PULLMAN, Wash. — With an impeachment battle between Congress and the president raging in Washington D.C., sometimes it’s difficult to figure out who’s in charge of the country.
“We need a new way of understanding presidential-congressional politics,” says Lance T. LeLoup, a political science professor at Washington State University and co-author with Steven A. Shull of a new book on presidential-congressional relations. “That’s one of the things we tried to do with this book.
“We agreed that a lot of the literature on how Congress and the president make policy was out-of-date. The old model that the president proposes and the Congress disposes really isn’t valid anymore.”
LeLoup has written extensively on American politics, the American presidency and Congress. The new book, “The President and Congress: Collaboration and Combat in National Policymaking,” published by Allyn and Bacon, is written with Shull, a long-time collaborator. Shull is a political science professor at the University of New Orleans.
The book examines several areas of policymaking, including historical views of patterns dating back to the early days of the framing of the Constitution. It examines four basic patterns: presidential leadership, congressional leadership, cooperation/consensus and deadlock/extraordinary resolution. In addition, the book compares cases in foreign affairs, civil rights, social welfare, the economy and the budget.
The book includes examples of policies, both successful and unsuccessful. Examples include President Bill Clinton’s failed push for health care reform in 1994, the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the Republicans’ “Contract with America” in 1994.
“One of the things we show is that there has been more partisanship in Congress,” LeLoup said. “The Republicans and Democrats have become more polarized since the early 1980s. What that requires, when there are situations of deadlock and stalemate, is for Congress and the president to come up with new vehicles, new mechanisms, for working out their differences. Those particularly are summits and bipartisan commissions. They are using these new creative institutions to reconcile the sharp differences between the two parties.”
This is LeLoup and Shull’s third book on the theme of the president-Congress relations. “Congress and the President: The Policy Connection” was published in 1993 by Wadsworth Inc. and “The Presidency: Studies in Public Policy” was published in 1979 by Kings Court Communications.
“I have a bit more expertise on the Congress and he has a bit more expertise on the presidency,” LeLoup said. “So together we can bring a somewhat different perspective to the relationship between the Congress and the president.”
LeLoup joined the WSU faculty in 1996 as chair of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice. He was also recently named the interim director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at WSU.
LeLoup hopes to use the book in a class in the future. Jenine Duffey of Allyn and Bacon said that the book has already been adopted at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., and a number of other universities and colleges across the country.
Before coming to WSU, LeLoup served as the director of the Public Policy Research Centers at the University of Missouri-St. Louis from 1989-1996. He also served as that institution’s chair of the political science department and as the director of its masters degree program in public policy administration.