FACTOID # 10: The total number of state executions in 2005 was 60: 19 in Texas and 41 elsewhere. The racial split was 19 Black and 41 White.
 
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Encyclopedia > Congress of the United States
Congress in Joint Session.
Congress in Joint Session.

The Congress of the United States is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States. It is bicameral, comprising the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives consists of 435 members, each of whom represents a congressional district and serves for a two-year term. House seats are apportioned among the states by population; in contrast, each state has two Senators, regardless of population. There are a total of 100 senators, who serve six-year terms. Both representatives and senators are directly elected by the people, but in some states the governor may appoint a temporary replacement when a Senate seat is vacant. President George W. Bush delivers his State of the Union address to the nation and a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, Jan. ... President George W. Bush delivers his State of the Union address to the nation and a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, Jan. ... // Legislative branch Article I of the Constitution grants all legislative powers of the federal government to the Congress, which is divided into two chambers, a Senate and a House of Representatives. ... In government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. ... The United States House of Representatives is one of the two houses of the Congress of the United States. ... Seal of the Senate The United States Senate is one of the two chambers of the Congress of the United States, the other being the House of Representatives. ... U.S. Congressional districts are determined after each census. ... The membership of the United States House of Representatives changes each decade following the decennial United States Census. ... A U.S. state is any one of the fifty states (four of which officially favor the term commonwealth) which, together with the District of Columbia and Palmyra Atoll (an uninhabited incorporated unorganized territory), form the United States of America. ...


The United States Constitution vests all legislative powers of the federal government in the Congress. The powers of Congress are limited to those enumerated in the Constitution; all other powers are reserved to the states and the people. The enumerated powers of Congress include the authority to regulate interstate and foreign commerce, to levy taxes, to establish federal courts inferior to the Supreme Court, to maintain the armed forces, and to declare war. The Constitution also includes the necessary-and-proper clause, which grants Congress the power to "make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers." The general purposes expressed in the Preamble have also been interpreted as authorizing Acts of Congress. The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. ... Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, known as the Commerce Clause, empowers the United States Congress To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes. ... International trade is the exchange of goods and services across international boundaries. ... A tax is a compulsory charge or other levy imposed on an individual or a legal entity by a state or a functional equivalent of a state (e. ... The United States federal courts are the system of courts organized under the Constitution and laws of the federal government of the United States. ... Seal of the Supreme Court Scotus redirects here. ... The armed forces of the United States of America consist of the United States Army United States Navy United States Air Force United States Marine Corps United States Coast Guard Note: The United States Coast Guard has both military and law enforcement functions. ... A Declaration of War is a formal declaration issued by a national government indicating that a state of war exists between that nation, and one or more others. ... The necessary and proper clause (also known as the elastic clause) refers to Article One Section 8 paragraph 18 of the United States Constitution: The interpretation of this phrase has been controversial, especially during the early years of the republic. ... The Preamble to the United States Constitution consists of a single sentence (a preamble) that introduces the document and its purpose. ... An Act of Congress is a bill or resolution adopted by both houses of the United States Congress to which one of the following events has happened: Acceptance by the President of the United States, Inaction by the President after ten days from reception (excluding Sundays) while the Congress is...


The Senate is fully equal to the House of Representatives, and is not a "chamber of review," as is the case with the upper houses of the bicameral legislatures of many other nations. However, there are some special powers granted to one chamber only. On the one hand, the Senate's advice and consent is required for presidential appointments to high-level executive and judicial positions, and for the ratification of treaties. On the other hand, bills for raising revenue may originate in the House of Representatives alone. A senate is a deliberative body, often the upper house or chamber of a legislature. ... A legislature is a governmental deliberative assembly with the power to adopt laws. ... US Capitol Building. ... The judiciary, also referred to as the judicature, consists of the system of courts of law for the administration of justice and to its principals, the justices, judges and magistrates among other types of adjudicators. ... A treaty is a binding agreement under international law concluded by subjects of international law, namely states and international organizations. ...


Both chambers meet in the Capitol in Washington, D.C. United States Capitol For other uses of Capitol Hill, see Capitol Hill (disambiguation). ... Washington, D.C. is the capital city of the United States of America. ...

The United States Capitol building
The United States Capitol building

Contents

US Capitol in daylight, taken by Kmccoy 2004-05-04. ... US Capitol in daylight, taken by Kmccoy 2004-05-04. ... United States Capitol For other uses of Capitol Hill, see Capitol Hill (disambiguation). ...


History

Main article: History of the United States Congress

The Congress of the United States derives from First Continental Congress, a meeting of representatives of twelve of Great Britain's seventeen North American colonies, in the autumn of 1774. On 4 July 1776, the Second Continental Congress declared thirteen former colonies independent states, referring to them as the "United States of America." Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress was a unicameral body in which each state was equally represented, and in which each state had a veto over most action. The ineffectiveness of the federal government under the Articles led Congress to summon the Convention of 1787. Originally intended to revise the Articles of Confederation, it ended up writing a completely new constitution. See Also: History of the United States Senate and History of the United States House of Representatives. ... The Continental Congress was the federal legislature of the Thirteen Colonies and later of the United States from 1774 to 1789, a period that included the American Revolutionary War and the Articles of Confederation. ... 1774 was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... July 4 is the 185th day of the year (186th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 180 days remaining. ... This article is about the year 1776. ... The Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, commonly known as the Articles of Confederation, formed the first governing document of the United States of America. ... Unicameralism is the practice of having only one legislative or parliamentary chamber. ... The word veto comes from Latin and literally means I forbid. ... This article discusses the history of the United States Constitution. ... The Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, commonly known as the Articles of Confederation, formed the first governing document of the United States of America. ...


James Madison called for a bicameral Congress: the lower house elected directly by the people, and the upper house elected by the lower house. The smaller states, however, favored a unicameral Congress with equal representation for the states. Eventually, a compromise was reached; the House of Representatives to provide proportional representation, whereas the Senate would provide equal representation. In order to preserve further the authority of the states, it was provided that state legislatures, rather than the people, would elect senators. James Madison (March 16, 1751 – June 28, 1836) was the fourth (1809–1817) President of the United States. ... In government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. ...


