Bennet Jr., Douglas J.
September 1978
Foreign Affairs;Fall1978, Vol. 57 Issue 1, p40
This article examines the desirability and workability of congressional participation in U.S. foreign policy. The congressional budget process, established in 1974, has given U.S. Congress both the analytical tools and the self-discipline to make decisions quite independently of the executive in economic and fiscal policy matters. The budget process itself has already begun to have an important impact on foreign policy to the extent that it affects the success of U.S. economic policy, the size of the defense budget and U.S. foreign assistance. The committees on intelligence established in 1976 give each house a watchdog assigned to the area of foreign activity heretofore most jealously protected as an executive prerogative. They also give Congress regular access to highly sensitive intelligence information. Congress has increased the size of members' staffs, devoting more manpower to foreign policy and military matters. Because members can be more confident of the advice and information they receive, they often pursue their own foreign policy concerns rather than acquiesce in congressional or executive branch leadership. As the process of policymaking in general becomes more public, members of Congress are forced to address issues which, if treated in traditional diplomatic secrecy, might have been ignored.


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