The Power And Significance Of Congress

1838 words - 7 pages

The Power and Significance of Congress

Firstly it is important to look at the power and significance of
congress as a legislative body. This includes the creation of law, and
the scrutiny of the executive. Because the US federal system is ruled
by 'separation of powers', it is important that the legislative -
congress - acts as a good check and restraint on the executive - the

The most significant power that congress has is to create and pass
legislation. Most of the creation is down to congressional committees
- specialist groups of congressman who revise and investigate laws
into their own committee's interests, for example The House Science
Committee. Some of the legislation can come from the president
directly, however it is congress that filter's it, so in theory the
president's proposed bill could never be heard in either house.
Constitutional ammendments also work in this way, a president can
suggest them, but only congress can initiate them.

During the process of a bill becoming a law, congress plays a huge
part. Both houses have the first reading, committee stage, the time
tabling, the second and third reading before it heads to a conference
committee. This reconcile's the differences between the House and the
Senate versions of the bill. If the bill passes through these stages,
only then can the president have his say, and the actions he can take
are to sign it, leave it on his desk or veto it. However, the
constitution gives the power to both houses to overturn the
presidential veto with a two-thirds majority in both houses. So if a
bill was hugely popular and got the two-thirds in both houses after
being veto'd, it would be a bill without the presidents consent. This
is a huge power, if congress can make law basically without
president's approval then it's significance is huge. This is also a
major constraint on presidential power if there are united houses,
because the president would find it hard to pass law, and counter laws
that he didn't want.

The House has a few exclusive powers that the Senate does not. The
House is the only one of the two that can initiate money bills. The
president himself nor EXOP can do such a thing. This offers the House
of Representatives a large scope of power in financial issues abroad
and domestically. Impeachment is also another power possessed by the
House. If a president or a member of the federal government has been
acting illegally or unconstitutionally the House can impeach -
formally accuse - them of it. This is then trialed in the Senate, but
offers the House a lot of power over the president, and helps congress
with it's scrutiny of the executive.

The Senate also has a few exclusive powers that are strong in the
right circumstances. The senate confirms appointments by a simple
majority to most...

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