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  • Published on: 21st September 2019
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In the United States, the nations law making establishment, is the Congress. In the Constitution, Congress is set to make laws, that if passed, become the laws of the land. Congress is intended to be the voice of the people, and the representatives of the Congress must be at assistance for the citizens of the United States.

In 1789, the Congress was established by the constitution. The First Continental Congress was made of 12 colonies. “The Articles of Confederation in 1781 created the Congress of the Confederation, a unicameral body with equal representation among the states in which each state had a veto over most decisions. Congress had executive but not legislative authority, and the federal judiciary was confined to admiralty and lacked authority to collect taxes, regulate commerce, or enforce laws.” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Congress). The powers granted by the Constitution are the enumerated powers, and the expressed powers. Enumerated powers “exercise the powers that the Constitution grants it, subject to the individual rights listed in the Bill of Rights.” (https://www.google.com/search?q=enumerated+powers&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari). Expressed powers are “are those specifically named in the Constitution.” (https://www.google.com/search?q=expressed+powers&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari). An example of an enumerated power would be your taxes, whereas, an example of an expressed power would be to borrow money.

“Each state gets only one House member regardless of its population. Beyond that the states are given representation in the House of Representatives on the basis of their population. Within states congressional district boundary lines are drawn by the state legislatures. All House members are elected in single-member districts, the total number of which has been set by Congress at 435.” (https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/congress-united-states/). Some may know the House of Representatives as the “lower house”. Serving in the House of Representatives are 235 Republicans, 193 Democrats, and there are 7 vacant seats left open as of right now. In Article 1, Section 2,  of the Constitution reads that each representative must be at least 25 years old, must have been a citizen of the United States for the past 7 years, and they have to be an inhabitant of the state they represent. (https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/congress-united-states/)

The leadership of the House of Representatives, Republican Party, starts with the speaker, Paul Ryan. “Elected by the whole of the House of Representatives, the Speaker acts as leader of the House and combines several roles: the institutional role of presiding officer and administrative head of the House, the role of leader of the majority party in the House, and the representative role of an elected member of the House.” (https://www.house.gov/leadership). The Pro Speaker, who is the backup for when the Speaker isn’t able to make it, he/she plays “the primary roles assigned to the speaker pro is presiding over the House in the speaker's absence, exercising the powers and duties of the speaker in his or her absence, and assuming other duties as assigned by the speaker.” (http://www.ncsl.org/legislators-staff/legislators/legislative-leaders/leadership-positions-roles-and-responsibilities.aspx). The majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, who “represents the Republicans on the House floor.” (https://www.house.gov/leadership). The majority whip, Steve Scalise, who “assists leadership in managing party's legislative program.” (https://www.house.gov/leadership). The Republican Conference Chairman, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who “heads organization of all Republican Party members in the House.” (https://www.house.gov/leadership). Lastly, the Republican Party Committee Chairman, Luke Messer, who “heads Conference forum for policy development.” (https://www.house.gov/leadership).

The Democratic Leadership Party starts with the top leader, Nancy Pelosi, who “represents Democrats on the House floor.” (https://www.house.gov/leadership). The Democratic whip, Steny Hoyer, who “assists leadership in managing party's legislative program.” (https://www.house.gov/leadership). The Assistant Democratic Leader, James Clyburn, who “works with caucuses and as liaison to Appropriations Committee.” (https://www.house.gov/leadership). Lastly, The Democratic Caucus Leader, Joseph Crowley, who “heads organization of all Democratic Party members in the House.” (https://www.house.gov/leadership)

 The senate holds certain powers and obligations. Somevmay also know the senate as the “upper house”. The senate is made up of 100 total senators, two senators that represent each state, and the senators serve staggered six-year terms. Each state votes two senators no matter the population of the state they represent. A senator must be at least thirty years of age, must have been a citizen of the United States for nine years, and be a resident of the State from which they are chosen to serve. In Alabama, the senators representing are “Doug Jones (since 2018) and he’s is a Democrat, and Richard Shelby (since 1987) and he is a Republican.” (https://www.google.com/search  q=who+are+the+two+senators+in+alabama&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari).

“Both houses of Congress are organized into majority and minority political parties, each with its own leadership. The speaker has the selection of committee members and chairpersons, and can influence the scheduling and dispensation of legislation, the Speaker possesses substantial power. The majority party organization is provided by the majority leader and his or her assistants, along with specialized party committees. They are chosen by the majority party caucus, made up of all the party members in the House. Similarly, the minority party chooses a minority leader, party whips, and members of its own party committees.” (https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/congress-united-states/). I think that organizing the parties in both houses of Congress is a good idea so that one house or party does not get to much power. If one party had to much power it would not be fair to the people, and it would create a problem within the states.

In Congress, committees are formed to help build structure. Without the committees and subcommittees, Congress would result in having to much power, and wouldn’t disperse throughout. With the help of these committees Congress results in a very organized structure for all people to have a voice. “Congressional committees are organized along substantive policy lines. Both the House and the Senate have created committees concerned with agriculture, defense, housing, commerce, science and technology, education, government operations, international relations, judiciary affairs, and service veterans.” (https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/congress-united-states/)

“The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States.” (https://www.google.com/search?q=facts+about+congress&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari). Bicameral means having two branches or chambers. In this case our to branches are the House of Representatives and the Senate.

