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The President’s Legislative Policy Agenda, 1789–2002, Jeffrey E. Cohen

Reviewed by Andrew E. Busch



Article II of the United States Constitution gives to the President the power to recommend to the consideration of Congress “such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” From George Washington on, presidents have used that provision to propose a legislative policy agenda for Congress. In The President’s Legislative Policy Agenda, 1789–2002, Fordham political scientist Jeffrey E. Cohen offers an exhaustive examination and analysis of the evolution and dynamics of the President’s legislative agenda.

Cohen is particularly interested in the calculations that go into the Presi­dent’s decisions about whether and how to promote a piece of legislation that he wants to recommend. Why, Cohen asks, does the President seemingly so often propose bills that have little chance of enactment? What have trends been over time? Does the type of issue matter? And what sort of difference does divided government and partisan polarization make to the President’s agenda?

Many previous studies have examined presidential success on roll call votes in terms of position‐taking—how often does the President’s position prevail when he makes it known? This book looks instead at the important subset of bills that the President h

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