When George Washington visited the Senate in August 1789 to get approval to negotiate a treaty with the Creek Indians, he became the first president to throw up his hands in frustration at dealing with the legislative branch. Senators demanded additional documents and tried to refer the decision to a committee. To which Washington reportedly said, "This defeats every purpose of my coming here," and promptly left.
So, you see, Congress has always been a pain in the neck for American presidents. Some 222 years later, as Washington squabbles over the debt ceiling (which has led some to call this Congress the worst ever), a bit of context is in order. Here are five examples of times when congressional combativeness really screwed up White House foreign policy.
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