Censuring the President: Selected CRS reports

Censure of the President by the Congress (December 8, 1998 98-843): “Exploring a possible compromise between an impeachment and taking no congressional action, certain Members of Congress and congressional commentators have suggested a congressional “censure” of the President to express the Congress’ disapproval of the President’s conduct which has been the subject of an ongoing independent counsel investigation. This report provides an overview and discussion of the legal basis and congressional precedents regarding a congressional “censure” of the President.”

Congressional Consideration of Resolutions to “Censure” Executive Branch Officials (September 14, 2017 IN10774): “Over the history of the federal Congress, Members have proposed resolutions to formally express the House or Senate’s censure, disapproval, loss of confidence, or condemnation of the President or other executive branch official or their actions. This Insight summarizes the parliamentary procedures the House and Senate might use to consider a resolution to censure or condemn an executive branch official and provides links to additional reading material on the subject.

Two Types of “Censure” Resolutions

An important distinction should be made between two types of “censure” resolutions: (1) resolutions expressing the sense of the House or Senate that the behavior or actions of an executive branch official should be condemned or censured and (2) resolutions that censure a Member of Congress for “disorderly behavior,” including ethical violations.

Resolutions that censure officials of the executive branch for abuse of power or inappropriate behavior, including ethical violations, are usually simple resolutions of the House or Senate. Such resolutions, however, are distinct in an important way from the simple resolutions by which either chamber may censure one of its own Members, even though the reasons for censure may be similar. Article I, Section 5, of the Constitution grants each chamber the power to discipline its own members, and resolutions censuring a Senator or Representative are based on this power. Resolutions censuring an official of another branch, on the other hand, are merely expressions of the sense of the House or the Senate about the conduct of an individual over whom Congress has no disciplinary authority (except through impeachment). Consequently, both houses treat these two types of “censure” resolutions very differently in a parliamentary sense. Resolutions of either type, however, have been rare.”

Also, Resolutions Censuring the President: History and Context, 1st-114th Congresses (September 14, 2017 IN10775). — Joe

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