Congress under the ConstitutionCongress’s primary function is lawmaking.Other important functions of Congress are to:•represent the views of constituents•be of service to constituents in dealings with the national government•provide oversight of the actions of the president and his or her administration
Lawmaking•authority to make the laws necessary to carry out the national government’s powers•Fragmented nature of Congress places some limits on its role•Fragmentation can also be a policymaking strength–Ability to deal with many narrow problems simultaneously, but not broad ones
RepresentationThis function has been debated since the nation’s founding–Representation of states and districts: focus on the local–Representation of the nation through parties: focus on the big issues
Oversight •Seeing that the executive branch carries out the laws faithfully–Done primarily through the committee system–Demanding task that can’t be managed adequately•Congressional interest in oversight increases substantially when the White House is the target•Executive branch officials are required to testify when called by Congress to do so–Executive branch may withhold confidential information that affects national security by invoking executive privilege
Bicameralism•Bicameralismis defined as having two legislative chambers. •The U.S. Constitution designed a bicameral national legislature: a Congress composed of two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives. •The bicameral system requires two houses to pass identical bills, or proposed items of legislation. This ensures that after all amending and modifying has occurred, the two houses ultimately reach an agreement about the legislation they send to the president.
The 116th CongressHouse of RepresentativesSenateTotal Number of Members435100Number of Members per State1 or more, based on population2Length of Term of Office2 years6 yearsMinimum Age Requirement2530
Apportionment•Congressional apportionment–achieved through the equal proportions method,–uses a mathematical formula to allocate seats based on US Census population data, gathered every ten years as required by the Constitution.–Applies only to House of representatives
Powers Granted to Congress•Enumerated power - explicitly stated in the Constitution.•Implied power - not specifically detailed in the Constitution but inferred as necessary to achieve the objectives of the national government.