutionally and historically, should continue to pursue its crucial
role as a critic of executive branch policy.
The concern of Congress should be to strike a balance between re-
sponsible criticism, based on appropriate and measured oversight and
review of executive branch policy, and necessary cooperation with the
executive branch, stimulated by strengthened a priori consultation
In retrospect, Edward S. Corwin's maxim that the U.S. Constitution
"is an invitation to struggle for the privilege of directing American
foreign policy," best characterizes the state of executive-legislative
relations throughout most of American history, except perhaps for
that remarkable era of consensus immediately following World
Yet, the nature of the problem may not be that each branch must
engage in a constant conflict to seek control over the formulation of
our foreign policy but rather to ensure. that the wisest policies, with
broad support, are implemented. Wise polbicWs should be the objective,
not control by one branch or the other, for we have recently seen that
the dominance of one branch over another can not only result in bad
policy but also undermine the democratic process.
As former Secretary of State Dean Acheson wrote over 20 years
The central question is not whether the Congress should be
stronger than the Presidency, or vice versa; but how the Con-
gress and the Presidency can both be strengthened to do the
pressing work that falls to each to do, and to both to do
B. STRE-NGTIIS AN.D W"EAKNESSEFS OF TITE LEGISLATIVE. BRANCH OF
Congress' strengths and weaknesses are both structural and atti-
tidinnl. Its main strength is representativeness; its main weakness is
diffusion of power and authority.
i. *rAT'ri'T-'.AT, I)EFICIENCIE.S
Wliile re'ogizin- thflat stru ctral deficiencies in Congress have
,.(,:,l:.,, its contribution to foreign affairs, a major set of problems
1 Alton Frvp and aenk Siilllvnn. "Congrpus andl Vietnam: The Fruits of Anguish." 7'Te
Virttim Lffifi yi:: The War, A im(rtirfn RSorietiy and The l'Putrae of .4 ncri(catn Foreign Policy,
pil. A, ttinIv Jiln I Nfw York : New York Uninvertif y v 'reP.s9. 1976), |. 21'5.
2 D,..in Achuon, A Citizrn Looli.s tt (Congreia (Now York : Ilarper & Brothers, 1056),
emanates from the attitudes Congressmen have developed. Deference
to the executive branch, general disinterest in foreign policy issues,
lack of sustained interest in any particular issue, parochial consider-
ations due to constituent and interest group pressures, and fear of
"meddling" with the national security apparatus or of taking responsi-
bility for actions in the area, are all attitudinal problems that no
amount of structural reform can remedy.
Former Senator Fulbright perhaps summed it up well when he
commented to the Murphy Commission that:
* it has not been a lack of available power which has
undermined congressional authority in foreign affairs but
a lack of willingness to assert authority, make decisions, and
accept responsibility for their consequences. Further, I am
convinced that, whatever useful reforms are made in the
organization and procedures of Congress, all the stream-
lining in the world will be no substitute for the character
and backbone of the Members.3
Given the strengths and weaknesses of Congress and the execu-
tive branch, crucial attitudinal changes and procedural improvements
for obtaining information and prior consultation are necessary pre-
requisites for any structural alterations to have an impact.
2. THE ASSERTIVENESS OF CONGRESS
The activism and assertiveness of Congress in foreign policy matters
have resulted from many factors and should be viewed positively.
Congress has been able to act forcefully with the legislative means
at its disposal, especially the authorization and appropriation proc-
esses and the legislative veto. Although often viewed by the executive
branch as methods of obstructing the policy execution process, these
mechanisms can nevertheless be strengths which are often effectively
used to inject a congressional input into foreign affairs formulation.
Congress' representativeness remains its major source of strength.
Congressmen, by being in continuous contact with the people and
represent ing their disparate interests and concerns, have served not
only to insure democratic control over the foreign policymaking proc-
ess, but have also been the conveyors of sometimes ambivalent and
occasionally vociferous public opinion.
Recent events have demonstrated that without a genuine public
consensus of support, the executive branch cannot legitimately ai:d
effectively pursue any foreign policy. Congressional support is neces-
sary for long-term policy, while congressional opposition to a policy
can impede and undermine that policy.
