Power of the purse


Power of the purse

The power of the purse is the ability of one group to manipulate and control the actions of another group by withholding funding, or putting stipulations on the use of funds. The power of the purse can be used positively (e.g. awarding extra funding to programs that reach certain benchmarks) or negatively (e.g. removing funding for a department or program, effectively eliminating it). The power of the purse is most often utilized by forces within a government that do not have direct executive power but have control over budgets and taxation.

In the United Kingdom

The power of the purse's earliest examples in a modern sense is by the English Parliament, which was given the exclusive power to levy taxes and thus could control the nation's cash flow. Through this power, Parliament slowly subverted the powers of the English monarchy and limited the powers of the king. For example, King Charles II was limited in his powers to engage in various war efforts by a refusal by Parliament to levy further taxes and his inability to secure loans from foreign nations.

In the United States

The power of the purse plays a critical role in the relationship of the United States Congress and the President of the United States, and has been the main historic tool by which Congress can limit executive power. One of the most recent examples is the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which eliminated all military funding for the government of South Vietnam and effectively ended the Vietnam War. Other recent examples include limitations on military funding placed on Ronald Reagan by Congress, which lead to the withdrawal of United States Marines from Lebanon. Appropriation bills cannot originate in the Senate but the Senate can amend appropriation bills that originate in the House. Thus, regardless of Senate support, the House could pass no appropriation bills and cut off supply from the entire government. The House could not, however, cut off supply from only specific parts of the government or specific government programs without the Senate's support, since the Senate can amend any appropriation bill that the House passes.

The power of the purse was famously subverted during the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s. Congress denied further aid to the Contras in Nicaragua. Unwilling to accept the will of Congress, members of the Reagan Administration solicited private donations, set up elaborate corporate schemes and brokered illegal arms deals with Iran in order to generate unofficial funds that could not be regulated by Congress.

Presently, budget limitations and using the power of the purse form a controversial part of discussion regarding Congressional opposition to the Iraq War. On March 23, 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a supplemental war budget that imposed a timeline on the presence of American combat troops in Iraq, but the legislation was not implemented.

ee also

*Taxing and Spending Clause


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • hold the purse strings — verb To be in control of spending; to have financial power and responsibility …   Wiktionary

  • Purse (disambiguation) — A purse is a large or small handbag in American English, and a small money container similar to a wallet in British English.Purse may also refer to: * Samaritan s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization * Purse seine, a type …   Wikipedia

  • Purse — Purse, n. [OE. purs, pors, OF. burse, borse, bourse, F. bourse, LL. bursa, fr. Gr. ? hide, skin, leather. Cf. {Bourse}, {Bursch}, {Bursar}, {Buskin}.] 1. A small bag or pouch, the opening of which is made to draw together closely, used to carry… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Purse crab — Purse Purse, n. [OE. purs, pors, OF. burse, borse, bourse, F. bourse, LL. bursa, fr. Gr. ? hide, skin, leather. Cf. {Bourse}, {Bursch}, {Bursar}, {Buskin}.] 1. A small bag or pouch, the opening of which is made to draw together closely, used to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Purse net — Purse Purse, n. [OE. purs, pors, OF. burse, borse, bourse, F. bourse, LL. bursa, fr. Gr. ? hide, skin, leather. Cf. {Bourse}, {Bursch}, {Bursar}, {Buskin}.] 1. A small bag or pouch, the opening of which is made to draw together closely, used to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Purse pride — Purse Purse, n. [OE. purs, pors, OF. burse, borse, bourse, F. bourse, LL. bursa, fr. Gr. ? hide, skin, leather. Cf. {Bourse}, {Bursch}, {Bursar}, {Buskin}.] 1. A small bag or pouch, the opening of which is made to draw together closely, used to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Purse rat — Purse Purse, n. [OE. purs, pors, OF. burse, borse, bourse, F. bourse, LL. bursa, fr. Gr. ? hide, skin, leather. Cf. {Bourse}, {Bursch}, {Bursar}, {Buskin}.] 1. A small bag or pouch, the opening of which is made to draw together closely, used to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • The Subjection of Women — is the title of an essay written by John Stuart Mill in 1869, possibly jointly with his wife Harriet Taylor Mill, stating an argument in favor of equality between the sexes. At the time it was published, this essay was an affront to European… …   Wikipedia

  • The Cheetah Girls (novel series) — The Cheetah Girls is a 16 book novel series created and written by Deborah Gregory. The series, which began in 1999, is about a female vocal group seeking success and fortune. In the book series, there are five Cheetah Girls, but in the film… …   Wikipedia

  • purse strings — purse′ strings n. pl. cvb the right or power to determine the disposition of financial resources: Who holds the purse strings in your family?[/ex] • Etymology: 1450–1500 …   From formal English to slang


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.