U.S. and South Korean Policy Differences Require Deft Alliance Management

The U.S.–South Korean alliance has played an indispensable role in maintaining peace and stability in northeast Asia. Seoul has also been a stalwart ally in providing troops for security and peacekeeping operations far from its shores. Maintaining the alliance as part of the broader bilateral relationship is critically important for achieving U.S. strategic objectives in Asia. There will be differences in views on the policies and priorities of military and diplomatic policies. At times, these have seemed insurmountable and relations were severely tested. But the alliance always prevailed and will do so again. Both countries’ well-being and security depend on it.

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

The Biden Administration Must Provide Clarity on Its Approach to Afghanistan

The Biden Administration, like the two Administrations before it, has inherited a complex situation in Afghanistan that defies easy solutions. While the Administration will naturally be preoccupied with domestic concerns, not least recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Afghanistan will demand its attention as negotiations enter a critical phase. The U.S. military, America’s NATO allies, the Afghan government, and the Afghan people are now looking to the Biden Administration for clarity on how it intends to approach and resolve America’s longest war.

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

Slavery and the Constitution

Frederick Douglass, the foremost black abolitionist in the 1840s, once asked, “If the Constitution were intended to be by its framers and adopters a slave-holding instrument, then why would neither “slavery,” “slave-holding,” nor “slave” be anywhere found in it?” Yet that is not the focus of those who challenge the integrity of the Constitution. Some who challenge it say the Constitution is weakened by the existence of slavery in the United States at the time the Constitution was adopted. Slaveholders took part in the framing of the Constitution, and the naysayers say slaveholders, in their hearts, intended to secure certain advantages in that instrument for slavery. As Ameri..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 is the most radical piece of immigration legislation ever introduced in America and seeks to reward illegal aliens at the expense of American citizens. It is a bold attempt to trade American national security, sovereignty, and well-being for perceived political benefit. America deserves immigration laws that prioritize Americans, lawful immigrants, U.S. sovereignty, and national and economic security, not illegal aliens, smugglers, cartels, gangs, and breaking the law. The USCA would erase the distinction between legal and illegal immigration, includes no border security, would increase both illegal and legal immigration, would skyrocket costs for the America..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

The Facts About H.R. 1: The “For the People Act of 2021”

H.R. 1 would federalize and micromanage the election process administered by the states, imposing unnecessary, unwise, and unconstitutional mandates on the states and reversing the decentralization of the American election process—which is essential to the protection of our liberty and freedom. It would (among other things) implement nationwide the worst changes in election rules that occurred during the 2020 election; go even further in eroding and eliminating basic security protocols that states have in place; and interfere with the ability of states and their citizens to determine the qualifications and eligibility of voters, ensure the accuracy of voter registration rolls, secure the f..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

President Biden Should Lead a Firm G7 Stance Against Communist China

On February 19, 2021, President Biden will join the other G7 leaders for a virtual meeting. As the President seeks to establish himself as the leader of the free world, no task is more important than rebuilding the world’s economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital that President Biden encourage other G7 leaders to continue and deepen the coordination of pro-growth policies, including those proven successful under his predecessor. The President should also insist that the G7 lay down clear markers to signal to communist China that the U.S. and its closest (and most economically powerful) allies remain resolved to stand firm against China’s aggressive mercantilism and its..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

Congress Should Reject Efforts to Restore “Welfare as We Knew It” by Expandin...

The principle of work requirements in welfare is based on common sense. It has nearly universal public support. The public supports aid to those who need it, but they do not want welfare to be a one-way handout. The key is reciprocity. If aid is given to able-bodied individuals, they should be required to take positive steps toward self-support in exchange for the assistance given. Polls show that close to 90 percent of Americans agree that “able-bodied adults that receive cash, food, housing, and medical assistance should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving those government benefits.” The current welfare system is very far from perfect, but it would not b..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

Congress Should Stop Abrogating Its Spending Power and Rein in USDA Slush Fund

Over the past few years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set a terrible precedent by greatly expanding its use of the Agriculture Secretary’s discretionary spending authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act. This new and expansive use of the CCC creates a USDA slush fund that allows the Agriculture Secretary to spend money on almost anything. The USDA’s use of the CCC in recent years for trade aid to farmers was based on questionable authority, and now the Biden Administration may push for programs that are even less likely to be authorized under the law, such as climate change programs. Congress needs to stop abrogating its spending power and resto..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

The Impeachment Process: The Constitution and Historical Practice

Impeachment refers to the process of removing public officials from office for serious misconduct. With roots in 14th-century England, the U.S. Constitution provides: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office upon Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The U.S. is currently experiencing an “impeachment frenzy,” with political activists, commentators, and Members of Congress debating whether, when, and why to pursue impeachment. The discussion and debate about impeachment are plagued with confusion over this rarely exercised procedure. This serious and important part of..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

The Contested Removal Power

The current expansion of the administrative state demands a thorough reconsideration of the executive removal power, which has never been definitively settled. Despite popular expectations of the executive branch’s power and reach, U.S. Presidents find their capacity to govern frustrated by the limitations imposed by independent regulatory agencies (IRCs) over whom they have very limited removal power. A creation of the Progressive era, IRCs were originally conceived as a means of introducing non-political expertise into the administration of law. Soon, however, these agencies became a favorite tool by which Congress could siphon executive power from the President without correspondingly i..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

Who Should Do the Federal Government’s Work?