The post Civil War Gilded Age was marked by Republican dominance of Congress. Senate elections were tainted by corruption, bribery and gridlock preventing the election of a senator. These issues were addressed by the Seventeenth Amendment (ratified in 1913), which provided for the direct election of senators. A civil war is a war in which the competing parties are segments of the same country or empire. ... This article is in need of attention. ... The Republican Party, often called the GOP (for Grand Old Party), is a political party and is one of the two major political parties in the United States (the other being the Democratic Party). ... Bribery is the practice of offering a professional or an authority person money or other favours in order to circumvent ethics or other rules in a variety of situations. ... Gridlock is a term describing an inability to move on a transport network. ... Amendment XVII (the Seventeenth Amendment) of the United States Constitution ratified on April 8, 1913 and first in effect for the election of 1914, amends Article 1 Section 3 of the Constitution to provide for the direct election of Senators by the people of a state rather than their election... 1913 (MCMXIII) is a common year starting on Wednesday. ...


The early twentieth century witnessed the rise of party leadership in both houses of Congress. In the House of Representatives, the office of Speaker became extremely powerful. Leaders in the Senate were somewhat less powerful; individual senators still retained much of their influence. In particular, committee chairmen remained particularly strong in both houses until the reforms of the 1970s. (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s The 20th century lasted from 1901 to 2000 in the Gregorian calendar (often from (1900 to 1999 in common usage). ... Representative Dennis Hastert of Illinois is currently the Speaker of the House of Representatives. ... A Congressional committee in the parlance of the United States Congress and politics of the United States is a legislative sub-organization that handles a specific duty (rather than the general duties of Congress, making necessary and proper laws). ... The 1970s in its most obvious sense refers to the decade between 1970 and 1979. ...


During the long administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (193345), the Democratic Party controlled both houses of Congress. Both the Republicans and the Democrats were in control at various points during the next decade. However, after winning the elections of 1954, the Democratic Party was the majority party in both houses of Congress for most of the next forty years. The Republicans finally returned to a majority position, in both houses of Congress, in the election of 1994. The Republicans have controlled both houses since, except that the Democrats held the Senate briefly from 2001 to 2003. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), 32nd President of the United States (1933-1945), is best known for his leading the U.S. through the Great Depression via his New Deal, his building a powerful political coalition, the New Deal Coalition, that dominated American politics for decades... 1933 (MCMXXXIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... 1945 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ... The Democratic Party, founded in 1792, is the longest-standing political party in the world. ... 1954 (MCMLIV) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International year of the Family. ... 2001: A Space Odyssey. ... 2003 (MMIII) is a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Composition

Seal of the Congress.
Seal of the Congress.

The House of Representatives consists of 435 members representing the fifty states. Seats are apportioned among the states on the basis of population, but every state, regardless of size, is guaranteed at least one seat. Representatives are directly elected by single-member constituencies known as congressional districts. Each state may draw the boundaries of its districts, subject to certain legal requirements; for instance, districts must have approximately equal populations. Representatives serve for two-year terms. Image File history File links File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... The membership of the United States House of Representatives changes each decade following the decennial United States Census. ... U.S. Congressional districts are determined after each census. ...


The Senate consists of 100 members, two representing each state regardless of population. A senator is elected not by a district, but by a state as a whole. Senators serve for terms of six years each; the terms are staggered so that approximately one-third of the Senate seats are up for election every two years and so that both seats from a given state are never contested in the same general election (except for the first election of Senators upon admission of a new state). The District of Columbia and the territories are not represented in the Senate in any manner. A general election is an election in which all members of a given political body are up for election. ...


The Constitution makes no provision for representation in Congress for citizens of the District of Columbia or the territories. Attempts to change the situation, regarding lack of District of Columbia voting rights, including the proposed District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment, have been unsuccessful. Currently, the District of Columbia and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are represented by a single delegate each, while Puerto Rico elects a Resident Commissioner. Delegates and Resident Commissioners may participate in debates and vote in committees, but may not vote on the floor of the full House. Delegates serve for two-year terms; the Resident Commissioner serves for a four-year term. ... Many democracy activists argue for District of Columbia voting rights—i. ... The District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. ... A High Commissioner is a person serving in a special executive capacity. ...


Generally, the Republican and Democratic parties choose their candidates in primary elections. Ballot access rules for independent and third party candidates vary from state to state. General elections are held in every even-numbered year, on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November (Election Day). Special elections are held whenever vacancies arise; in the case of the Senate, however, the Governor of a state normally holds the power to temporarily appoint a senator until a special election can be held. In almost all cases, general and special elections are conducted by the first-past-the-post electoral system. Louisiana, however, uses runoff voting for congressional elections. The examples and perspective in this article do not represent a worldwide view. ... A ballot is a device used to record choices made by voters. ... It has been suggested that Third party politics be merged into this article or section. ... The contents of this page have been moved to http://en. ... More than one country has a day called Election Day. ... A by-election or bye-election is a special election held to fill a political office when the incumbent has died or resigned. ... The first-past-the-post electoral system is a voting system for single-member districts, variously called first-past-the-post (FPTP or FPP), winner-take-all, plurality voting, or relative majority. ... State nickname: Pelican State Official languages None; English and French de facto Capital Baton Rouge Largest city New Orleans at last official government census, but probably Baton Rouge since Hurricane Katrina Governor Kathleen Blanco (D) Senators Mary Landrieu (D) David Vitter (R) Area  - Total  - % water Ranked 31st 134,382 km... Runoff voting is a voting system used in single-seat elections. ...


Officers

The Constitution authorizes the House of Representatives to elect its own Speaker. The Speaker's powers as presiding officer are extensive; he or she controls the course of debate and enforces the rules of the House. Normally, the Speaker does not personally preside over debates; instead, the task is delegated to other members. The Speaker is also the head of the majority party, outranking the Majority Leader. Debate, also debating outside the United States and Canada, is a formalized system of (usually) logical argument. ... The majority leader is a term used in congressional systems for the chamber leader of the party in control of a legislature. ...


The Vice President of the United States is ex officio the President of the Senate; he or she has no vote except in the case of a tie. The Senate also elects a President pro tempore, or "temporary President," to preside when the Vice President is absent. The President pro tempore, by custom, is the most senior senator of the majority party. Neither the Vice President nor the President pro tempore regularly presides; instead, the duty is performed by other senators. The powers of the President pro tempore are much less extensive than those of the Speaker. He or she does not head the majority party in the Senate; rather, the Majority Leader is the full head of the Senate majority party. Richard B. Cheney, 46th and current Vice President of the United States The Vice President of the United States is the second-highest executive official of the United States government, the person who, in the words of Adlai Stevenson, is a heartbeat from the presidency. ... The President of the Senate is the title often given to the presiding officer, or chairman, of a senate. ... Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska is the current President pro tempore of the Senate. ...