In Congress, there are 3 branches that make different laws and that focus on different strong points for the people. Those three branches are the legislative, judicial, and executive. “The US Congress is part of the Legislative Branch of Government which has the power to make the laws and has the power to pass, repeal, and amend laws as defined in Article I of the Constitution.” (http://www.government-and-constitution.org/united-states-government/us-congress-facts.htm). The judicial branch “interprets the meaning of laws, applies laws to individual cases, and decides if laws violate the Constitution.” (https://www.usa.gov/branches-of-government). The executive branch “carries out and enforces laws. It includes the president, vice president, the Cabinet, executive departments, independent agencies, and other boards, commissions, and committees.” (https://www.usa.gov/branches-of-government). These branches all hold different roles when contributing to Congress, they help disperse power throughout, and even though they are all separate they all stand independently. To pass a law you must go through the legislative process. The legislative process begins when a member of the legislative proposes a bill, whether it be a public bill or a private bill. “Public bills concern general questions of policy and become public laws if they are passed by Congress and signed by the president. Private bills are concerned with such individual matters as claims against the government or cases having to do with immigration and naturalization.” (https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/congress-united-states/). After you propose a bill, there must be a debate and a voting to get you bill established into a law. “The House and Senate meet separately in the same building, The Capitol in Washington, D.C. Each year, they consider more than 10,000 bills. Bills are proposals for new laws. Only about 650 of those bills ever become law.” (www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/congress-united-states/.). The  Supreme Court has the final decision in cases that have to do with Congress. If Congress were to pass every bill that was proposed our country would be hectic. Ten thousand bills sure is a a lot, and to only pass 650 has to be a hard task. Working together with 535 people to pass these bills and make them into laws, obviously has to come with lots of arguments, ups and downs, and disagreements.

Congress, of course, can not run without its staff. In Congress, there are a little over 10,000 staff members that help with anything from information services all the way to effectiveness of the government. Major agencies also partner with Congress if they need information that staff can not get. “The Congressional Research Service, provides wide-ranging research services for members and committees. The General Accounting Office supplies reviews of the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of government programs. The Office of Technology Assessment provides policy analysis in science and technology. Finally, the Congressional Budget Office, working with budget committees of both houses, furnishes fiscal and economic research.” (https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/congress-united-states/). With this size of a staff, Congress is sure to get almost anything and everything they need. Having all of the special “teams” for research, and the different government programs makes for a very powerful Congress. In this day in age, having all of the technology that we have makes it somewhat easy to find the information that Congress needs, and to see the public opinion. Public opinion is very important for Congress to see how the people react to what they do, or what bills they pass.

“Congress has the "power of the purse" and must approve all government spending and appropriate the amount of money to be spent, called Appropriation Bills.”

(http://www.government-and-constitution.org/united-states-government/us-congress-facts.htm). With these certain spending limitations, it is making the government financially smarter when thinking where our money goes. Even though the country’s debt is at an alarming number, the budget that the president has set is going to make it slow down and decrease. Setting a budget is going to help pay off our debt because we are not spending as much, therefore the people will eventually have a surplus. A surplus is “an amount of something left over when requirements have been met; an excess of production or supply over demand.” (https://www.google.com/search?q=surplus+definition&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari).

When Congress has to many tasks, they are more than likely to hand some over to the president. When Congress does this, it doesn’t mean that they are giving more power or authority to the president. Today, the president of the United States is Donald Trump. Trump was elected in 2016. For example, this year Congress gave the President the power to raise and lower tariffs. The president and Congress are always working together. The president is constantly sending bills or ideas for Congress to pass or look over. Congress has the power over the president to not pass a bill or to simply say “no” to the president. When the president proposes a bill, it is likely that it is what the people wanted or what’s best for the country, so Congress is more than likely to pass the bill.

The Congress meet in the United States Capitol in Washington D.C.. The Congress meets at least move every year, and there meeting is on the first Monday of December. “The capitol has a large dome in the center, above a rotunda, a large space that is shaped like a circle. There are two wings that are connected to the rotunda on opposite sides. The north wing is where the Senate meets and the south wing is where the House of Representatives meets. These wings are also called chambers. On the top floors of the chambers are galleries, or balconies where people can watch the Senate and House of Representatives from above.” (https://simple.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Capitol). When Congress was first established, they met in New York City in the Federal Hall. The Supreme Court also met in Federal Hall when they met in New York City. In 1935 the Supreme Court moves into their own building. The Capitol building cost a little more and two million dollars to build and it sits on 274 acres of land.

Congress obviously has a lot of formalities to function as a whole and govern the United States. From the research teams all the way to the Capitol, a lot of organization, time, and debate goes into making the Congress what it is today. Congress does a good job keeping the people of untitled states civil and happy. Keeping the people happy and keeping public opinion in good form makes the United States look good. Congressman have a very tough job and if you ever come across one thank them for representing you!

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