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Mar 31

Congress’ Role in U.S. Foreign and Defense Policy: A View from Inside Capitol Hill

The creation, implementation and oversight of U.S. foreign and defense policy differs significantly from how foreign and defense policy is made in most counties around the world.  The core reason for this different modus operandi originates in the U.S. Constitution, which is significantly distinct from the parliamentary form of government that serves as the base for many of the world's countries.  The U.S.'s Founders separated powers into the legislative, executive and judicial branches to create checks and balances to ensure that undue power would not be combined in any one branch of government.  This includes foreign and defense policy.  Under the U.S. Constitution the legislative branch has specific enumerated foreign and defense powers.  Since all revenue raising and spending bills must originate in the House, the House plays a leading role in collecting taxes and tariffs on international trade and providing the appropriations necessary for supporting the armed services and the implementation of foreign policy. The Senate's powers include the of advise and consent for treaties and confirmation of senior executive branch officials and senior military officers.  Both chambers have powers to exercise oversight, regulate international trade and declare war.  In addition congressional committees frequently find themselves in competition for jurisdiction. 


The making of U.S. foreign and defense policy is frequently misunderstood and often considered enigmatic and fascinating by international observers.  A common sentiment emanating from overseas, embassy row and the international military community is "Why can't the president just tell Congress to do something?" or "Why is Congress doing that and blocking this?"  Join us for a special briefing featuring four key Capitol Hill staffers, two from each chamber and two from each side of the aisle for an insightful discussion on Congress' role in foreign and defense policy.    

More About the Speakers

Evelyn Farkas
Professional Staff,
Senate Armed Services Committee

Jonathan Katz,
Staff Director,
House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe and
Senior Advisor,
Office of Congressman Robert Wexler

Chris Socha
Senior Policy Advisor,
Office of Senator Jim DeMint,
Ranking Republican,
Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe

Sam Stratman
Communications Director,
Republican Staff,
House Foreign Affairs Committee

Hosted By

James Dean James Dean

Manager, International and Diplomatic Programs Read More