Women, ethnic and racial minorities

Main article: Demographics of the United States Congress

Congress has historically not reflected the full diversity of the United States, despite the fact that the Constitution has never excluded persons from membership in Congress on the basis of race, ethnicity, or sex. The early Congresses were composed largely of upper-class White men. This changed briefly during the post-Civil War era of Reconstruction. The passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments expanded suffrage to former slaves. This, combined with the temporary exclusion of former members of the government of the Confederate States of America, permitted a number of African Americans to win seats. The Congress of the United States has demographics that are different than America as a whole in a number of ways. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... The American Civil War (1861–1865) was fought in North America within the United States of America, between twenty-four mostly northern states of the Union and the Confederate States of America, a coalition of eleven southern states that declared their independence and claimed the right of secession from the... In the history of the United States, reconstruction was the period after the American Civil War when the states of the breakaway Confederacy were reintegrated into the United States of America. ... Motto: Deo Vindice (Latin: With God As Our Vindicator) Anthem: God Save the South (unofficial) Dixie (popular) Capital Montgomery, Alabama February 4, 1861–May 29, 1861 Richmond, Virginia May 29, 1861–April 9, 1865 Danville, Virginia April 3–April 10, 1865 Largest city New Orleans February 4, 1861 until captured...


This movement reversed when Reconstruction ended and Southern states began disenfranchising blacks through the use of Jim Crow laws. During the remainder of the 19th century, and into the 20th century, racial, economic, and ethnic prejudice in the rest of the country largely kept out non-Protestants and the new waves of immigrants from southern Europe. This slowly began to change in the 20th century as these groups gained more political clout. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s 60s again enfranchised African-Americans, who gained more seats as a consequence. A depiction of T.D. Rices Jim Crow In the United States, the so-called Jim Crow laws were made to enforce racial segregation, and included laws that would prevent African Americans from doing things that a white person could do. ... Civil Rights Movement in the United States, political, legal, and social struggle to gain full citizenship rights for African American and to achieve racial equality. ... // Events and trends The 1950s in Western society was marked with a sharp rise in the economy for the first time in almost 30 years and return to the 1920s-type consumer society built on credit and boom-times, as well as the the baby boom from returning GIs who... The 1960s in its most obvious sense refers to the decade between 1960 and 1969, but the expression has taken on a wider meaning over the past twenty years. ...


Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to Congress, in 1916. Women could not vote or be elected in most of the United States until the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920. Rebecca Felton was the first woman to become a Senator in 1922, when she was appointed to fill a vacancy left by Georgia Senator Thomas E. Watson. As of 2005, there are 69 women serving the U.S. House and 14 in the U.S. Senate. This is the highest number of women to hold Congressional office at one time. Jeannette Rankin Jeannette Rankin (June 11, 1880 – May 18, 1973) was the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first female member of Congress. ... 1916 (MCMXVI) is a leap year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar) // Events January-February January 1 -The first successful blood transfusion using blood that had been stored and cooled. ... Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution Amendment XIX (the Nineteenth Amendment) to the United States Constitution (sometimes called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment) grants voting rights regardless of the voters sex. ... 1920 (MCMXX) is a leap year starting on Thursday (link will take you to calendar) // Events January January 7 - Forces of Russian White admiral Kolchak surrender in Krasnoyarsk. ... Rebecca Latimer Felton (June 10, 1835–January 24, 1930) was an American writer, teacher, reformer, and briefly a politician who became the first woman to serve in the United States Senate, filling an appointment on November 21, 1922, and serving until the next day. ... Thomas Edward Watson (5 September 1856–26 September 1922), generally known as Tom Watson, was a United States politician from Georgia. ... 2005 is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The House of Representatives is the larger of two houses that make up the U.S. Congress, the other being the United States Senate. ... The United States Senate is the upper house of the U.S. Congress, smaller than the United States House of Representatives. ...


Restrictions on office holding

Article I, Section 6, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution prohibits members of Congress from also holding a federal civil office, thus differentiating the U.S. from parliamentary systems where cabinet members are drawn from and continue to sit in the legislature. The same section also prohibits members from being appointed to offices created, or granted increased salary, during their term. This is intended to prevent the creation of sinecure positions. Wikisource has original text related to this article: Constitution of the United States of America#Article I Article One of the United States Constitution establishes the legislative branch of the United States government, known as the Congress, which includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. ... A parliamentary system, or parliamentarism, is distinguished by the executive branch of government being dependent on the direct or indirect support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. ... A sinecure (from Latin sine, without, and cura, care) means an office which requires or involves little or no responsibility, labour, or active service. ...


The Constitution does not prohibit Representatives or Senators from simultaneously holding a state post. During the eighteenth century, some members of Congress did also serve as state legislators and other state officials. Such cross-federal dual office holding is now prohibited by state constitutions or statutes, or by general custom. It also does not explicitly prohibit a particular person from serving in both the House and Senate at the same time or, for that matter, from simultaneously holding two or more seats in the House of Representatives. However, no person has ever done so; a member holding a seat in one house has always resigned that seat before starting their term in the other house. (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ...


Powers

Section 8 of Article One of the United States Constitution sets forth the powers of Congress. The most important powers are the powers to levy and collect taxes, borrow money, regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the states, coin money, establish courts inferior to the Supreme Court, raise and maintain the armed forces, and declare war. Wikisource has original text related to this article: Constitution of the United States of America#Article I Article One of the United States Constitution establishes the legislative branch of the United States government, known as the Congress, which includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. ...


There are additional powers other parts of the Constitution grant. For instance, Congress has the power to admit new states to the Union (Article Four). Other powers have been granted, or confirmed, by constitutional amendments. Article Four of the United States Constitution relates to the states. ... A constitutional amendment is an alteration to the constitution of a nation or a state. ...


Congress has the power to break deadlocks in the electoral college. If no presidential candidate achieves an electoral majority, the House may elect the President from the three candidates with the highest numbers of electoral votes. Similarly, if no vice presidential candidate achieves an electoral majority, the Senate may elect the Vice President from the two candidates with the highest numbers of electoral votes. Several of the members of the Constitutional Convention expected that, while George Washington would be overwhelmingly elected as first President under the Constitution, selection by the House would be the normal method after him. The United States Electoral College is the electoral college which chooses the President and Vice President of the United States at the conclusion of each Presidential election. ... The United States Electoral College is the electoral college which chooses the President and Vice President of the United States at the conclusion of each Presidential election. ... George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was the successful Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), and later became the first President of the United States, an office to which he was elected twice (1789-1797). ...


