Separating Power Series: Presidential Influence v. Control Over Independent Agencies [March 23, 2015] [open pdf - 62KB]
"Congressional committees have launched probes to determine whether the White House exerted 'improper influence' on the development of the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) recently approved net neutrality rule. The FCC is an independent agency headed by five commissioners, one of whom is selected by the President to be the Chairman. Critics of the approved rule argue that it noticeably deviates from initial proposals put forth by the FCC and, instead, closely aligns with the approach the President publicly outlined in November 2014. Because of this shift, and reports that the White House was involved in 'thwart[ing]' the FCC in its initial proposals, the committees question whether the President has overstepped his authority in a manner that threatens the independence of the FCC. It is generally thought that because the President cannot control independent agency action, such agencies are free from presidential influence; however, news of the events at the FCC has given rise to the age-old question--just how independent are independent agencies? This two-part post examines whether there are any legal limitations that prevent the President from influencing independent agencies."
CRS Legal Sidebar, March 23, 2015
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html