Monday, 11 February 2013
The Week Ahead - and the impact of constitutional principles
It’s an interesting week ahead. The big event should be Tuesday’s State of the Union speech by the President. (Wednesday, very early hours – if you are in the UK). It will set out the legislative agenda that the President would like to see. However, unlike the Queen’s Speech, which is written for her by the Government, Obama doesn’t have the power to enforce his will. In the UK the Government can announce its programme – and know that it will get most if not all its programme through. This is (at least for the Executive) shows the downside of the separation of powers.
Michael Gove will be accused of misleading Parliament over his knowledge of bullying by his aides. He told the Education Select Committee recently that he had not heard of any complaints, but a major payoff was made to a complainant. Either he misled the committee or he is incredibly unaware of what is going on in his department. Either way, because there is a coalition majority – and he commands the confidence of the Prime Minister – he’s not going to face any parliamentary imposed sanction.
On the other hand – separation of powers again at the heart of this – Obama will face a challenging week as his nominees for the Cabinet face confirmation in the Senate. He can’t rely on the Executive controlling the legislature as it does in Britain.