The "necessary and proper clause" of the Constitution permits Congress to make "all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution" its other powers and the rest of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has interpreted the necessary and proper clause broadly, which has permitted the Congress wide authority. The necessary and proper clause (also known as the elastic clause) refers to Section 8 of Article One of the United States Constitution: To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the...


One of the foremost non-legislative functions of the Congress is the power to investigate and to oversee the executive branch. This power is usually delegated to committees—standing committees, special committees, select committees, or joint committees composed of members of both houses. Investigations are conducted to gather information on the need for future legislation, to test the effectiveness of laws already passed, and to inquire into the qualifications and performance of members and officials of the other branches. Committees may hold hearings, and, if necessary, compel individuals to testify by issuing subpoenas. Witnesses who refuse to testify may be cited for contempt of Congress, and those who testify falsely may be charged with perjury. Most committee hearings are open to the public; important hearings are widely reported in the mass media. A subpoena (pronounced suh-pee-nuh) is a writ commanding a person to appear under penalty (from Latin). ... In the federal law of the United States, contempt of Congress is the crime of obstructing the work of U.S. Congress, with a punishment of up to one year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. ... Perjury is lying or making verifiably false statements under oath in a court of law. ... Mass media is a term used to denote, as a class, that section of the media specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience (typically at least as large as the whole population of a nation state). ...


Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution places certain limits of congressional authority. For instance, Congress may not suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus (except in extreme cases of rebellion or invasion), pass bills of attainder or ex post facto laws, or grant titles of nobility. Several other restrictions are specified by constitutional amendments, especially the Bill of Rights. The last clause of the Bill of Rights, the Tenth Amendment, provides that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Wikisource has original text related to this article: Constitution of the United States of America#Article I Article One of the United States Constitution establishes the legislative branch of the United States government, known as the Congress, which includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. ... In English Common Law habeas corpus is the name of several writs which may be issued by a judge ordering a prisoner to be brought before the court. ... A rebellion is, in the most general sense, a refusal to accept authority. ... An invasion is a military action consisting of troops entering a foreign land (a nation or territory, or part of that), often resulting in the invading power occupying the area, whether briefly or for a long period. ... A bill of attainder (also known as an act or writ of attainder) was an act of legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime, and punishing them, without benefit of a trial. ... An ex post facto law (Latin for from a thing done afterward), also known as a retrospective law, is a law that is retroactive, i. ... The Lords and Barons prove their Nobility by hanging their Banners and exposing their Coats-of-arms at the Windows of the Lodge of the Heralds. ... The Bill of Rights is the name given to the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution. ... Amendment X (the Tenth Amendment) of the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, was ratified on December 15, 1791. ...


Checks and balances

The constitution provides certain checks and balances among the three branches of the federal government. The influence of Congress on the presidency has varied from one period to another; it depends largely on the leadership and the political influence of the President. The authors of the Constitution expected the greater power to lie with Congress and that is one reason they are described in Article One. Under the first half-dozen Presidents, power seems to have been evenly divided between the President and Congress, in part because early Presidents largely restricted their vetoes to claims of unconstitutionality. The doctrine and practice of dispersing political power and creating mutual accountability between political entities such as the courts, the president or prime minister, the legislature, and the citizens. ...


Andrew Jackson (1829-37) dominated his Congresses; his successors were weaker men (excluding Abraham Lincoln (1861-65), and perhaps James K. Polk (1845-49) and Martin van Buren (1837-41)). Senators ruled, including Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Thomas Hart Benton, Stephen Douglas, and Thaddeus Stevens. The impeachment of Andrew Johnson completed this trend, making the presidency much less powerful than Congress. During the late nineteenth century, President Grover Cleveland aggressively attempted to restore the executive branch's power, vetoing over four hundred bills during his first term. The 20th and 21st centuries have seen the rise of the power of the Presidency under Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45), Richard Nixon (1969-74), Ronald Reagan (1981-89), and George W. Bush (2001–) (see Imperial Presidency). In recent years, Congress has restricted the powers of the President with laws such as the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and the War Powers Resolution; nevertheless, the Presidency remains considerably more powerful than during the nineteenth century. Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845), one of the founders of the Democratic Party, was the seventh President of the United States, serving from 1829 to 1837. ... 1829 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... 1837 was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865), sometimes called Abe Lincoln and nicknamed Honest Abe, the Rail Splitter, and the Great Emancipator, was the 16th President of the United States (1861 to 1865), and the first president from the Republican Party. ... 1861 is a common year starting on Tuesday. ... 1865 is a common year starting on Sunday. ... James Knox Polk (November 2, 1795–June 15, 1849) was the eleventh President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1845 to March 3, 1849. ... 1845 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... 1849 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... Martin Van Buren (December 5, 1782 – July 24, 1862), nicknamed Old Kinderhook, was the eighth President of the United States. ... 1837 was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... take you to calendar). ... Henry Clay Henry Clay (April 12, 1777 in Hanover County, Virginia – June 29, 1852 in Washington, D.C.) was an American statesman and orator who served in both the House of Representatives and Senate. ... Daniel Webster Daniel Webster (January 18, 1782 – October 24, 1852) was a United States Senator and Secretary of State. ... John C. Calhoun John Caldwell Calhoun (March 18, 1782 – March 31, 1850) was a prominent United States politician from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. ... Thomas Hart Benton (March 14, 1782–April 10, 1858), nicknamed Old Bullion, was an American Senator from Missouri and a staunch advocate of westward expansion of the United States. ... Stephen A. Douglas Stephen Arnold Douglas (April 23, 1813 - June 3, 1861), American politician from Illinois, was one of the Democratic Party nominees for President in 1860 (the other being John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky). ... Thaddeus Stevens Thaddeus Stevens (April 4, 1792 - August 11, 1868), also known as The Great Commoner, was a United States Representative from Pennsylvania. ... Depiction of the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, then President of the United States, in 1868. ... Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875) was the sixteenth Vice President (1865) and the seventeenth President of the United States (1865–1869), succeeding to the presidency upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. ... Stephen Grover Cleveland (March 18, 1837–June 24, 1908) was the 22nd (1885–1889) and 24th (1893–1897) President of the United States, and the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999 in the... The 21st century is the century that began on 1 January 2001 and will last to 31 December 2100. ... Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) was the 26th (1901–09) President of the United States. ... 1901 (MCMI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... 1909 (MCMIX) was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), 32nd President of the United States (1933-1945), is best known for his leading the U.S. through the Great Depression via his New Deal, his building a powerful political coalition, the New Deal Coalition, that dominated American politics for decades... 1933 (MCMXXXIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... 1945 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ... Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the thirty-seventh President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. ... 1969 (MCMLXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday For other uses, see Number 1969. ... 1974 (MCMLXXIV) is a common year starting on Tuesday (click on link for calendar). ... Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975). ... 1981 (MCMLXXXI) is a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1989 (MCMLXXXIX) is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States since 2001. ... 2001: A Space Odyssey. ... The Imperial Presidency is a term which has been used from the 1960s to describe the presidency of the United States and the Presidents aides. ... The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 is a U.S. federal law passed by the United States Congress specifying that the President may propose to Congress that funds be rescinded. ... The War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148) limits the power of the President of the United States to wage war without the approval of the Congress. ...


