What Powers Does the Legislative Branch Have?
Legislative Branch. Home / Government / Legislative Branch. The Idaho Legislature is responsible for translating the public will into policy for the state, levying taxes, appropriating public funds, and overseeing the administration of state agencies. These responsibilities are carried out through the legislative process – laws passed by. The United States Congress is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Learn more about the powers of the Legislative Branch of the federal government of the United States.
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Aug 01, · The legislative branch has a number of roles. Its main role, however, is to make laws. For the national government of the United States, the legislative branch is the Congress. The executive branch of government is responsible for enforcing the laws of the United States. Learn more about the executive branch, its responsibilities, and the extent of its power. Legislative Branch Offices Closed Until Further Notice. The offices of the Osage Nation Congress are open with limited access for the public. Contact the Clerk of Congress at if you need anything. Staff and Congressional Members are available by phone or email.
The Constitution grants Congress the sole authority to enact legislation and declare war, the right to confirm or reject many Presidential appointments, and substantial investigative powers.
The House of Representatives is made up of elected members, divided among the 50 states in proportion to their total population. The presiding officer of the chamber is the Speaker of the House, elected by the Representatives. He or she is third in the line of succession to the Presidency.
Members of the House are elected every two years and must be 25 years of age, a U. The House has several powers assigned exclusively to it, including the power to initiate revenue bills, impeach federal officials, and elect the President in the case of an Electoral College tie.
The Senate is composed of Senators, 2 for each state. Until the ratification of the 17th Amendment in , Senators were chosen by state legislatures, not by popular vote.
Since then, they have been elected to six-year terms by the people of each state. Senators must be 30 years of age, U. The Vice President of the United States serves as President of the Senate and may cast the decisive vote in the event of a tie in the Senate. There are, however, two exceptions to this rule: the House must also approve appointments to the Vice Presidency and any treaty that involves foreign trade.
The Senate also tries impeachment cases for federal officials referred to it by the House. In order to pass legislation and send it to the President for his or her signature, both the House and the Senate must pass the same bill by majority vote.
If the President vetoes a bill, they may override his veto by passing the bill again in each chamber with at least two-thirds of each body voting in favor. The first step in the legislative process is the introduction of a bill to Congress.
Anyone can write it, but only members of Congress can introduce legislation. Some important bills are traditionally introduced at the request of the President, such as the annual federal budget. During the legislative process, however, the initial bill can undergo drastic changes. After being introduced, a bill is referred to the appropriate committee for review. There are 17 Senate committees, with 70 subcommittees, and 23 House committees, with subcommittees.
The committees are not set in stone, but change in number and form with each new Congress as required for the efficient consideration of legislation. Each committee oversees a specific policy area, and the subcommittees take on more specialized policy areas. A bill is first considered in a subcommittee, where it may be accepted, amended, or rejected entirely.
If the members of the subcommittee agree to move a bill forward, it is reported to the full committee, where the process is repeated again. Throughout this stage of the process, the committees and subcommittees call hearings to investigate the merits and flaws of the bill.
They invite experts, advocates, and opponents to appear before the committee and provide testimony, and can compel people to appear using subpoena power if necessary. If the full committee votes to approve the bill, it is reported to the floor of the House or Senate, and the majority party leadership decides when to place the bill on the calendar for consideration. If a bill is particularly pressing, it may be considered right away. Others may wait for months or never be scheduled at all.
When the bill comes up for consideration, the House has a very structured debate process. Each member who wishes to speak only has a few minutes, and the number and kind of amendments are usually limited. In the Senate, debate on most bills is unlimited — Senators may speak to issues other than the bill under consideration during their speeches, and any amendment can be introduced. Senators can use this to filibuster bills under consideration, a procedure by which a Senator delays a vote on a bill — and by extension its passage — by refusing to stand down.
A supermajority of 60 Senators can break a filibuster by invoking cloture, or the cession of debate on the bill, and forcing a vote. Once debate is over, the votes of a simple majority pass the bill. A bill must pass both houses of Congress before it goes to the President for consideration. Though the Constitution requires that the two bills have the exact same wording, this rarely happens in practice.
To bring the bills into alignment, a Conference Committee is convened, consisting of members from both chambers. The members of the committee produce a conference report, intended as the final version of the bill. Each chamber then votes again to approve the conference report. Depending on where the bill originated, the final text is then enrolled by either the Clerk of the House or the Secretary of the Senate, and presented to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate for their signatures.
The bill is then sent to the President. When receiving a bill from Congress, the President has several options. If the President agrees substantially with the bill, he or she may sign it into law, and the bill is then printed in the Statutes at Large. If the President believes the law to be bad policy, he or she may veto it and send it back to Congress. Congress may override the veto with a two-thirds vote of each chamber, at which point the bill becomes law and is printed.
There are two other options that the President may exercise. If Congress is in session and the President takes no action within 10 days, the bill becomes law. If Congress adjourns before 10 days are up and the President takes no action, then the bill dies and Congress may not vote to override. This is called a pocket veto, and if Congress still wants to pass the legislation, they must begin the entire process anew.
Congress, as one of the three coequal branches of government, is ascribed significant powers by the Constitution. All legislative power in the government is vested in Congress, meaning that it is the only part of the government that can make new laws or change existing laws. Executive Branch agencies issue regulations with the full force of law, but these are only under the authority of laws enacted by Congress.
The President may veto bills Congress passes, but Congress may also override a veto by a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Article I of the Constitution enumerates the powers of Congress and the specific areas in which it may legislate. To this end, Congress levies taxes and tariffs to provide funding for essential government services.
If enough money cannot be raised to fund the government, then Congress may also authorize borrowing to make up the difference. Both chambers of Congress have extensive investigative powers, and may compel the production of evidence or testimony toward whatever end they deem necessary.
Members of Congress spend much of their time holding hearings and investigations in committee. Refusal to cooperate with a congressional subpoena can result in charges of contempt of Congress, which could result in a prison term. The Senate maintains several powers to itself: It consents to the ratification of treaties by a two-thirds supermajority vote and confirms the appointments of the President by a majority vote.
The consent of the House of Representatives is also necessary for the ratification of trade agreements and the confirmation of the Vice President. One primary way that Congress conducts oversight is through hearings.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs are both devoted to overseeing and reforming government operations, and each committee conducts oversight in its policy area. Founded in as the General Accounting Office, its original mission was to audit the budgets and financial statements sent to Congress by the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Today, the GAO audits and generates reports on every aspect of the government, ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent with the effectiveness and efficiency that the American people deserve.
The Executive Branch also polices itself: Sixty-four Inspectors General, each responsible for a different agency, regularly audit and report on the agencies to which they are attached. We'll be in touch with the latest information on how President Biden and his administration are working for the American people, as well as ways you can get involved and help our country build back better.
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