Congress and the Executive Branch: Investigations

“The Senate as a Court of Impeachment for the Trial of Andrew Johnson,” wood engraving by Theodore R. Davis, Harper’s Weekly, April 11, 1868

Congress’s oversight authority is an implied, but vital, constitutional power.

The nation’s founders, mindful of human nature and the potentially corrupting effects of power, anticipated congressional oversight of the federal government. In addition to investigating misuse of federal funds and abuses of power, Congress also gathers information needed to create new legislation. The power to investigate is one of Congress’s most important tools for developing effective public policy, conducting oversight, and informing the public.