The Constitution empowers the House of Representatives to impeach federal officials (both executive and judicial) for "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." The Senate is constitutionally empowered to try all impeachments. A simple majority in the House is required to impeach an official; however, a two-thirds majority in the Senate is required for conviction. A convicted official is automatically removed from office; in addition, the Senate may stipulate that the defendant be banned from holding office in the future. Impeachment proceedings may not inflict more than this; however, the party may face criminal penalties in a normal court of law. In the history of the United States, the House of Representatives has impeached sixteen officials, of whom seven were convicted. (Another resigned before the Senate could complete the trial). Only two Presidents of the United States have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999. Both trials ended in acquittal; in Johnson's case, the Senate fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority required for conviction. Depiction of the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, then President of the United States, in 1868. ... A defendant is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute. ... Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875) was the sixteenth Vice President (1865) and the seventeenth President of the United States (1865–1869), succeeding to the presidency upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. ... 1868 was a leap year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... William Bill Jefferson Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe, III on August 19, 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. ... 1999 (MCMXCIX) is a common year starting on Friday, and was designated the International Year of Older Persons by the United Nations. ... In legal parlance, a trial is an event in which parties to a dispute present information (in the form of evidence) in a formal setting, usually a court, before a judge, jury, or other designated finder of fact, in order to achieve a resolution to their dispute. ... In criminal law, an acquittal is the legal result of a verdict of not guilty, or some similar end of the proceeding that terminates it with prejudice without a verdict of guilty being entered against the accused. ...


The Constitution entrusts certain powers to the Senate alone. The President may only appoint Cabinet officials, judges, and other high officers with the "advice and consent" of the Senate. The Senate confirms most presidential nominees, but rejections are not uncommon. Furthermore, treaties negotiated by the President must be ratified by a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate to take effect. The House of Representatives has no formal role in either the appointment of federal officials or the ratification of treaties. Cabinet meeting on May 16, 2001. ... An official (from the Latin Officialis, person – or object – related to an officium, see that article) is, in the primary sense, someone who holds an office (i. ... A judge or justice is an official who presides over a court. ...


The Constitution does not explicitly state that the courts may exercise judicial review (the power to strike down laws on the grounds of unconstitutionality). However, the notion that courts could declare laws unconstitutional was accepted by several delegates; for example, Alexander Hamilton mentioned and expounded the doctrine in Federalist No. 78. In 1803, the Supreme Court, established judicial review of Federal legislation in Marbury v. Madison; Marbury made the particular holding, however, that Congress could not grant unconstitutional power to the Court itself—the general power of judicial review was not exercised until the Dred Scott decision of 1857. Judicial review is the power of a court to review a law or an official act of a government employee or agent for constitutionality or for the violation of basic principles of justice. ... Constitutionality is the status of a law, procedure, or act being in accordance with the laws or guidelines contained in a constitution. ... A portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull, 1792. ... Alexander Hamilton, author of Federalist No. ... 1803 was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... Judicial review is the power of a court to review a law or an official act of a government employee or agent for constitutionality or for the violation of basic principles of justice. ... Holding Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 is unconstitutional to the extent it purports to enlarge the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court beyond that permitted by the Constitution. ... Holding Blacks, whether slaves or free, could not become United States citizens and the plaintiff therefore lacked the capacity to file a lawsuit. ... 1857 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ...


Legislative procedure

The House Financial Services committee meets. Committee members sit in the tiers of raised chairs, while those testifying and audience members sit below.
The House Financial Services committee meets. Committee members sit in the tiers of raised chairs, while those testifying and audience members sit below.

Image File history File links United States House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services. ... Image File history File links United States House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services. ...

Term

Under the Twentieth Amendment, congressional terms begin at noon on January 3 of every odd-numbered year. It is conventional to refer to each Congress by the ordinal number of its term. Thus, the current Congress (whose term lasts from 2005 to 2007) is known as the "109th Congress"; the previous Congress (whose term lasted from 2003 to 2005) was the "108th Congress," and so forth. Amendment XX (the Twentieth Amendment) of the United States Constitution, also called The Lame Duck Amendment, establishes some details of presidential succession and of the beginning and ending of the terms of elected federal officials. ... January 3 is the 3rd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 2005 (MMV) is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2007 (MMVII) is a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. ... It has been suggested that List of Current United States Senators be merged into this article or section. ... 2003 (MMIII) is a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2005 (MMV) is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The 108th United States Congress met from January 7, 2003, to January 3, 2005. ...


At the beginning of each new term, the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate (those who were chosen in the election the previous November) are sworn in. The oath taken is provided by statute: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God." The House of Representatives also elects a Speaker to preside over debates. The President pro tempore of the Senate, by contrast, holds office continuously; normally, a new President pro tempore is only elected if the previous one retires, or if there is a change in the majority party. An oath (from Saxon eoth) is either a promise or a statement of fact calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually a god, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. ...


A term of Congress is divided into two "sessions," one for each year; Congress has occasionally also been called into an extra, (or special) session. (The Constitution requires Congress to meet at least once each year.) A new session commences on January 3 (or another date, if Congress so chooses) each year. Before the Twentieth Amendment, Congress met from the first Monday in December to April or May in the first session of their term (the "long session"); and from December to March 4 in the second "short session". (The new Congress would then meet for some days, for the inauguration, swearing in new members, and organization.) January 3 is the 3rd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... The Twentieth Amendment may refer to the: Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution — establishes some details of presidential succession and of the beginning and ending of the terms of elected federal officials. ... March 4 is the 63rd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (64th in leap years). ...


