The Legislative BranchThe congress: Bi-cameral system(1)The House of Representatives• Considered the "House of the People."• Comprised of 435 Representatives. Selection process: 1-Representatives are proportionally selected according to population of each state. 2-Every state is constitutionally guaranteed at least one member of the House- regardless of the population. 3- Examples: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming – have only one representative. California alone has 52. 4-The Constitution provides for a national census each 10 years and a redistribution of House seats according to population shifts. Today the ratio of representatives to people is about 1-to-600,000.• Representatives:1-They serve two-year terms with no limit on the number of termsthey may serve, and all are elected at the same time.2- Each is elected from a defined geographic area within a state calleda Congressional District.3- They must be at least 25, citizens for seven years, and residents ofthe states from which they are elected.4-They elect a Speaker of the House, who is the leading officer of thechamber and is member of the majority party.• Vacancies in the House of Representatives are filled only by a specialelection or in a general election.Special powers and responsibilities of the House not shared with theSenate include:
1- The power to bring charges of impeachment against the Presidentand Supreme Court Justices.2- All bills for raising revenue must originate in the House.3- The House selects the President in cases where no presidentialcandidate receives a majority of electoral votes. In such cases, eachstate delegation has one vote.(2)The Senate• "Upper Chamber”• Comprised of 100 Senators. The selection process:1-Each state is entitled to two senators.2-example: Wyoming, with an estimated 480,000 persons, hasrepresentation equal to that of California, with its population of32,270,000.3- For election purposes, senators are divided into three classes; oneclass stands for election every two years. This ensures that there arealways experienced legislators serving in Congress. Senators:1- They serve six-year terms, with no limit on the number of terms theymay serve. The Constitution requires that U.S.2-they must be at least 30 years of age, citizens of the United States forat least nine years, and residents of the states from which they areelected.• Vacancies in the Senate are generally filled by appointment by thegovernor of the state where the vacancy exists.• The Vice President of the United States serves as the President of theSenate, voting only in cases of a tie.
•The Senate has several unique powers to itself differ from housewhich are:1- In cases of impeachment of the President or a member of theSupreme Court, the full Senate conducts the trial and acts as jury.2- The Senate must confirm presidential appointments to the SupremeCourt, lower federal courts, and key positions within the ExecutiveBranch before the appointees can take office.3-The Senate approves or rejects international treaties negotiated bythe President.The powers of the legislative Branch:Legislation must pass both houses before it is presented to thePresident to be signed into law.The broad powers of the whole Congress are spelled out in Article I ofthe Constitution: To levy and collect taxes;• To borrow money for the public treasury;• To make rules and regulations governing commerce among the statesand with foreign countries;• To make uniform rules for the naturalization of foreign citizens;• To coin money, state its value, and provide for the punishment ofcounterfeiters;• To set the standards 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 militia to enforce federal laws, suppress lawlessness,
or repel invasions;• To make all laws for the seat of government (Washington, D.C.);• To make all laws necessary to enforce the Constitution. Oversight of the Executive Branch:Congress may hold hearings to investigate the operations and actionsof the Executive Branch to ensure that it is carrying out the law withintegrity.Investigations are conducted to gather information on the need forfuture legislation, to test the effectiveness of laws already passed, toinquire into the qualifications and performance of members andofficials of the other branches, and, on rare occasions, to lay thegroundwork for impeachment proceedingsCongress has the power to publicize investigations and their results.Most committee hearings are open to the public and are widelyreported in the mass media. Congressional investigations thusrepresent one important tool available to lawmakers to inform thecitizenry and arouse public interest in national issues.