Working Paper on Reclaiming Constitutional Authority Through the “Power of the Purse”

Choosing priorities and allocating financial resources is the most straight-forward way for a legislature to shape governing policies. Moreover, a government’s budgeting system is central to determining the kind of governing system a country has. Hence, a vigorous practice of budgeting is fundamental to Congress’s policymaking authority under Article I of the Constitution.

The United States’ Federal Government is not a parliamentary system. To the extent Congress cedes control of the budget, the Executive Branch – which is independent of Congress – gains power, undermining the Constitution’s carefully drawn balance of powers. The Founders established this constitutional system precisely to prevent such concentrations of power, which would ultimately threaten individual freedoms. Therefore, the budget process must strive to reinforce Congress’s constitutional authority and the U.S. Government’s arrangement of three separate but coequal branches.

Read the full paper here.