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  • Created on: 11-05-14 08:46
Preview of Congress

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What is the structure of Congress?
It is bicameral, which means there is two houses. The Senate is
made up of 100 Senators, two from each state, regardless of the
state's population. Each Senator serves 6 years before coming up
for re election, and 1/3 of the Senate is up for election at one
time. The House of Representatives, meanwhile, is much larger,
as each member represents a district, and the number of districts
is based on the population of the state (eg California has 53,
Wyoming has 1). There is currently 435 Representatives who all
serve two years before being up for re election again.
What are the powers of Congress?
· Initiate money bills- deciding how people's money is going
to be spent. This is because they were originally the only
house that was directly elected, so the Founding Fathers
found it fair that should have a say in how to spend it.
· Impeaching a President or Judge. This is when the House
feels the President or a Judge has not done their job
properly, and votes to impeach them. The case then goes to
the Senate for them to decide.
· Elect a President. In the event that the Electoral College is
gridlocked, and cannot decide on a President, they must
decide on a President. However, this power is very rarely
used, being used only twice, once in 1800 and once in 1824.
· Confirm appointments made by the President. They have the
power to confirm or reject the nomination made by the
President within the executive branch or the judicial branch.
For example, Obama's new cabinet members in 2009 and
2013 had to be confirmed. The last time a Supreme Court
nominee was rejected was 1987, where Reagan's Robert Bork
was rejected for his right wing views.
· Ratify treaties. They must approve any treaties made by the
President, to confirm that the details are correct and that it
mayu be beneficial in the future. As such, the President will
let the Senate know of the negotiations to ensure that they
will approve it. For example, Carter's Panama Canal Treaty
was approved by the Senate.

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Impeachment. The Senate tries the cases of impeachment,
once the House has accused them. They act as the jury in
cases of impeachment. For example, Bill Clinton was
acquitted by the Senate in 1999.
· Elect a Vice President. As with the House being able to elect
a President, the Senate is able to elect a Vice President if the
Electoral College cannot. Used twice, once in 1800 and once
in 1824.…read more

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Senate is much more likely to
be place the President looks to when filling their Cabinet. Finally,
the Senate is full of ex Representatives, not the other way around.
How is power distributed in Congress?
Much of the power is decentralised within Congress, mostly with
the committees, who decide how to proceed with Bills.…read more

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How are laws made?
The Bill goes through both houses at the same time. The first
reading is different in both Houses, but it is mostly just a
formality. In the House, it is placed on the Clerk's desk and then
circulated to the correct Committee. In the Senate, its name read
out before being sent to a Committee.…read more

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House, as they are up re
election every two years.
· Personal views. Especially on moral issues, such as same sex
marriage, the member may go with how they feel personally
about a certain issue.
· Party stance. Although the Party's influence is not as strong
as it is in the UK, how the party views an issue is important,
such as abortion, gun control and healthcare- a Republican is
unlikely to vote in favour of these issues.
· Pressure groups.…read more

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Checking the Executive. There are some limits on this power,
such as congressional committees being controlled by the
same party as the President, which means that they are
unlikely to provide proper oversight, due to loyalty and
unity. Further, on the other side of this, if the government is
divided then congressional committees may attempt to
discredit the President rather then check him, like the
Democrats did to Bush in 2007-2008.…read more


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