Because Congress and the executive branch share constitutional
responsibilities in the foreign policy field, Congress can serve several
important purposes: it can help formulate policies; it cn act to check
the growing power of the Presidency; it can support the President,
when necessary and desirable, in his foreig-n policy initiatives; it can
monitor tihe attitudes of the American people; and it can assist in
informing and educating the people on foreign policy matters.
3 "Congress nnd Executive-Le.zislhtive Relatfons : Appendix L," Commis8sion on fth Oran-
n"i.atinn of the forrrnnient for fthei Oondut of Forciqn Policy (June 1975), Volume 5
(Wqsiington, D.C. : U.S. Government Printing Office), p. 59.
3. STRUCTURAL WEAKNESSES
Remedies for structural weaknesses in Congress are often easy to
propose since they often involve simply abolishing, consolidating, or
replacing existing structures. There was an almost unanimous feeling
during the hearings that structural changes are essential for Congress
to a-sert its el f more effectively in the foreign policy process.
First. the diffusion of power and the multiple interests and responsi-
bilities of most Members of Congress create serious structural prob-
lems with which all foreign policy agencies have had difficulties
copin.'. Mo-t witnesses agreed that one serious obstacle to effective
prior consultation was the diffusion of leadership on foreign policy
q(ie-tirns in Congress.
The executive branch no longer found that it could, as it once had,
confer with a few key Congressmen and fulfill its obligation to con-
sult. No loneirr can a small group of powerful men "deliver" the U.S.
Congrez.. Middle-level and junior-ranking Members of Congress do
not considerr adminnistration discussions with committee chairmen to
constitute adequate prior consultation but insist on their own admis-
sion to these private sessions early in the policy formulation process.
Second. jurisdictional diffusion, reflected in the. lack of any central-
ized coordinating and reviewing procedure, particularly in the area
of foreign economic policy, is a crucial reason for Congress' lack of
Presently, 17 of 22 committees of the House of Representatives deal
with aspects of foreign policy. They are:
Airriculture Interstate and Foreign Commerce
A rined Services Merchant Marine and Fisheries
Banking, Currency and Housing Public Works and Transportation
'miidget Science and Technology
Edciiation and Labor Small Business
Go'erninent Operations Veterans'Affairs
TntPrior and Insular Affairs Ways and Means
In the Senate, 16 of 19 committees have some jurisdiction over
foreign policy. They are:
Ae('oia ut ical and Space Sciences Foreign Relations
A rir,'1ulituire and Forestry Government Operations
A appropriations Intelligence
A.,rrn', Services Interior and Insular Affairs
l1mkir,, Housming and Urban Judiciary
Affairs Labor and Public Welfare
llBd.rt Public Works
(',nmip rce Veterans' Affairs
Fi na cee
COIur:s.-.,' ability to continue to have a sustained impact on foreign
l, will \ 'I epend, in part, on fuutlre stricti ral changes. Overlapping
,'0uin,1iti',, iiri-,lition- ,1ii v1nie. mIandates inhibit Congress' efforts
to !,il(lv'-s iI:i;jiv i1ip)'rt:iit forviErn policy issues, two of the most
no,1 ;i.i lN.1,(j forei i Proiloilic policy ajid( nuclear proliferation
4. A "JOINT COMMITTEE"
To remedy some of Congress' structural weaknesses, the establish-
ment of a "Joint Committee on National Security" has often been
suggested. Many witnesses before the subcommittee recommended the
creation of such a committee, which could be comparable to the one
recommended by the Murphy Commission on the Organization of the
Government for the Conduct of Foreign Policy, as the best method
for improving Congress' coordination of foreign policy matters.
The Special Subcommittee on Investigations felt, however, that such
a committee would not, in and of itself, be effective in correcting Con-
gress' weaknesses, improving attitudes in Congress and the executive
branch, and ameliorating the current state of executive-legi. at ive
A joint committee, composed of the leadership of Congress and tlie
senior members of the several committees concerned generally with
foreign policy would be both unwieldly in size and too demanding
on those who would compose its membership. It would also be incapable
of solving some of the major impediments to effective cong ressional
participation in foreign policy, such as the lack of meaningful, prior
consultation, attitudinal constraints, and disparate and overlapping
Rather, for the foreseeable future, the present foreign affairs com-
mittees should serve as coordinating mechanisms and focal points for
consultation and information. Recognition that the committees need to
find ways to deal with issues that cut across jurisdictional lines of
other committees, and that there is a need for better consultative pro-
cedures, does not require the creation of a new committee.
