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Les questions écrites au gouvernement : quelle réalité aux Etats-Unis ?

Abstract : While written questions to the government can be defined as written requests for information from parliamentarians to which the is required to government respond, no such mechanism exists in the United States. Nevertheless, the US Congress does have significant formal and informal means of obtaining information from the executive. Examining these sheds light on issues relating to the power and place of parliamentarians within American democracy, implicitly providing a new perspective on understanding the mechanism of written questions to the government in systems where it exists, particularly in France. Various mechanisms are provided for in legal texts to enable Congress to be informed. The best known and most powerful of these are committee hearings. However, several other tools exist that parliamentarians can utilise, either individually or collectively. In addition, in addition to formalised procedures, what Americans call the "service to electors" – a type of assistance in the relations that citizens may have with the various federal agencies and organisations, with the parliamentarian acting as a sort of mediator – should also be noted. In this case, the American practice can be compared to that of written questions to the government. These interactions between parliamentarians and members of federal agencies constitute a source of information and a means of influence for members of Congress, as in the practice of written questions to the government. As such, an examination of the various ways in which American parliamentarians can obtain information from the executive highlights the importance of this activity, which is essential to the exercise of Congress’s constitutional functions. That Congress be informed appears to be a prerequisite for both the drafting of legislation and the supervision of those in power. This cannot be reduced to the political responsibility of the government, which does not exist in the US, but appears to be a much broader duty with multiple ramifications. As such, Congress members’ sources of information ensure not only the accountability of the executive and the publicity of state action, but also the influence of parliamentarians in the normative production of other state authorities and a particular form of citizen representation owing to the intermediary role they can play between individuals and the state apparatus. In this respect, the American experience leads us to reflect on the meaning of the concept of representation and on the different ways in which it is exercised in contemporary democracies.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - 10:45:29 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 27, 2022 - 3:34:12 AM


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  • HAL Id : hal-03543669, version 1


Audrey Bachert. Les questions écrites au gouvernement : quelle réalité aux Etats-Unis ?. Civitas Europa, Institut de recherches sur l'évolution de la Nation et de l'État IRENEE (Université de Lorraine), 2021, Dossier spécial : les questions écrites au gouvernement, pp.83-99. ⟨hal-03543669⟩



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