Introduction xv those subcommittees are responsible for compiling the spending plan for their respective chambers each year. In addition to funding the House and Senate, these Legislative Branch appropriations also include annual fiscal support for all of the Legislative Branch partners. While the House and Senate essentially ask themselves for their yearly allowance, members must also play to public perception when putting together their budgets. For example, they are entitled to annual cost-of-living adjustments and pay raises however, they have consistently waived any and all salary increases throughout the last decade. It’s just with the 2019–2020 request that pay raises were actually included (unsuccessfully) in the Legisla- tive Branch budget request. Budget requests of Executive Branch agencies are scrutinized in detail and revised by the Congress. However, Congress establishes its own budget, sets its own staff levels, pay scales, allowances, etc. In large part this is done by adoption of simple resolutions or committee edict [that are] not subject to review or approval by the Executive [Branch]. Moreover, the methods by which these perquisites of office are provided often permit Members of Congress greater flexibility and discretion in the use of appro- priated funds than is granted to other Federal agencies.11 In addition to controlling how much it gets, it controls when it gets paid. So, it should come as no surprise that Congress gets its money first. Since 1995, Congress has passed the Legislative Branch Appropriation before the start of each new fiscal year, unlike the 11 other federal spending bills (e.g., Defense, Agriculture, or Energy appropriations) which have not passed before the start of the coming fiscal year in decades. This means that even through government shutdowns, Congress and its support partners are fully funded.12 We now know that Congress determines how much money it needs to do its job every year, but what, exactly, is that job? We know they pass laws (when they can actually agree on them), but their roles and responsibilities encompass much more. Scholars and experts have studied and written about the Constitutional aspects of Congress’s responsibilities for generations. Our founding fathers designed a three-part system of government, comprising the Executive, Leg- islative, and Judicial Branches, to provide checks and balances that would ensure that no one branch would be able to overpower the others. Yet, they also recognized the supremacy of the Congress in fact, the Constitution starts right off with the Legislative Branch. Article I decrees that “Congress has the primary power to make the country’s laws.”13 It then provides the framework for the two chambers that make up our Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate.
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