Since 1978, when the Civil Service Reform Act created the architecture of the modern bureaucracy, much has changed. The tedious process of hiring and disciplining federal employees has led to mass outsourcing of federal work to contractors, nonprofits, and university faculties, which is not always fiscally or ethically justifiable. Many federal programs are largely administered by state and local officials, which, in many cases, contravenes the principles of constitutional federalism. Last, a new cadre of career civil servants has the skillset and autonomy to determine—rather than administer—public policy. It is time for Congress and the President to update our civil service system to ad..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

The Descent of Advice and Consent: Perspectives from a 42-Year Tour of Duty

During his 42-year career in the Senate, Senator Orrin Hatch (R–UT) participated in the confirmation of more than half of all Article III judges who have ever served. During this time, a lot has changed about the confirmation process. Both sides used to work together, or, at the very least, used to try to treat each other’s nominees fairly. The delay tactics that have become so commonplace used to be pretty rare. The nomination of Robert Bork in 1987 brought a sea change to the confirmation process, with character assassination, shameless misrepresentations of the nominee’s record, and partisan warfare. The only hope is that perhaps someone someday will take a step back and say, “Eno..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

Reforming the Federal Bureaucracy: Challenge and Opportunity

The federal bureaucracy is not meeting its own performance-based civil service ideals, and the problem is greater than bureaucratic administration. The federal bureaucracy’s inefficiency, expense, and irresponsiveness to political leadership are rooted in the Progressive belief that unelected experts should be trusted with promoting the general welfare in just about every area of social life. If political interests continue to force Congress and the President to act directly on all manner of societal problems, the federal bureaucracy will continue to be overwhelmed. Unlimited utopian Progressive aspirations cannot be squared with constitutional government. Reform must address both the meri..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

The Rise and Fall of Political Parties in America

Political parties are not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. Nevertheless, America’s founders understood that the republic they were founding requires parties as a means for keeping government accountable to the people. Throughout America’s history, the power of political parties has risen and fallen, reaching their nadir in the last few decades. Americans today attribute to parties the very maladies from which great parties would save us if only we would restore them. Great political parties of the past put party principles above candidate personalities and institutionalized resources to maintain coalitions based on principle. They moderated politics and provided opportunities for lead..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

The Census Advisory Committee on Race and Ethnicity Must Be Terminated

Why does the Trump Administration continue to allow the U.S. Census to be co-opted by well-organized pressure groups devoted to identity politics, such as MALDEF and Asian Americans Advancing Justice? This stranglehold began in full force in the 1970s. Without authority from Congress to amend the Census’s constitutionally enumerated powers—to count people so as to apportion electoral seats—networks of activists and academics, so-called stakeholders, have turned the enumeration into a vehicle for dividing the country into identity groups based on racial, ethnic, and sexual identity, helping dispense special benefits to them. To obtain this outcome, these organizations intimidated Census..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

Would Repealing the 17th Amendment Revive Federalism?

Many believe that repealing the 17th Amendment is key to reinvigorating federalism and reining in federal overreach. In the highly unlikely event that the 17th Amendment were to actually be repealed, it would bring about only marginal change—as some advocates of repeal frankly admit. Post-repeal, Senators and state legislators alike would still have strong incentives to keep grant money flowing to the states, with power centralized in Washington. In fact, state legislators would have strong incentives to give up their power over senatorial selection by instituting de facto elections, as 19th-century legislators did. Given the low likelihood of success, supporters of constitutional federali..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

Blue Slips for Judicial Nominations: Veto vs. Input

Four nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals have become controversial because of an important, but often misunderstood, feature of the judicial confirmation process. That feature, called the “blue-slip” courtesy, highlights the views of Senators from a state in which a judicial nominee would serve. The dispute is whether those views should dictate, or merely influence, whether the Senate considers these nominees. Because highlighting the views of home-state Senators about judicial nominees is a courtesy and not required by any Senate rule, each Judiciary Committee chairman is free to decide whether, and how, to incorporate those views into the confirmation process.

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

White House Rulemaking Review: An Essential Element of Regulatory Reform

Heavy-handed federal regulation acts like an excessive tax on the American economy, stifling economic growth and innovation. In order to enhance its effectiveness in paring back overregulation, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) should extend its cost-benefit oversight to rules proposed by “independent” federal agencies, which are responsible for a large proportion of onerous regulations. President Trump, therefore, should promulgate an executive order directing independent agencies to submit their major rules for OIRA analysis, consistent with his constitutional authority to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. That Order should also require independent a..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

A Model for Executive Reorganization

Decades of expansion by the federal government have led to the creation of hundreds of government departments, bureaus, agencies, and offices, all of which are plagued by an inefficient and outdated federal bureaucracy expanding far beyond the government’s constitutional responsibilities. President Trump has called for a comprehensive government-wide reorganization aimed at paring back unnecessary, wasteful, and duplicative bureaucracy. Comprehensive and meaningful reforms will require buy-in from Congress. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle support removing wasteful programs and improving governmental efficiency, but they often oppose specific reforms that could negatively impact specia..

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

The President’s Reorganization Authority

The President may be able to accomplish some reorganization goals through particular statutory delegations of authority, executive orders, department memos, management policies, and other devices, but to accomplish major reorganization objectives, he will need explicit statutory authority from Congress, a viable procedure to enact reorganization plans, and a feasible implementation strategy. As for the details of any reorganization plan, exact limits on the President’s authority to reorganize the executive branch “can properly be analyzed only in light of the particular changes which are proposed” and the relevant constitutional provisions and statutory authority.

Heritage Foundation > Political Process

The Defense of an Energetic and Limited Government

Heritage Foundation > Political Process