The Legislative Branch

1 January 2017

The Legislative Process A. The first step in the legislative process is the introduction of a bill to Congress. B. A bill must pass through both houses of Congress before it goes to the President for consideration. III. Powers Of Congress A. All legislative powers in the government are controlled by Congress; making new laws or changing existing laws. B. The powers of Congress fall into three categories: special, implied, and expressed. Our Government: The Legislative Branch What is the Legislative Branch? Article I of the Constitution talks about the Legislative Branch.

The Legislative Branch is the branch of the federal and state governments empowered to make the laws that are the enforced by the executive branch and interpreted by the judicial branch. The Legislative Branch consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate which forms U. S. Congress. If a state’s population increases, that means the number of representatives increases also. There were 59 members at the first session of the House of Representatives. Today the House of Representatives consists of 435 members divided among the 50 states. Members of this house are elected every two years and must be at least 25 years of age.

Also they must be a U. S citizen for at least seven years. The House has quite a few powers such as initiating revenue bills, and electing the President in an electoral tie. Now the Senate consists of 100 senators, 2 for every state. To become a senator, you must be at least 30 years old, a U. S citizen for at least nine years, and resides in the state that you represent. Senators are elected to six year terms by the people. Only the Senate can approve or reject treaties and presidential nominations for government offices. Senators terms are spread over a period of time so about one third of the Senate is up for reelection every two years.

The vice president may cast the decisive vote in an event of a tie in the Senate because he serves as President of the Senate. In order to pass a law and send it to the President for his signature, the House of Representatives and the Senate must both agree on the law. If the President vetoes a law, they may overrule his veto by passing that law again in each chamber with at least two thirds of each body voting in favor. The Legislative Process The Legislative Process officially begins with a proposal in one of four forms: Bill, Joint Resolution, Concurrent Resolutions, and Simple Resolutions.

But bills are the most common so I’m going to talk about the bill. The first step in the legislative process is the introduction of a bill. Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate both come up with a bill for consideration by the Congress. The President, head of a Federal agency, or a member of a cabinet can also propose legislation. When a bill is introduced, the title of the bill goes in the House Journal and printed into the Congressional Record. The clerk assigns the bill a legislative number and the Speaker of the House assigns the bill to the appropriate committee.

Next, the bill is debated on the floor and then sent to the committee. Once the bill is revised, it is brought before the House of Representatives and Senate for consent again. The bill may be referred to a conference committee – committee composed of both the House and Senate – to settle differences in similar bills. Committee rejects the bills by not acting on them. The bill is then brought before both the House of Representatives and Senate for approval. Members of them both vote on the final version of the bill. If the bill is approved by the House and Senate, it is sent to the President.

When the President receives the bill, he may sign, veto, or pocket veto the bill. If he signs it, the bill becomes a law. If he vetoes it, it goes back to Congress for redrafting or Congress can override the veto with two-thirds majority vote in both chambers. If the President does not return the bill to Congress with his disagreements within 10 days or so, the bill can automatically become a law. If Congress adjourns before the 10 day period, the bill is vetoed. And if Congress wants to pass this legislation, they must begin an entire new process.

Once the bill is signed by the President, the laws are given public law numbers and copied in printed form as slip laws. These Public Laws are then bound into the Statues of Large. In each two-year session, thousands of bills come before Congress. Almost twelve thousand bills were introduced in Congress in one recent session. Less than five hundred were enacted into law. Powers of Congress Congress is the only part in the government that can make new laws or change existing ones. The President may veto bills Congress passes, but Congress may override a veto by two-thirds a vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Congress is also empowered to pass laws deemed “necessary and proper” for the carrying out of powers given to any part of the government. Powers granted to Congress fall into three categories: implied, expressed, and special. Implied Powers are powers not listed in the Constitution. They come from and depend on expressed powers of the government. The basis for implied powers comes from the necessary and proper clause of the Constitution, Article 1, Section 8. Another name for implied powers is called the elastic clause because it stretches the power of the government.

Implied powers have helped the government enhance its authority to meet the many problems and situations that the Framers unseen. Expressed Powers are those powers explicitly named in the Constitution. They grant the legislative branch a large amount of authority over American national policy, both domestic and foreign. The Constitution states that the Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, imposts, duties, excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all imposts, duties, and excises shall be uniformed throughout the United States (Brady).

There are a total of 27 expressed powers listed in the Constitution. Congress retains a number of special powers. It can act as a judicial body to impeach and try a president or other civil officer for misconduct. For example, the House of Representatives impeaches the official and Senate does a trial. Congress is also empowered to create and use administrative agencies and boards, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to determine facts and to enforce its legislative policies and enactments. Other than that, the Constitution vests each house of Congress with different powers as well.


Collins, Philip R. “Power of Congressional Committees of Investigation to Obtain Information from the Executive Branch: The Argument for the Legislative Branch.” Geo. lj 39 (1950): 563. Edin, Per-Anders, and Henry Ohlsson. “Political determinants of budget deficits: Coalition effects versus minority effects.” European Economic Review 35.8 (1991): 1597-1603. Evans, C. Lawrence. “Politics of Congressional Reform.” The Legislative Branch (2005): 490-524. Cohen, Julius. “Judicial Legisputation and the Dimensions of Legislative Meaning.” Ind. LJ 36 (1960): 414. De Haan, Jakob, Jan-Egbert Sturm, and Geert Beekhuis. “The weak government thesis: Some new evidence.” Public Choice 101.3 (1999): 163-176. Schickler, Eric. “Institutional Development of Congress.” The Legislative Branch (2005): 35-62.

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