United States Congresses - Overview

Overview

Article I of the Constitution states "all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives." The House and Senate are equal partners in the legislative process—legislation cannot be enacted without the consent of both chambers. However, the Constitution grants each chamber some unique powers. The Senate ratifies treaties and approves presidential appointments while the House initiates revenue-raising bills. The House initiates impeachment cases, while the Senate decides impeachment cases. A two-thirds vote of the Senate is required before an impeached person can be forcibly removed from office.

The term Congress can also refer to a particular meeting of the legislature. A Congress covers two years; the current one, the 112th Congress, began on January 3, 2011, and would end on January 3, 2013. The Congress starts and ends on each third day of January by every two years of the odd number. Members of the Senate are referred to as senators; members of the House of Representatives are referred to as representatives, congressmen, or congresswomen.

Scholar and representative Lee H. Hamilton asserted that the "historic mission of Congress has been to maintain freedom" and insisted it was a "driving force in American government" and a "remarkably resilient institution." Congress is the "heart and soul of our democracy", according to this view, even though legislators rarely achieve the prestige or name recognition of presidents or Supreme Court justices; one wrote that "legislators remain ghosts in America's historical imagination". One analyst argues that it is not a solely reactive institution but has played an active role in shaping government policy and is extraordinarily sensitive to public pressure. Several academics described Congress:

United States
This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the United States
Federal government
  • Constitution
  • Taxation
Legislature
  • Congress
    • House
      • Speaker
      • Party leaders
      • Congressional districts
    • Senate
      • President pro tempore
      • Party leaders
Executive
  • President
  • Vice President
  • Cabinet
  • Federal agencies
Judiciary
  • Federal courts
    • Supreme Court
    • Courts of Appeals
    • District Courts
Elections
  • Presidential elections
  • Midterm elections
  • Off-year elections
Political parties
  • Democratic
  • Republican
  • Third parties
Federalism
  • State government
    • Governors
    • Legislatures (List)
    • State courts
  • Local government
  • Other countries
  • Atlas

Politics portal

Congress reflects us in all our strengths and all our weaknesses. It reflects our regional idiosyncrasies, our ethnic, religious, and racial diversity, our multitude of professions, and our shadings of opinion on everything from the value of war to the war over values. Congress is the government's most representative body ... Congress is essentially charged with reconciling our many points of view on the great public policy issues of the day. —

Congress is constantly changing, constantly in flux. In recent times, the American south and west have gained House seats according to demographic changes recorded by the census and includes more minorities and women although both groups are still underrepresented, according to one view. While power balances among the different parts of government continue to change, the internal structure of Congress is important to understand along with its interactions with so-called intermediary institutions such as political parties, civic associations, interest groups, and the mass media.

The Congress of the United States serves two distinct purposes that overlap: local representation to the federal government of a congressional district by representatives and a state's at-large representation to the federal government by senators.

Read more about this topic:  United States Congresses

Other articles related to "overview":

International Union Of Pure And Applied Chemistry - Publications - Series of Books On Analytical and Physical Chemistry of Environmental Systems
... Chemistry of Fractal Structures and Processes in Environmental Systems is meant to give an overview of a technique based on fractal geometry and the ... It also gives an overview of the knowledge needed to solve environmental problems ... The book gives an overview of chemical mechanisms, transport, kinetics, and interactions that occur in environmental systems ...
Kewanee, Illinois - Schools - Overview
... There are also other schools in Kewanee like Visitation Catholic School home of the Giants, and a community college, Black Hawk College ... Black Hawk College-East Campus is recognized nationally for its equestrian program, as well as livestock judging teams ...
Golden Brown - Overview
... The single was a hit around the world, scaling the Top 10 as far away as Australia ... Its commercial success was probably the single factor that secured The Stranglers their continuing life in pop mainstream for the remainder of the 1980s ...
United States Presidential Election, 1992 - Nominations - Democratic Party Nomination - Overview
... U.S ... Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa) ran as a populist liberal with labor union support ...
Unified Modeling Language - Topics - Diagrams Overview - Interaction Diagrams
... Interaction overview diagram provides an overview in which the nodes represent communication diagrams ... Communication diagram Interaction overview diagram Sequence diagram The Protocol State Machine is a sub-variant of the State Machine ...