The Constitution forbids either house from meeting any place outside the Capitol, or from adjourning for more than three days, without the consent of the other house. The provision was intended to prevent one house from thwarting legislative business simply by refusing to meet. To avoid obtaining consent during long recesses, the House or Senate may sometimes hold pro forma meetings, sometimes only minutes long, every three days. The consent of both bodies is required for Congress's final adjournment, or adjournment sine die, at the end of each congressional session. If the two houses cannot agree on a date, the Constitution permits the President to settle the dispute. Many companies report pro forma earnings, in addition to normal earnings calculated under the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), in their quarterly and yearly financial reports. ... Adjournment sine die (from the Latin, without day) occurs when an organized bodys existence terminates. ...


Joint sessions

Main article: Joint session of the U.S. Congress

Joint Sessions of the United States Congress occur on special occasions that require a concurrent resolution from both House and Senate. These sessions include the counting of electoral votes following a Presidential election and the President's State of the Union address. Other meetings of both House and Senate are called Joint Meetings of Congress, held after unanimous consent agreements to recess and meet. Meetings of Congress for Presidential Inaugurations may also be Joint Sessions, if both House and Senate are in session at the time, otherwise they are formal joint gatherings. Joint Sessions of the United States Congress are the gathering together of both House and Senate which occur on special occasions such as the State of the Union Address and Presidential Inauguration. ... The United States Electoral College is the electoral college which chooses the President and Vice President of the United States at the conclusion of each Presidential election. ... An inauguration is a ceremony of formal investiture whereby an individual assumes an office or position of authority or power. ...


At some time during the first two months of each session, the President customarily delivers the State of the Union Address, a speech in which he or she assesses the situation of the country and outlines his or her legislative proposals for the congressional session. The speech is modeled on the Speech from the Throne given by the British monarch, and is mandated by the Constitution of the United States. Thomas Jefferson discontinued the original practice of delivering the speech in person before both houses of Congress, deeming it too monarchical. Instead, Jefferson and his successors sent a written message to Congress each year. In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson reestablished the practice of personally attending to deliver the speech; few Presidents have deviated from this custom since. The State of the Union Address is an annual event in which the President of the United States reports on the status of the country, normally to a joint session of the U.S. Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate). ... A legislature is a governmental deliberative body with the power to adopt laws. ... Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands reads her countrys Speech from the Throne Queen Elizabeth II reads Canadas Speech from the Throne in 1977 The Speech from the Throne, sometimes referred to by the shorter term Throne Speech, is an event in certain monarchies in which the monarch (or... A monarch (see sovereign) is a type of ruler or head of state. ... Thomas Jefferson (April 13 (April 2 Old Style), 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), author of the United States Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founders of the United States. ... 1913 (MCMXIII) is a common year starting on Wednesday. ... Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was the 28th President of the United States (1913–1921). ...


Joint Sessions and Joint Meetings are traditionally presided over by the Speaker of the House. However, the Constitution requires the President of the Senate to preside over the counting of electoral votes.


Bills and resolutions

A proposal may be introduced in Congress as a bill, a joint resolution, a concurrent resolution, or a simple resolution. Most legislative proposals are introduced as bills, but some are introduced as joint resolutions. There is little practical difference between the two, except that joint resolutions may include preambles but bills may not. Joint resolutions are the normal method used to propose a constitutional amendment or to declare war. On the other hand, concurrent resolutions (passed by both houses) and simple resolutions (passed by only one house) do not have the force of law. Instead, they serve to express the opinion of Congress, or to regulate procedure. A bill is a proposed new law introduced within a legislature that has not been ratified or adopted. ... A joint resolution is a legislative measure of the United States of America, designated as S.J.Res (for the Senate version) and H.J.Res (for the House version), which requires the approval of both chambers of the United States Congress. ... In the United States a concurrent resolution is a legislative measure, designated S. Con. ... This article concerns the legal meaning of the term resolution. ... Aphorism Critical legal studies Jurisprudence Law (principle) Legal research Legal code Natural justice Natural law Philosophy of law Religious law External links Find more information on Law by searching one of Wikipedias sibling projects: Wikibooks Wikiversity has more about this subject: School of Law The Australian Institute of Comparative... A procedure is a series of activities, tasks, steps, decisions, calculations and other processes, that when undertaken in the sequence laid down produces the described result, product or outcome. ...


Members of Congress often introduce legislation at the behest of lobbyists. Lobbyists advocate the passage (or rejection) of bills affecting the interest of a particular group (such as a corporation or a labor union). In many cases, the lobbyists write legislation and submit it to a member for introduction. Congressional lobbyists are legally required to be registered in a central database, and are employed by political organizations, corporations, state governments, foreign governments, and numerous other groups. In 2005, there are almost 35,000 registered Congressional lobbyists, representing a doubling since 2000. Some of the most prominent lobbyists are ex-members of Congress, others are family members of sitting members. As an example, Dennis Hastert, Tom DeLay, and Roy Blunt all have immediate family members who are (or were) lobbyists. Lobbying is the practice of private advocacy with the goal of influencing a governing body, in order to ensure that an individuals or organizations point of view is represented in the government. ... A corporation is a legal entity (distinct from a natural person) that often has similar rights in law to those of a Civil law systems may refer to corporations as moral persons; they may also go by the name AS (anonymous society) or something similar, depending on language (see below). ... A union (labor union in American English; trade union, sometimes trades union, in British English; either labour union or trade union in Canadian English) is a legal entity consisting of employees or workers having a common interest, such as all the assembly workers for one employer, or all the workers... Legislation refers to the process of enacting statutory laws, or to the set of statutory laws in a state. ... A database is an organized collection of data. ... A political party is a political organization subscribing to a certain ideology or formed around very special issues. ... A corporation is a legal entity (distinct from a natural person) that often has similar rights in law to those of a Civil law systems may refer to corporations as moral persons; they may also go by the name AS (anonymous society) or something similar, depending on language (see below). ... A state government is the government of a subnational entity in nation-states with federal forms of government, which shares political power with the federal government or national government. ... 2005 (MMV) is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... This article is about the year 2000. ... Dennis Hastert John Dennis Hastert (born January 2, 1942), American politician, has been Speaker of the United States House of Representatives since 1999. ... Tom DeLay Thomas Dale DeLay (born April 8, 1947 in Laredo, Texas) is an American politician from Sugar Land, Texas and a prominent Republican. ... U.S. Representative Roy Blunt This article is about the Congressman. ...


