Annie Benn

2022 Synar Graduate Research Fellowship

Annie Benn is a PhD candidate in political science at UC Berkeley. She studies US political institutions, with a particular interest in executive branch policymaking. Prior to Berkeley, she worked for the energy and climate nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute. She holds an MPA from New York University, and a BA with Honors from Swarthmore College.

Annie's Research: An important area of focus in the study of American political institutions is the expansion of presidential power, and the Congressional response (or lack thereof) to this expansion. Existing research on Congressional checks on unilateral power generally looks for direct responses, such as legislation contravening an Executive order. However, I argue that Congress can also check the expansion of presidential power indirectly, through their oversight of administrative agencies. In my dissertation project I conceptualize unilateral action not as the president “going it alone” in opposition to Congress, but as delegation to agencies, which are themselves subject to Congressional oversight. This reconception illuminates mechanisms of indirect Congressional responses to unilateral action. The project comprises three main contributions: a formal model of indirect Congressional response to unilateral action; a novel measure of unilateral action as delegation, and an investigation of how the historical use of delegation in unilateral actions; and an empirical analysis of Congressional oversight of unilateral actions as mediated by agency execution of those directives.

Research interests: 

Major(s): PHD Candidate, Political Science