Whether the solution is a new Joint Committee on National Security,
a strengthening of the present committees dealing with foreign affairs,
or other jurisdictional changes, the consensus was that the present set
of procedures and relationships was not adequate, given Congress'
role and capabilities in playing a constructive part in foreign policy-
Streamlining jurisdictions, strengthening- the coordinating and over-
sight roles of the foreign affairs committees of both Houises, greater
prior consultation of Congress by the executive branch, and attitudinal
changes in both the executive and legislative branches will improve
and -strengthen Congress' ability to play a role in foreign policy.
C. STRENGTHS ANDI) WEAKNESSES OF THE EXECUTIVE BRA.NCh
The strength of the executive branch in the foreign. policy p1)rocesc
lies in th.)e nature and mandate of the office of the Presidencv. As coli-
mander in chief of the arined forces and the principal ,o- erimienltal
officer responsible for the execution of policy, the Presideit. is at the
center of America's relations with foreign states. As the ex.rout of
foreign policy, the American people look to him for leadership aind
consider him their representative before the world.
The executive brainchl's unparalleled ace-',s to inforr i:tiori ;mli ex-
pertise has beii a major source of it .- t; reigth vis-a-vi-n C,-ngi-,. In
fact. the executive branch's vast information resources will have to be
shared with Congress more often and in greater detail if Congress is
to begin to share effectively in the making of foreign policy with the
The very organization of the executive branch of Government drives
it another advantage in carrying out American foreign policy. With
power centralized in one man. decisionmaking can be rapid and execu-
tion of policy immediate.
No one challengees the premise that the executive branch has the
primary responsibility for implementing foreign policy. Economic
aid. security assistance, diplomacy, and other instruments of our rela-
tions with foreign nations, are carried out by executive agencies at
home and through various field offices abroad. In spite of Congress'
powers to legislate and oversee, the executive branch is granted wide
discretion in implementing American foreign policy.
A feeling that pervasive power in foreign policy belongs to the exec-
utive branch, whether justified or not, has colored the nature of the
executive branch's relations with and attitudes towards Congress.
The belief that the executive branch is best suited and equipped to
conduct foreign relations has led many, whether in the National Secu-
rity Council or the Department of State, to look upon Congress as a
nuisance in the policy process or as though Capitol Hill were some-
thing close to what one witness called "enemy territory." Congres-
sional attempts to limit executive action, such as putting constraints
on or curtailing economic and security assistance, are often considered
too blunt and restrictive for the State Department to mesh with global
U.S. diplomatic objectives. Some in the executive branch believe that
unless Congress specifically prohibits something through the legisla-
tive process, they are in a strong legal position to carry out any policy.
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once commented on Congress'
role as follows:
The Congress can set broad guidelines and decide basic pol-
icies. But. the Congress does not have the organization, the
information or the responsibility for deciding the tactical
questions that arise daily in the conduct of our foreign rela-
tions, or for executing a coherent, consistent, comprehensive
Such attitudes mnilinimize tlhe congressional role and weaken the
executtive brancli's ability to deal with Congress as a "partner" which
shares constitutional powers for foreign policy with the executive
branch. The expectation of deference to the executive branch, vindi-
cated so frequent ly 1y past congressional t imidity, l-has slowly eroded
as congressional activism lhas inITreased.
h'lese attitudes,. plus the perception thliat diffusion of power and
jurisdiction multiplicity are flagrant congressional weaknesses, have
jeopardized tlhe initiation of genuine and satisfactory prior con-
stltation procedures. Distrustful of congressional assertiveness, wary
of its power to oversee and investigate, the executive branch has fre-
qciiently felt torn between its awareness of the congressional role
in foreig-n affairs dictated by the Constitution and its own clear
lref r1n,'Je to igrorle Congress.
