<Standard IV.A .............................................................................................................................................Standard IV.C>

The major institutions of power have a system of checks and balances to ensure the power stays balanced.
For more on Checks and Balances in US Government, see Standard I.C.


Congress checks on the Presidency:
Obama Addresses Congress, February 24, 2008
Obama Addresses Congress, February 24, 2008

  • House can impeach President
  • Senate tries impeached Presidents
  • If there is no electoral majority, the House chooses the President and the Senate chooses the Vice President
  • Congress can override a Presidential veto with a 2/3 vote
  • Congress declares war
  • Congress has to approve Vice President replacements
  • Congress approves treaties, ambassadors, and departmental appointments
  • President is required to make "State of the Union" addresses to Congress

Congress checks on the Federal Court:
  • Senate approves justices
  • House can impeach justices
  • Senate tries impeached justices
  • Congress can create amendments
  • Congress can make lower courts
  • Congress sets jurisdiction for courts
  • Congress can alter the size of the Supreme Court

Congress checks on the Bureaucracy:
  • Various agencies have control over the same job
    • Customs services, FBI, DEA, Border Control, and the Defense Department all work to stop drug trafficking
  • Congress must approve all expenses from agencies
    Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne, and President George W.Bush
    • Appropriation Committees in the House and Senate divide funds for agencies
  • Congressional committees can hold hearings to question the actions of agencies
  • Congress can rewrite legislation that defines what each agency does


Federal Court checks on the Presidency:
  • Judicial review
  • During impeachment trials, the Chief Justice is the President of the Senate
Federal Court checks on Congress:
  • Judicial review
  • Compensation is not allowed to decrease
  • Judicial seats are held on good behavior
Federal Court checks on the Bureaucracy:
  • Judicial review


Presidency checks on Congress:
  • Veto power
  • Vice President is President of the Senate
  • President is Commander in Chief of the military
    The Drug Enforcement Administration is considered a Bureaucracy
    The Drug Enforcement Administration is considered a Bureaucracy
  • President can make appointments of senior federal officials while Senate is in recess
  • President can call the House and Senate into emergency sessions
  • President can call for adjournment when the houses do not agree
  • Compensation can not decrease
Presidency checks on the Federal Courts:
  • The President federal justices
  • President has pardon power
Presidency checks on the Bureaucracy:
  • President can appoint secretaries
  • President can create policies to change agencies
  • Helps control the budget
  • Use the press to criticize actions


The Bureaucracy is considered a part of the Executive Branch. It does not have any outright checks on the Congress, Federal Courts, or Presidency. Most bureaucratic agencies or commissions regulate specific topics, or enforce policies.

1. Wikianswers. How does Congress check the Bureaucracy.
2. Pearson. The Federal Bureaucracy.