Understanding the Structure of Congress

Understanding the Structure of Congress

(RepublicanReport.com) – The United States Constitution tasks the legislative branch with making laws, declaring war, confirming presidential appointees, and more. To ensure both fair and thorough lawmaking, the Framers of our founding document created a bicameral (meaning two-chamber) legislature, known as Congress.

Why Was Congress Separated Into Two Houses?

When outlining the first government of the United States, small states hoped for an equal voice when making federal laws. But, large states wanted voting power to be based on population size so they could wield more influence.

In the Connecticut Compromise of 1787, our Founding Fathers agreed to a two-house system that would force small and large states to work together. Out of this, the Senate and House of Representatives were formed.

How Does the Senate Work?

The Senate has two senators from each state, totaling 100 senators in all. The vice president is the president of the Senate and can break a tie if needed. This house gives each state an equal say in legislation.

The Senate can confirm presidential appointments, ratify treaties, and perform investigations, including impeachment trials. This is in addition to regular duties of passing bills that, if also passed by the House, go to the president to be signed into law.

What Does the House of Representatives Do?

The House of Representatives is composed of 435 members. Each state’s number of representatives is proportional to its population. Larger states get more power in this house.

The House’s exclusive powers include impeaching the president or federal officials, writing budget or revenue bills, and electing a president if the Electoral College results in a tie.

A Bicameral Legislature Ensures Compromise

Small and large states would rarely agree on legislation if there was no incentive. By requiring a law to be passed by both the equally-represented Senate and population-based House, the Framers of the Constitution ensured lawmakers would work together for everyone’s good.

This ensures no citizen or state is overpowered and that no law can be passed hastily without the majority approval of both houses.

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