Congressional Powers

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The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States of America, consisting of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election. As provided by the United States Constitution, each of the 435 members of the House of Representatives represents a district and serves a two-year term. House seats are apportioned among the states by population. The 100 Senators serve staggered six-year terms. Each state has two senators, regardless of population. Every two years, approximately one-third of the Senate is elected. Article I of the Constitution vests all legislative power in the Congress. The House and Senate are equal partners in the legislative process (legislation cannot be enacted without the consent of both chambers); however, the Constitution grants each chamber some unique powers. The Senate is empowered to approve treaties and presidential appointments. Revenue-raising bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which also has the sole power of impeachment, while the Senate has the sole power to try impeachment cases. Article I of the Constitution sets forth most of the powers of Congress, which include numerous explicit powers enumerated in Section 8. Constitutional amendments have granted Congress additional powers. Congress also has implied powers derived from the necessary-and-proper clause of the Constitution. Congress has authority over financial and budgetary matters, through the enumerated power to "lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States." (Power of the purse) The Sixteenth Amendment extended power of taxation to include income taxes. The Constitution also gives Congress power over appropriating funds, with all government spending required to be included in congressional appropriations. This power is an important...
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