The AmericanCongress is one of the three arms of the American Government. The other arms ofthe Government include the Executive headed by the American President who iselected on a four-year term that is eligible for the re-election. The third armis the Judiciary that adjudicates the policy process as well as interprets the USAConstitution. The US Congress that is the core of the legislative arm of theAmerican Government has a long history tracing back to over 200 years since theestablishment of the USA.
The revolution of the 1776 gave the American s an opportunity toprovide the legal framework that would steer them to their management of theirpublic affairs. It traces to the 13 North American States that were colonies ofthe British who after intense effort had managed to declare their independencein the famous Declaration of Independence that followed the birth of the USA in 1776.
The USA constitution was a document that was written basing on the colonial experience that they hadunder the British since the discovery of America and the establishment of theplantation agriculture in the 16th century. After frantic efforts,the 13 colonies went ahead to have a unilateral declaration of theirindependence from Britain. Today, the USA is the model of an ideal democraticoutlook of the modern times. The USA Constitution for which legalizes thepresence of the Congress has become the model of the modern democracy. It haswithstood the test of time in all countries of the world. In brief, the USA isthe leading political force all over the world today. The influence of the USAis felt everywhere. Indeed, the USA signifies the world power that can not beunderestimated. Its powers go even beyond the mandate of the United Nations. Aclear example of this is the Congress decision in the USA in 2003 to endorsethe forceful eviction of the former Iraq President the Late Saddam Hussein. Thecase of Noriega in Panama in 1988 when he was evicted from the office contraryto the UN’s security council’s decision clearly demonstrates how powerful the USAcan and is politically, militarily as well as economically.
In addition, the USA constitution has turned out to be unique. Ithas formed the basis of the constitutional processes all over the world. Oneinteresting fact about this document has been its ability to withstand the testof time. It is the document that has received very few Amendments. This isideal for the African countries that seek to make post-colonial states. The USAconstitution was also made on the premise of the English practice that hasexisted for many years. In fact, the USA to date enjoys the cordial and warmrelationship with the English and great Britain on the European front. TheFrench Philosophy of human liberalism had a great effect on the AmericanConstitution. The adoption of the latter document in the year 1781 sounded ofgreat significance to the USA. Today, the document was heavily borrowed fromduring the UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 in Geneva.
Structure of the USAcongress
The USA congressis the core operational form of the Legislative arm of the Government of theUnited States of America. The Congress works with staff of individual membersand congressional committees that is the expertise for its own library,research service and accounting, budget and technology, assessment offices. Itis assumed to be the supreme organ of the USA Government. This is basing on itspowers to enact the law, control commerce and taxation and declaring war. Thismakes the congress supreme.
The USA congress is bicameral. That means the congress is divided into two chambers that is theSenate and the House of the Representatives. This is a tradition that wasborrowed from the British Parliamentary practice but was more contextual. Inthe American case, the two chambers were arrived at during the Assembly dupedthe Federal Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.
The senateacknowledges the equality of all states. The USA consists of 50 states thatonce they join they cannot secede. For that, each state has two representativesamounting to 100 of them. The senators are elected for a six-year term. Onceelected they are divided into three classes that are equal. The senators mustbe 30 years of age and one must be a US citizen for a period of not less thannine years and a resident of the state that elects him/her.
The Senate has apresident who is the USA Vice President meaning that the VP serves in thecapacity like that of the Speaker of the National Assembly in many countries.The VP has no vote but is entitled to vote incase there is a tie in the matterbeing voted for. Each senator is also entitled to one vote. In cases ofresignation or death of a sitting senator, the State’s Governor calls for anelection to fill the vacancy.
The House of the Representatives.
This House solvesthe inequalities in resource mobilization as well as distribution, which isbased on the population of each state. In fact, he establishment of this Houseis what helped the USA to stand at the verge of its collapse during theConstitutional process. The house was established on the rationale that somestates like Virginia are very large as compared to smaller states like the Ohio therefore equal representation would be unfair to the respective states.
Members of theHouse of Representatives are elected every two years. People allowed to votefor Representatives to the State Legislature are also allowed to vote forNational Representatives. Eligible members need to be 25 years of age; theymust have been the USA citizens for a period not less than 6 years and must bea resident of the very State that one needs to represent. Therefore theappointment to the House is pegged on the population of each state. Today forinstance, each House Representative serves 470,000 people.
Duties of the USA congress
- It collects taxes and duties to pay the debts, pay the military, and to help the people. All federal taxes and duties must be uniform throughout the land.
- Borrow money on credit of the USA.
- To regulate commerce with foreign nations and among other several states and with the Indian tribes
- Regulate international trade and interstate trade.
- Establish naturalization policies, establish uniform laws regarding bankruptcies
- Control minting of money and its value, regulate the value of foreign money, set up uniform standards for weights and measures, decide the punishment for counterfeiters, grant patents and copyrights to promote free enterprise among authors and inventors.
- Declare war.
- Raise and support an army and navy and make rules to govern the armed forces.
- Make laws concerning the property belonging to the national government.
- The elastic clause. This clause gives authority to the congress to make operational, through laws, the powers already granted.
- It approves key presidential appointments. These include secretaries who head ministries referred to as departments including the State, Defence Agriculture, and Education among others.
Rules of thecongress
- The congress is required to meet at least once a year. The opening dates for the Congress are 3rd of January following the 20th amendment.
- The Congress judges its own members. It may refuse to seat an elected member and especially in cases of disputed election.
- For the quorum to be established, there needs to be a half of the total members both houses plus one of the majority. However, business may continue unless a member notifies that there is no quorum. In the absence of the quorum, the business may be adjourned till the next day.
Law making in the congress.
All the laws madein the congress must be approved by the President for them to become Law. TheConstitutional process ends with the Presidential Assent. If the presidentrejects a Bill, it can be sent it back to the originating House with hisobjections. The Senate and the House then reconsider the bill. If each Houseoverrides the president’s veto by two thirds majority, then the bill becomesthe law. If the president ignores the bill for ten days since it was presentedto him excluding Sundays after it is presented, then it shall become a lawautomatically.
All these lawswhich are necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powersand all other powers vested by the constitution.
Impeachments by the Congress
This is thebringing of the accused official to trial upon a charge of wrong doing. So farin the American history, only President Andrew Johnson has been impeached, andhe was charged as innocent. In this case, it is the House of Representativesthat make the charges. The Senate then conducts the trial. If the President isaccused, the Chief Justice not the Vice president presides over. A two-thirdsvote of those present is required for an impeached official to be declaredguilty. An impeached person declared guilty can be punished by the senate onlyby removal from office and being barred from future offices. He can later betried in a regular court and punished like anybody else.