Bills (and other proposals) may be introduced by any member of either house. However, the Constitution provides that: "All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." As a result, the Senate does not have the power to initiate bills imposing taxes. Furthermore, the House of Representatives holds that the Senate does not have the power to originate appropriation bills, or bills authorizing the expenditure of federal funds. Historically, the Senate has disputed the interpretation advocated by the House. However, whenever the Senate originates an appropriations bill, the House simply refuses to consider it, thereby settling the dispute in practice. Although it cannot originate revenue and appropriation bills, the Senate retains the power to amend or reject them. A tax is a compulsory charge or other levy imposed on an individual or a legal entity by a state or a functional equivalent of a state (e. ... An appropriation bill or supply bill is a legislative motion which authorizes the government to spend money. ... The word federal in a general sense refers to the nature of an agreement between or among two or more states, nations, or other groups to merge into a union in which control of common affairs is held by a central authority created by and with the consent of the... In business, revenue is the amount of money that a company actually receives from its activities, mostly from sales of products and/or services to customers. ...


Each bill goes through several stages in each house; the first stage involves consideration by a committee. Most legislation is considered by standing committees, each of which has jurisdiction over a particular subject matter, such as Agriculture or Appropriations. The House has twenty standing committees; the Senate has sixteen. In some cases, bills may be sent to select committees (which tend to have more narrow jurisdictions than standing committees. Each standing and select committee is led by a chairman (who belongs to the majority party) and a ranking member (who belongs to the minority party). Committees are permitted to hold hearings and collect evidence when considering bills. They may also amend the bill, but the full house holds the power to accept or reject committee amendments. After considering and debating a measure, the committee votes on whether it wishes to report the measure to the full house. A standing committee is a subunit of a political or deliberative body established in a permanent fashion to aid the parent assembly in accomplishing its duties, usually by provided focused attention on one particular subject matter. ... A select or special committee of the United States Congress is a Congressional committee appointed to perform a special function that is beyond the authority or capacity of a standing committee. ... A chairman is the presiding officer of a meeting, organization, committee, or other deliberative body. ... The Minority Party (Minoritetspartiet) is a political party in Denmark without parliamentary representation. ... Hearing is the following: Hearing is the sense by which sound is perceived. ...


A decision not to report a bill amounts to a rejection of the proposal. Both houses provide for procedures under which the committee can be bypassed or overruled, but they are rarely used. If reported by the committee, the bill reaches the floor of the full house. The house may debate and amend the bill; the precise procedures used by the House of Representatives and the Senate differ. A final vote on the bill follows.


Central party discipline is not as strong in Congress as it is in parliamentary systems, and in the Senate it is weaker than in the House. However, the leadership does have certain powers to sway reluctant legistators to vote with the party. Party leaders derive most of their powers from the ability to fundraise, to control the flow of legislation, and to assign desireable positions; a rebel Congressman may be threatened with a cutoff of funds for his/her campaign, a reduction of pork for his/her district, thwarting of his/her pet legislation, and/or denial of a future committee chairmanship. A parliamentary system, or parliamentarism, is distinguished by the executive branch of government being dependent on the direct or indirect support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. ... Pork barrel, in a literal sense, is a barrel in which pork is kept, but figuratively is a supply of money; often the source of ones livelihood. ...


The party leadership may use the "catch and release" strategy in order to ensure the passage of important legislation with the support of reluctant members. The leaders "catch" a member, pressuring him or her to vote in favor of the legislation even if it is unpopular in the member's constituency. Then, if the bill has sufficient support to pass anyway, the member may be "released," that is, permitted to vote as he or she pleases. Hence, members may avoid alienating influential special interest groups, while remaining loyal to the party. Catch and release, named after the fishing term catch and release, is a term used to describe a political strategy by which members of the United States Congress can affect an appearance of political independence. ... Legislation refers to the process of enacting statutory laws, or to the set of statutory laws in a state. ... A constituency is any cohesive corporate unit or body bound by shared structures, goals or loyalty. ... In the computer field, a Special Interest Group is a community with a particular interest in a specific technical area. ...


Once a bill is approved by one house, it is sent to the other, which may pass, reject, or amend it. In order for the bill to become law, both houses must agree to identical versions of the bill. If the second house amends the bill, then the differences between the two versions must be reconciled in a conference committee, an ad hoc committee that includes both senators and representatives. In many cases, conference committees have introduced substantial changes to bills and added unrequested spending, significantly departing from both the House and Senate versions. President Ronald Reagan once quipped, "If an orange and an apple went into conference consultations, it might come out a pear." If both houses agree to the version reported by the conference committee, the bill passes; otherwise, it fails. A conference committee in the United States Congress and bicamerial state legislature is a committee appointed by the members of the upper and lower house to resolve disagreements on a bill passed in different versions of each House. ... Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975). ...


After passage by both houses, a bill is submitted to the President. The President may choose to sign the bill, thereby making it law. The President may also choose to veto the bill, returning it to Congress with his or her objections. In such a case, the bill only becomes law if each house of Congress votes to override the veto with a two-thirds majority. Finally, the President may choose to take no action, neither signing nor vetoing the bill. In such a case, the Constitution states that the bill automatically becomes law after ten days (excluding Sundays). However, if Congress adjourns (ends a legislative session) during the ten day period, then the bill does not become law. Thus, the President may veto legislation passed at the end of a congressional session simply by ignoring it; the maneuver is known as a pocket veto, and cannot be overridden by the adjourned Congress. The President of the United States (unofficially abbreviated POTUS) is the head of state of the United States. ... The word veto comes from Latin and literally means I forbid. ... A pocket veto is a legislative maneuver in American federal lawmaking. ...


Every Act of Congress or joint resolution begins with an enacting formula or resolving formula stipulated by law. These are: An enacting formula is a short phrase that introduces the main provisions of a law enacted by some legislatures. ...

  • Act of Congress: "Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled."
  • Joint resolution: "Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled."

Quorum and voting

The Constitution specifies that a majority of members constitutes a quorum to do business in each house. The rules of each house provide that a quorum is assumed to be present unless a quorum call demonstrates the contrary. Representatives and senators rarely force the presence of a quorum by demanding quorum calls; thus, in most cases, debates continue even if a majority is not present. In law, a quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative body necessary to conduct the business of that group. ...


