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How Media Outlets Influence Policy in Washington, D.C.

The media — here meaning both actual journalists and the general medium of communication — are an integral part of Washington, D.C., politics and the policymaking process. Politicians can rise or fall [more…]

How Congress Controls the Budget in Washington, D.C.

Congress exists to prevent the executive branch in Washington, D.C., from exercising total control over U.S. legislation. The primary job of Congress is money and the budget — a subject that, one way or [more…]

How Congress Oversees Executive Branch Functions in Washington, D.C.

A major Constitutional check on the executive branch in Washington, D.C. is congressional oversight: the power to investigate and oversee the executive branch, usually carried out by congressional committees [more…]

The Structure of the Senate in Washington, D.C.

The Senate in Washington, D.C., is composed of two elected officials from each state in the Union, so the Senate has 100 members. In the Senate, each state gets an equal vote: Wyoming and California each [more…]

How the Vice Presidency Works in Washington, D.C.

Fourteen men who gained the vice presidency in Washington, D.C., subsequently became president: nine due to the death or resignation of the president, and five by direct election. [more…]

How Policymaking Works in Washington, D.C.

Policy is not made in a vacuum. It isn’t generated fully formed in the secret laboratories of policy wonks plugging away in Washington, D.C., think tanks — at least not always. Nor is it restricted to [more…]

How the Policy Triangle in Washington, D.C., Works

Making policy in Washington, D.C., is a complicated process that’s often riddled by compromises, half-baked ideas, and haphazardness. While the sausage-making analogy is often used, a slightly more elegant [more…]

How Advocacy Influences Policy in Washington, D.C.

Lobbyists, think tanks, activists, diplomats, international organizations, and the media all have an influence on policy in Washington, D.C. A lone citizen picking up the telephone can impact policy, as [more…]

How to Distinguish Direct and Indirect Advocacy in Washington, D.C.

In the Washington, D.C., advocacy from interested parties has become part and parcel of how the government makes informed decisions. In fact, our government views input from outside sources and stakeholders [more…]

How to Effectively Advocate in Washington, D.C.

The aim of advocacy is to influence policy in Washington, D.C. There are several keys to building an effective advocacy message for your organization or cause: [more…]

How Policies Can Have Unintended Consequences in Washington, D.C.

Excerpted from How Washington Actually Works For Dummies

Even well-intended and well-analyzed policies from Washington, D.C., can bring about unintended consequences. An action meant to bring about one [more…]

How Bills Become Laws in Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., politicians, lobbyists, and other participants understand that the policymaking process is fluid. Political gamesmanship and bargaining may hold up one bill for the sake of another [more…]

How Washington, D.C., Agencies Write Regulations to Support Laws

In Washington, D.C., Congress sets the framework of a broad policy mandate through legislation. Federal agencies then flesh out the policy supporting this mandate through the creation of more detailed [more…]

How PACs and Special Interests Work in Washington, D.C.

The campaign finance game in Washington, D.C., changed dramatically in 2010, when the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, [more…]

How Citizens United Makes Representatives Beholden in Washington, D.C.

Prior to Citizens United, campaign finance reform in Washington, D.C., had built steadily and aggressively from 1971 to 2002. In 1971, the Federal Election Campaign Act required the disclosure of donors’ [more…]

Washington, D.C.: Constitutional Duties of the President of the United States

The President of the United States has specific responsibilities laid out by the U.S. Constitution. In the age of television monitoring, however, the media tends to overemphasize the self-imposed presidential [more…]

The Limitations of the President in Washington, D.C.

Excerpted from How Washington Actually Works For Dummies

Many presidents have come to Washington, D.C., promising to shake up the city and fundamentally change the way it does business. They’re not part [more…]

How the President Uses the Bully Pulpit in Washington, D.C.

Presidents have often tried to find ways to circumvent their policymaking competitors in Washington, D.C., and no method is more conspicuous (and audible) than the presidential bully pulpit [more…]

How the President Uses His Support Team in Washington, D.C.

In addition to the Cabinet and the thousands of political appointments throughout the government in Washington, D.C., the president relies heavily on the White House staff: his inside team of personal [more…]

Does the President Govern from a Bubble in Washington, D.C.?

All rulers risk losing touch with the people they rule, and today’s president in Washington, D.C., protected by a phalanx of Secret Service agents and handpicked supporters at every public event, inevitably [more…]

How Money Influences Campaigning and Policymaking in Washington, D.C.

Running for president of the United States is very expensive — and becoming increasingly so. The Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C., estimated that the 2008 presidential campaigns cost [more…]

How Swing States Gain Disproportionate Power in Washington, D.C.

Most presidential aspirants strive to be elected, and most incumbents already in Washington, D.C., strive to be reelected. Inevitably, the electoral system exercises a strong influence over a presidential [more…]

How Party Politics Influence Elections in Washington, D.C.

U.S. political parties in Washington, D.C., are less hierarchical than parliamentary systems of government and usually have multiple centers of power. For the party in power in a parliamentary system, [more…]

The President’s Typical Day in Washington, D.C.

Excerpted from How Washington Actually Works For Dummies

What does the president do in a typical day in Washington, D.C., — if such a thing exists? These days, you can actually check the president’s official [more…]

How Congress Oversees Policy Implementation in Washington, D.C.

Checks and balances are a core tenet of the U.S. political system in Washington, D.C., written in by the Founding Fathers. The three branches of government check on each other and balance each other so [more…]

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