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What Is the Difference Between Executive and Independent Agencies?

Does the President have the same amount of control over all federal administrative agencies? Professor Christopher Walker explains how the President has direct control over executive agencies but has less authority over independent agencies. Although both types of agencies execute the law, Congress has decided that independent agencies should be more insulated from political control. https://youtube.com/watch?v=qL9kqmn-dUA


Under Article II of the Congress, the President of the United States has the power to execute the laws, and he does that mainly through federal agencies. Most federal agencies are what we call executive agencies. They're under direct control of the President. The President nominates the heads of the agencies, and the President can remove those head of the agencies at will. The President reviews major regulations before they go into effect to make sure that they comply with the law and that they've taken the right procedures. And so, the President plays a really strong predominant role in overseeing, controlling, directing those federal agencies, these executive agencies. There are some agencies, however, that are called independent agencies. These agencies are more removed from Presidential oversight. The President still nominates the heads of these agencies but may have less ability to remove the heads of the agencies. Many of theses agencies are commissions, so think the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Elections Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission. Congress has decided that certain agencies should be more insulated from the political branches, or better said more insulated from the President. Why Congress makes certain agencies independent or less controlled by the President goes back to policy. For instance, a lot of our financial regulators are independent agencies or commissions like the Securities and Exchange Commission. Congress has made the determination that when we're regulating financial markets, we might not want the President to be able to control as much how these markets work. So, Congress has created a system like the Securities and Exchange Commission where there's a simple majority of the President's party in control of that commission. Other ones, like the Federal Communications Commission, Congress has decided that telecommunications should be insulated from Presidential review, and so it has a structure, again, a simple majority structure where you've got democrats and republicans in the chairs. Right now, a republican with a republican administration. And the idea, again, is to remove the President and politics from playing a day to day role in how that agency regulates.

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