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. There are 535 total members in congress. The framers viewed the legislative branch as the most powerful branch. When congress meets its called a session and this happens once a year. We got the bicameral legislature from the great compromise. The United States House of Representatives is one of the two houses of the United States Congress (bicameral legislature). It is frequently referred to as the House. The house of reps has 435 members in it. They are determined by the state’s population. The representatives serve two year terms. The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States. There are 100 members total in the senate. Each state has two senators and they serve 6 years. The leadership of the House of Representatives and US Senate are congressional leaders. The leader of the House of Reps is the Speaker of the House. The leader is chosen from majority vote of the house. These leaders jobs are to name members to committees, sign bills, and lead floor debates. The leaders of the senate are the President pro temp and the Vice president. The jobs of the floor leaders is to carry out decisions of their party, steer floor actions of their party and help gain voters for bills. The party whip gets members of their party to vote a certain way on their party. A committee is a small group of congress. Congress breaks up into a committee to handle all the bills. The standing committee is permanent committee of congress. Select committee sets up for a specific reason, investigate. Joint committee is made with both houses of congress. Conference finds differences in bills. Two ways to get assigned to a committee is appointed by vice president or president pro temp or who’s been there the longest. The leader of the committee is the committee chairman. The leader of the committee leads discussions and decides bills. All legislative power in the government is vested in Congress, meaning that it is the only part of the government that can make new laws or change existing laws. Expressed powers are powers written in the constitution that regulate trade and power to lay and collect taxes. Implied powers are not expressly stated in the constitution. An example is building of power dams and roads. The elastic clause is congress has the power to make all laws which shall be necessary and allows congress to stretch out and carry out expressed powers. Most of congress’s powers relate to legislature. Congress collects taxes to pay for services of the government like debt, military, and entitlement programs. Tax bills start in the House of Reps because its closet to the people. Bills that involve the spending of money are appropriations bills. Bill to spend money start in the House of Reps. The Commerce Clause is an enumerated power listed in the United States Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3). The clause states that the United States Congress shall have power "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations and among the several States. Foreign relations refers to the ongoing management of relationships between a public policy administrative organization of a state and other entities external to its authority or influence. Congress has the power to declare war. The potus-president makes treaties with other countries. The senate approves treaties with other countries. Potus and congress control trade with other countries. Nonlegislative means powers that do not relate to making laws. Three examples of nonlegislative powers are impeachment, approve appointments, and reject appointments. The senate has the power to approve or reject presidential appointments. Impeachment or removed from office can happen if a federal official commits serious wrong doings. The House of Reps job during impeachment is to determine if enough evidence for trial is available. The senate’s job during impeachment is to determine guilt or innocence. Andrew Johnson and bill Clinton are the only two presidents to be impeached, but they were not removed from office. Another role congress has to take on is investigation of wrong doings by government. In 1792 congress began conducting investigations. The investigations can lead to new laws, and impeachment. The Bill of Rights is where you can find what congress can’t do. Passing laws, taking away freedom of speech, press, religion and petition are things they can’t take away. A writ of habeas corpus requires a person accused of a crime to go before a judge to be told the nature of his/her offense. A bill of attainder is to punish without trial. Ex post laws are laws that make an act in crime after the act has been committed. Limited government is a principle of the constitution that also limits powers of congress. Veto is one power the president has over congress. Declar
e a law unconstitutional is one power that the courts have over congress. There are different types of bills. The job of congress is nations lawmaking body. Private bills are bill that measures that apply to certain persons or places instead nation. Public bills apply to whole nation. A resolution is a statement that expresses lawmaker’s opinions or decisions. Joint resolutions have the same force as a law. Every bill starts as a idea. Suggestions for bills come from citizens, president, congress, and special interest groups. Congress member can introduce bills in congress. Appropriations are bills that involve money. Bills start in the House of Reps. Once a bill is induced it is given a number and sent to a committee.
1. A member of Congress introduces a bill.
When a senator or representative introduces a bill, it is sent to the clerk of the Senate or House, who gives it a number and title. Next, the bill goes to the appropriate committee. 2. Committees review and vote on the bill.
Committees specialize in different areas, such as foreign relations or agriculture, and are made up of small groups of senators or representatives. The committee may reject the bill and “table” it, meaning it is never discussed again. Or it may hold hearings to listen to facts and opinions, make changes in the bill and cast votes. If most committee members vote in favor of the bill, it is sent back to the Senate and the House for debate. 3. The Senate and the House debate and vote on the bill.
Separately, the Senate and the House debate the bill, offer amendments and cast votes. If the bill is defeated in either the Senate or the House, the bill dies. Then the bill goes before all of Congress for a vote. If a majority of both the Senate and the House votes for the bill, it goes to the President for approval. 4. The President signs the bill—or not.
If the President approves the bill and signs it, the bill becomes a law. However, if the President disapproves, he can veto the bill by refusing to sign it. Congress can try to overrule a veto. If both the Senate and the House pass the bill by a two-thirds majority, the President's veto is overruled and the bill becomes a law.