- The broad powers of the whole congress are spelled out in Article (1) of the constitution :
· To levy and collect taxes.
· To borrow money for the public treasury.
· To make rules and regulations governing commerce among the states and with foreign countries.
· To make uniform rules for the naturalization of foreign citizens
· To coin money, state its value and provide for the punishment of counterfeiters.
· To set the standers for weights and measures.
· To establish bankruptcy laws for the country as a whole
· To establish post offices and post roads.
· To issue patents and copyrights.
· To set up a system of federal courts.
· To punish piracy.
· To declare war.
· To raise and support armies.
· To provide for a navy
· To call out the military to enforce federal laws, suppress lawlessness or repel invasions.
· To make all laws for the seat of government.
· To make all laws necessary to enforce the constitution.
The House of Representatives :
1) Considered the " House of the People "
2) Consisted of 435 Representatives,distributed among the states according to population, regardless of its population , every state is constitutionally guaranteed at least one member of the House.At present ,seven states
" Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wymong " have only one representative. On the other hand, six states have more than 20 representatives. California alone has 52. the constitution provides for anational census each 10 years and redistribution of House seats according population shifts. Today the ration of representatives to people is about 1-to-600,000
3) All representatives serve two-year terms with no limit on the number of terms they may serve and all are elected at the same time.
4) Each Representative is elected from a defined geographic area within a state called a congressional district. Members of the House of Representatives must be at least 25. Citizens for seven years and residents of the states from which they are elected,
5) Vacancies in the House of Representatives are filled only by a special election or in a general election.
6- The members of the House elect a speaker of the House, who is the leading officer of the chamber and in practice is a member of the majority party.
1) Considered the '' Upper Chamber " it is considered more consultation than the House.
2) Comprised of 100 Senators ,each state two sentators .Thus,RohodeIsland ,the smallest state with an area of about 3,156 square kilometers, has the same senatorial representation as Alaska,the biggest state, with an area of about 1,524,640 square kilometers.
3) Senators serve six-year terms,with no limit on the number of terms they may serve. The Constitution requires that U.S senators must be at least 30 years of age, citizens of of the united states for at least nine years and residents of the states from which they are elected.
4) For election purpose, senators are divided into three classes, one class stands for election every two years. This ensures that there are always experienced legislators serving in Congress.
5) Vacancies in the senate are generally filled by appointment by the governor of the state where the vacancy exists.
6) The vice president of the United States serves as the president of the senate, voting only in cases of atie.
7) While sharing broad legislative powers with the house of Representatives, the senate has several unique powers to itself.
8) The senate must confirm presidential appointments to the Supreme Court, lower federal courts and key position within the Executive Branch before the appointees can take office.
9) The Senate approves or rejects international treaties negotiated by the president.
10) In case of impeachment of the president or a member of the Supreme court, the full Senate conducts the trial and acts as jury.
How a bill becomes law in the United States of America :
Each year, thousands of bills are introduced in Congress, but only a few hundred are passed into law. The following is a summary of how abill makes its way from draft to being signed into law by the president :
1) A bill is written, A senator or Representative may draft original legislation or trade association or private citizen may request that abill be prepared and may assist in its writing. Only aSenator or Representative can actually introduce a bill. Once written the author of the bill will seek co-sponsors from among his or her colleagues to add greater credibility to the initiative
2) The bill is introduced in the Senate or the House. It assigned anumber and its title and sponsors are published in the Congressional Record
3) The Parliamentarians of the House and Senate assign the bill to the committee with appropriate jurisdiction. The chair of the committee may then assign the bill to the most appropriate subcommittee, it is important to note that the committee and subcommittee chairs have a great deal of power over how a bill assigned to them is considered . if the chair opposes the legislation, he or she may simply not act on it .
4) The subcommittee may hold hearings on the bill and invite testimony from public and private witnesses. Many witnesses are Executive Branch officials, experts or affected parties from trade associations, labor unions, academia, public interest groups or the business community. Individuals may also make their views known by testifying, by providing a written statement or by allowing interest groups to represent their views.
5) Once the hearings are completed the subcommittee may meet to " mark up " the bill which is the process of proposing and considering amendments to the bill as a written , it then votes on whether to report the bill favorably to the full committee, if not favorably reported the bill dies .
6) The full committee may repeat any or all of the subcommittee¢s actions: hearings, markup and vote. If the committee votes favorably on the bill, it is ordered reported to either the full House of the Representatives or the full Senate, depending on which chamber is considering the bill.
7) when the bill reaches the floor of the House or Senate, the membership of the entire body may debate it, at this point the bill may be further amended , referred back to committee or voted on.
8) If the bill is passed by the House or Senate, it is referred to the other chamber. A House passed bill may be placed directly on the Senate Calendar, by passing the subcommittee and committee reviews.
9) If abill is passed in identical form by the House and Senate, it is delivered to the President. If there are differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, a conference committee is appointed by the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House to resolve the differences. If the conferences are unable to reach agreement, the legislation dies. If they do reach an agreement, the bill is sent back to both chambers, which must vote on them without further amendment.
* If both chambers approve the conference committee bill, it goes to the president for signature. The president has three options:
a) Sign the bill into law
b) Take no action; in this case the bill becomes law after ten days.
c) Veto the bill, if the president vetoes a bill, Congress may attempt to override the veto. This requires a two-thirds vote by both the House and Senate, if either fails to achieve a two-thirds majority in favor of the legislation, the bill dies , but if both succeed, the bill becomes law.