The Legislative Branch Article I of the Constitution establishes the powers of and limits on Congress.
The House of Representatives The Constitution establishes a bicameral, or two-house, legislature. The House of Representatives contains elected representatives from each state. The number of representatives in the House is based on the population of the state. Representatives are elected to a term of 2 years.
The House of Representatives The leader of the House is the Speaker of the House. The Speaker controls the schedule of the House. If something happens to the President and Vice-President, the Speaker of the House becomes the President.
The Senate Representation in the Senate is based on equal representation. Each state has two senators. Senators are elected to a 6 year term of service. Terms are staggered, so that 1/3 of the members of the Senate are up for election every two years. Originally, Senators were chosen by state legislatures.
The Senate The 17th Amendment calls for the people to elect Senators directly. The Vice-President of the United States is the president of the Senate, but he/she can not take part in Senate debates. In case of a tie vote in the Senate, the Vice-President is the tie-breaker.
Powers of Congress Congressional powers are described in the Constitution.
Powers of Congress The main function of the Congress is to propose, debate, and approve bills. Bills that are approved in Congress must be approved by the President before they can become a law. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution lists most of the powers granted to Congress.
Powers of Congress Among the powers granted to Congress are the powers to: tax coin money declare war Another clause in the Constitution gives the Congress the power to make laws that are “Necessary and proper”.
The Executive Branch Article II of the Constitution establishes the executive branch of the national government.
The Executive Branch The President, Vice President, and their cabinets are members of the executive branch. The President is the head of the Executive branch, and is responsible for carrying out the nation’s laws. The President can also suggest laws, and call special sessions of Congress.
The Executive Branch The president directs foreign policy, may make treaties with other countries, and may appoint ambassadors (representatives) to go to other nations. The President is also Commander in Chief, or the highest ranking officer, of the military.
The Executive Branch The President is elected to a term of four years, and the 22nd Amendment limits the President to two terms. Presidents are not elected directly by the people. Each state has electors, one for each member of the House and Senate, who are part of the Electoral College. The candidate who receives the majority of the popular vote receives all of the states electoral votes.
The Judicial Branch Article III of the Constitution establishes the Judicial branch.
The Judicial Branch The Constitution establishes the Supreme Court and any other courts that are needed to interpret the laws of the United States. Lower courts, or district courts, hear cases brought before them. If people disagree with the district court decision, they may appeal, or ask for the decision to be reviewed by a higher court.
The Judicial Branch The next court, the appellate court, may review the case and decide if the judge at the district court applied the law correctly. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeals in the judicial branch.
The Supreme Court Typically, the Supreme Court reviews less than 100 cases per year. The Supreme Court will decide appeals based on how they interpret the Constitution as it applies to the case. Laws passed by Congress or state legislatures that the Supreme Court rules against are usually declared unconstitutional.