While diffusion of power and lack of coordination were considered
by the executive branch to be sources of legislative branch weaknesses
and reasons for the unsatisfactory nature of executive-legislative rela-
tions, comparable criticisms could be addressed to the organization of
the executive branch, particularly in areas like foreign economic policy
and nuclear proliferation. The problems of interdependence require
increasing attention, and there will be a need to reorganize the execu-
tive branch to deal more effectively with them. The functions of the
Council on International Economic Policy (CIEP), for example,
which seems to have failed to assume a proper and forceful role in
coordinating U.S. foreign economic policy, need to be reevaluated.
As foreign economic policy shares prominence with politico-military
affairs, not only will there be a need for executive agencies to consult
and coordinate more effectively with each other, but the State Depart-
ment, as the principal focal point in the diplomatic process, will have
to affirm its leadership in many areas of foreign relations, including
economic policy, while taking into account the legitimate and some-
times contradictory interests of other executive departments.
The executive branch's inherent strength lies in its ability to con-
duct the day-to-day business of foreign policy. To the extent that the
exercise of that ability does not preclude a meaningful role for Con-
gress in the formulation of foreign policy, the executive, branch should
expect and receive support from the legislative branch. In fact, often,
it is only when the executive branch ignores Congress that difficulties
in executive-legislative relations arise and Congress becomes obstinate
(the Vietnam war and the arms embargo to Turkey being cases-in-
Policy coordination within the executive branch, coupled with a
timely consultation process with Congress. that insure proper con-
sideration of all views and interests in the formulation of policy, are
vital prerequisites for the conduct of an effective foreign policy. Both
of these, however, will require improved mechanisms and procedures
for contact and understanding between the two branches and espe-
cially attitudinal changes that would mitigate thle present atmosphere
of (list rust.
D. EXECUTIVE-LEGISLATIVE INTERACTION
The problem facing those concerned with the formulation of
American policy is the general improvement of executive-legislative
Congress and the executive branch will interact as both adversaries
and partners. As Congress attempts to share in the making of foreign
policy, it should not forsake the adversary aspect of its relations with
the executive branch. It should avoid co-optation and retain its role as
Better mechanisms and procedures for enhancing and increasing
executive-legislative interaction can permit Congress' more effective
and informed participation both as a partner and an adversary.
In order to provide the optimal opportunity for Congress and the
executive branch to develop an effective mix of their partnership and
adversary roles, there must be close and ongoing consultation between
these two branches of Government, sustained congressional hearings
afind inquiries, open and closed, on legislative and nonlegislative.
matters. and more frequent informal contacts at all levels.
The issue of the consultation of Congress in foreign policy matters
is one that preoccupied the subcommittee during the hearings.
Frequently, executive brancli consultation with Congress has been
too little and too late. Consultation lhas meant a post facto or simul-
taneous notification of action taken, rather than a genuine prior pres-
entation of options involving their full discussion and consideration.
AMembers of Congress expres-sed their dissatisfaction with this lack
of consultation on continuing "non-crisis" foreign policy issues, which
reduced their input into foreign policyimaking. It was also noted that
certain congressional foreign policy initiatives which had unfortunate
reIT.lts would probably not have occurred, had there been earlier and
fII ler lconsultation with the executive branch.
Consultation should mean more than "touching base" with key con-
r.-es.Sional leaders. Tlhe procedures by which consultation is carried
out must give Congress a legitimate opportunity to participate in the
Making of policy. In the best of circumstances, consultation should en-
tail asking or seeking the advice of Congress before a final decision is
miuade or an action carried out. At the very least, the executive branch
should provide Congress with the range of policy alternatives con-
sidered feasible. Adequate consultation of Congress entails prior con-
stilt ;itioli on. and contilnued congressional participation in, foreign
a ff'ni is.
C("ongres-.s might need to consider legislating formalized mandatory
,ol,, lltative l)rocedures, for which a precedent is provided in section
3 of the War Powers Resolution. an act designed to insure congres-
sional consultation and authority whenever U.S. troops are committed
into lhostilities abroadl. The legislation of such a requirement in such
areas as security assistance, trade policy, and economic aid, could sus-
tain congressional participation in crucial foreign policy areas.