Both houses use voice voting to decide most matters; members shout out "aye" or "no," and the presiding officer announces the result. The Constitution, however, requires a recorded vote on the demand of one-fifth of the members present. If the result of the voice vote is unclear, or if the matter is controversial, a recorded vote usually ensues. The Senate uses roll call votes; a clerk calls out the names of all the senators, each senator stating "aye" or "no" when his or her name is announced. The House reserves roll call votes for the most formal matters; normally, members vote by electronic device. In the case of a tie, the motion in question fails. In the Senate, the Vice President may (if present) cast the tiebreaking vote. In the United States Congress, a recorded vote is a vote in which the names of those voting for and against a motion may be recorded. ... A roll call is the process of checking who is in attendance, usually by calling out and checking off their names. ...


Privileges

Under the Constitution, members of both houses enjoy the privilege of being free from arrest in all cases, except for treason, felony, and breach of the peace. This immunity applies to members "during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same." The term "arrest" has been interpreted broadly, and includes any detention or delay in the course of law enforcement, including court summons and subpoenas. The rules of the House very strictly guard this privilege; a member may not waive the privilege on his or her own, but must seek the permission of the whole house to do so. Senate rules, on the other hand, are less strict, and permit individual senators to waive the privilege as they see fit. A privilege—etymologically private law or law relating to a specific individual—is an honour, or permissive activity granted by another person or a government. ... The Chicago Police Department arrests a man A protester is arrested during a demonstration. ... In law, treason is the crime of disloyalty to ones nation. ... A felony, in many common law legal systems, is the term for a very serious crime; misdemeanors are considered to be less serious. ... Breach of the peace is a legal term used in constitutional law in English speaking countries, and in a wider public order sense in Britain. ... Immunity confers a status on a person or body that makes that person or body free from otherwise legal obligations such as, for example, liability for damages or punishment for criminal acts. ... For the band, see The Police. ... A summons is a legal document issued by a court addressed to a defendant in a legal proceeding. ...


The Constitution also guarantees absolute freedom of debate in both houses, providing, "for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place." Hence, a member of Congress may not be sued for slander because of remarks made in either house. However, each house has its own rules restricting offensive speeches, and may punish members who transgress them. In English and American law, and systems based on them, libel and slander are two forms of defamation (or defamation of character), which is the tort or delict of making a false statement of fact that injures someones reputation. ...


Obstructing the work of Congress is a crime under federal law, and is known as contempt of Congress. Each house of Congress has the power to cite individuals for contempt, but may not impose any punishment. Instead, after a house issues a contempt citation, the judicial system pursues the matter like a normal criminal case. If convicted in court, an individual found guilty of contempt of Congress may be imprisoned for up to one year. Federal law is the body of law created by the federal government of a nation. ... In the federal law of the United States, contempt of Congress is the crime of obstructing the work of U.S. Congress, with a punishment of up to one year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. ...


Another privilege is the use of the Library of Congress. The Library's primary mission is to serve the Congress and its staff. To do this, the Congressional Research Service provides detailed, up-to-date and non-partisan research for Senators, Representatives, and their staff to help them carry out their functions as national servants. Library of Congress, Jefferson building The Library of Congress is the unofficial national library of the United States. ... The Congressional Research Service is the public policy research arm of the United States Congress. ...


Member groups

The Congressional Black Caucus is an organization representing African American members of the Congress of the United States. ... An African American (also Afro-American, Black American, or simply black), is a member of an ethnic group in the United States whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Africa. ... // About the CHC The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) is comprised of 21 Members of Congress of Hispanic descent. ... Hispanic, as used in the United States, is one of several terms used to categorize US citizens, permanent residents and temporary immigrants, whose background hail either from the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America or relating to a Spanish-speaking culture. ... The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (founded in May, 1994) is a group in the United States Congress who represent Asian Pacific Americans. ... An Asian American is a person of Asian ancestry or origin who was born in or is an immigrant to the United States. ...

See also

This is a list page for the individual sessions of the United States Congress: // 18th Century First United States Congress (1789–1791) Second United States Congress (1791–1793) Third United States Congress (1793–1795) Fourth United States Congress (1795–1797) Fifth United States Congress (1797–1799) Sixth United States Congress... The United States House of Representatives has 435 voting members elected for two-year terms from each of the states. ... Each state elects two senators to the United States Senate. ... Library of Congress, Jefferson building The Library of Congress is the unofficial national library of the United States. ...

References

  • Baker, Ross K. (2000). House and Senate, 3rd ed. New York: W. W. Norton.
  • Berg-Andersson, Richard E. (2001). Explanation of the types of Sessions of Congress
  • Berman, Daniel M. (1964). In Congress Assembled: The Legislative Process in the National Government. London: The Macmillan Company.
  • Davidson, Roger H., and Walter J. Oleszek. (1998). Congress and Its Members, 6th ed. Washington DC: Congressional Quarterly.
  • Herrick, Rebekah. (2001). "Gender effects on job satisfaction in the House of Representatives." Women and Politics, 23 (4), 85–98.
  • Hunt, Richard. (1998). "Using the Records of Congress in the Classroom," OAH Magazine of History, 12 (Summer): 34–37.
  • Imbornoni, Ann-Marie, David Johnson, and Elissa Haney. (2005). "Famous Firsts by American Women." Infoplease.
  • Lee, Frances and Bruce Oppenheimer. (1999). Sizing Up the Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation. University of Chicago Press: Chicago.
  • Rimmerman, Craig A. (1990). "Teaching Legislative Politics and Policy Making." Political Science Teacher, 3 (Winter): 16–18.
  • Ritchie, Donald A. (1997). "What Makes a Successful Congressional Investigation." OAH Magazine of History, 11 (Spring): 6–8.
  • Story, Joseph. (1891). Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. (2 vols). Boston: Brown & Little.
  • Wilson, Woodrow. (1885). Congressional Government. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Some information in this article has been provided by the Senate Historical Office.

External links


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Congress of the United States - Academic Kids (4195 words)
The Congress of the United States is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States of America.
Congress is a bicameral legislature, consisting of the House of Representatives (the "Lower House") and the Senate (the "Upper House").
The first Congress under the current Constitution started its term in Federal Hall in New York City on March 4, 1789 and their first action was to declare that the new Constitution of the United States was in effect.
United States Congress - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (5557 words)
House seats are apportioned among the states by population.
The Vice President of the United States is ex officio the President of the Senate; he or she has no vote except in the case of a tie.
The speech is modeled on the Speech from the Throne given by the British monarch, and is mandated by the Constitution of the United States.
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