Proposed System of Parliamentary Secretaries for Congress

February 12, 1925

Report Outline
Contact Between Legislative and Executive Branches
Two Previous Proposals for Parliamentary Secretaries

The present session of Congress has witnessed renewed discussion of the proposal that the Executive departments of the Government be brought into closer working contact with Congress by the institution of a system resembling the system of parliamentary secretaries in use in Great Britain and other countries. The principal feature of such a plan would be the presence in the chambers of Congress of heads of departments or their deputies to give instant information for the guidance of legislators when bills affecting their branches of the public service were under consideration.

Such a proposal has been strongly advocated by Congressional and other leaders in the past, and has received serious consideration, but has never reached the stage of final adoption. Opposition to the plan has been based upon a belief that any mingling of the functions of the Legislative and Executive branches of the Government would be repugnant to the theory of the Constitution, under which three distinct branches were set up in the belief that their independent functioning would erect a system of checks and balances tending to inter-correction of ill judgments on the part of any one of them.

A recent attack upon this separate functioning was made by Senator LaFollette, with his proposal for an intermingling of legislative and judicial functions through the adoption of a constitutional amendment which would make decisions of the Supreme Court in constitutional cases subject to Congressional review.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Organization of Congress
Powers and History of the Presidency