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Legislative Branch. 1. Congress. Every two years all of the members of the House of Representatives and 1/3 of the Senators are elected. This two year period between elections is called a “Congress.”. 2. Sessions. Two sessions per term/Congress Begin in January

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1 congress
1. Congress
  • Every two years all of the members of the House of Representatives and 1/3 of the Senators are elected.
  • This two year period between elections is called a “Congress.”
2 sessions
2. Sessions
  • Two sessions per term/Congress
  • Begin in January
  • Joint Session: House of Representatives and the Senate meet together.
  • Special Session: The President may call a special joint session of Congress even if they have adjourned (ended) for the year.
3 parties democrats and republicans
3. Parties (Democrats and Republicans)
  • The political party that has the most members in each house is known as the majority party.
  • The political party that has fewer members is called the minority party.
4 bicameral
4. Bicameral

Two Houses

Senate and the House of Representatives

  • Two house system allows each house to ‘check’ the actions of the other and helps prevent Congress from passing laws in a hurry.
why a bicameral legislature
Why a Bicameral Legislature?
  • “Great Compromise”, also known as “Connecticut Compromise”.
  • Allowed small states to have equal say as the large states (Senate)
  • Allowed large states to have more of a voice due to their population (House)
5 house of representatives
5. House of Representatives


  • The number of Representatives each state can elect is based on the size of that state’s population.
  • Each state has at least 1 Representative.
  • 435 total Representatives.
  • Every 10 years, after the census is taken, Congress determines how the seats in the House are to be apportioned, or distributed.
daniel webster r winter garden 10 th congressional district in florida
Daniel Webster: (R) Winter Garden10th Congressional District in Florida.

10th District Map

6 requirements to be a representative
6. Requirements to be a Representative
  • Representatives must be:
  • At least 25 years old
  • A U.S. citizen for at least 7 years
  • A legal resident of the state they represent
  • Serve 2 terms
  • Elections are held in November of each even-numbered year.
  • Defined: The practice of drawing district lines that favor a particular political party, politician, or group of people.
  • “Leaving the Fox in charge of the hen house.”
  • Gerrymandering based solely on race has been ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, under the Fourteenth Amendment first by Shaw v. Reno (1993) and by subsequent cases, including Miller v. Johnson (1995) and Hunt v. Cromartie (1999).

Illinois 4th District

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D)

not gerrymandering
Not Gerrymandering.

Georgia 5th Congressional District


Florida 5th District

Rep. Corrine Brown (D)

not gerrymandering1
Not Gerrymandering.

Colorado 5th Congressional District

Massachusetts 5th Congressional District

7 leader
7. Leader

Speaker of the House

  • Elected from the majority party.
  • Presiding officer of the house.
  • No representative may speak until called on, or recognized, by the Speaker.
  • Second in line of Presidential Succession.
8 special powers of the house of representatives
8. Special Powers of the House of Representatives

Powers that only the House of Representatives has:

  • Begin impeachment proceedings
  • Initiate bills to raise money (appropriation bills)
  • Select president when no candidate receives sufficient electoral votes
9 senate
9. Senate


  • Each state is represented equally.
  • 2 members per state.
  • 100 senators total.
  • Members are called senators.
10 requirements to be a senator
10. Requirements to be a Senator

Senators must be:

  • At least 30 years old.
  • A U.S. Citizen for at least 9 years.
  • A legal resident of the state they represent.
  • Serve 6 year terms
  • One third (1/3) of the Senate’s membership comes up for election every two years in November.
11 senate leaders
11. Senate Leaders

Vice President

  • According to the Constitution presides over the Senate.
  • Only votes to break a tie.

President Pro Tempore

  • Fills in for the Vice President when necessary. Third in line of presidential succession. Customarily the most senior senator in the majority party
12 senate powers
12. Senate Powers

Powers that only the Senate has:

  • Hold impeachment trials.
  • Select the vice president when no candidate has sufficient votes.
  • Approve treaties.
  • Approve high officials. (Cabinet Members, Supreme Court Justices, and Ambassadors).
13 congressional misconduct
13. Congressional Misconduct

Senators and Representatives sometimes get in trouble. Depending on what they did, they may be punished one of two ways:

Censure or Expulsion.

section ii
Section II

Powers of Congress

strict vs liberal construction
Strict vs. Liberal Construction

Strict Constructionists

  • Strict constructionists argued that Congress should only be able to exercise (1) its expressed powers and (2) those implied powers absolutely necessary to carry out those expressed powers.

Liberal Constructionists

  • Liberal constructionists favored a liberal interpretation of the Constitution, a broad interpretation of the powers given to Congress.(wanted to allow for more implied powers to national government).

Thomas Jefferson was a strict constructionist

Alexander Hamilton was a liberal constructionist

1 overview
1. Overview

Congress obtains its powers from three different sources of law:

  • Expressed Powers
  • Implied Powers
  • Inherent Powers
1 expressed powers
1. Expressed Powers

Expressed Powers:

Powers provided to Congress by The Constitution.

Article: ???

Article 1, Section 8.

2 implied powers
2. Implied Powers

“To make all laws necessary and proper to the execution of any of the other powers”,

Article 1, Section 18.

This phrase is known by two terms:

1) The Necessary and Proper Clause

2) The Elastic Clause

2 implied powers1
2. Implied Powers

These exist because the Framers knew they could not anticipate everything which the Congress might need to do to carry out the duties of the Expressed Powers.


Creating a National Bank (Federal Reserve)

Selective Service (Draft)

Minimum Wage

3 inherent powers
3. Inherent Powers

These exist because they are normal duties which are inherent to a sovereign nation.


Immigration Controls

Securing the Borders