Thei' s.'hbcommiittee also noted a need for Congress to develop better
procedulres for insuring its input into ,risis-management. Timely and
profit part ij.iat ion by Congress in crisis situations is essential to en-
:-IIre if znder.tt(iMd,,, and -upport of Presidential action. The asser-
tion tlihat time an(i information constraints preclude any systematic
ongressional role beyond po.,t fa,.to notification appears unjustified
if f there is ani exe'itiv brail' h Vvi1liu indesP to ,ee. ('olgress have a role
ii foreign policy. To iIi1prove cri.1is-,ii naIe11i, t consultation, th le sIb-
commulittee fould ll(it tilt creation of "a(Id ioc" groups. fori med by ( Con-
,.r.-es to d(leal witl specific crises, would, be a more effective and flexible
ton] th1 h mIiore lormnai options such as a joint, committeete.
IIIproved i r,,I;flt:miie pro(Iedurrs d1ri,1ing crisis situations, to be pro-
vide(dI )v ":il hfoc" groups. w'ouild help i, e1liiiiiiitate tihe frequently criti-
,.zc.( tendency of (onLT)res to lie overly rt,:i.ive and disruptive in
f'i ,, ii athit'is. md, \orild dolwnplday tile re ent (eiml)haisis on the nd-
v','ivy nat .re of exe lit ive-legislit ive relations. Th'lme initiation of ef-
f,',ti'e consult ativye pro,'cdidures b)y tei executive branch, along with
Congress' full use of available information sources both inside and
outside the Government, are essential to improving the foreign policy
Congressional hearings have been the most formal and public way
that Congress and its committees keep the executive branch account-
able for its actions, and keep themselves informed on what the specifics
of our foreign policy are. In hearings, the executive branch is called
upon to justify its policies to Congress and the people it represents.
Since hearings are the most ready means available to Members of
Congress for interaction with the executive branch, they are the most
frequently used vehicle for keeping Congress informed about official
U.S. Government policy.
Congressional hearings are a major and more visible component of
executive-legislative interaction. There is a continued need for Con-
gress to have the executive branch "go on record" as to what our
foreign policy entails, and hearings are still the best way to create a
Effective congressional oversight and participation in foreign affairs
demand the holding of hearings on a wide range of legislative as well
as nonlegislative matters with both Government witnesses and outside
The hearing process, however, often tends to proi-ote the adversary
aspect of executive-legislative, relations. Members of Congress use the
hearing forum to "cross-examine" executive branch witnesses. The ex-
tent to which executive branch witnesses are forthcoming in their pres-
entations and answers to questions will help determine the nature of
As a forum both for acquiring information and dispensing criti-
cism, hearings perform the invaluable functions of keeping Congress
attuned to the state of our foreign relations and the executive branch
aware of congressional moods and intentions.
3. INFORMAL CONTACTS
Informal contacts between Members of Congre.- and their trafts in
congressional offices and committees and officials at all levels in the
regional and functional bureaus of the Department of State and other
foreign affairs agencies provide useful channels of communication
between the two branches. They should be welcomed and encouraged.
Informal contacts between Members of Congress and their staffs in
a measure of harmony between the two branches in thrashing out the
complexities of foreign affairs. Informal briefings, by executive branch
officials, free from the strictures of congressional hearings, are inval-
iable not only because of the exchange of information they promote.
but also because, they develop a sense of partnership and mutual re-
sponsibility between the two branches in an atmosphere of reduced
It is helpful to the pursuance of an effective foreign policy that
Assistant and Deputy Assistant Secretaries of State meet frequently
with Members of Congress and that working-level Foreign Service ofti-
(cers be in contact with personal and committee staffs on the Hill. Such
contacts are particularly important when major legislation affecting
our foreign policy is being considered in committee, and when the
executive branch is about to engage on new policy and diplomatic
The desire of both executive branch officials at all levels and Mem-
bers of Congress and their stallffs to meet and discuss foreign policy
problems, informally and privately, permits each branch to realize
and appreciate the concerns and limitations of the other.
However, these informal contacts should be considered supple-
mentary to, and not a substitute for, more rigorous prior consultation
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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