As the Congressmen elected in the November 3 elections have taken their responsibilities, all eyes are upon them to watch their performance. Congress is considered as one of the most important and powerful branches in running the affairs of the USA so the powers of Congress are also more than other branches.
Congress has representation from every state of the country, so its members exercise some unique powers which are not given to any other branch of the country’s government.
From passing bills of national interests to raising revenues, from approving presidential appointments to declaring war on any country, Congressmen and Senators have a voice in numerous affairs.
A Congressional mandate is given to the legislative branch by Article 1, the longest article in the Constitution, that describes the powers of Congress in detail.
Let’s look at what powers this wing of the government may exercise in the next two years.
One of the most important powers of Congress is the legislative powers. All legislative powers in the USA are vested in Congress.
It means that Congress has a monopoly in making laws, and no other branch can make laws. While the White House can make requests for any specific law, Congress is under no obligation to respond to any such request.
The purse of the USA: A distinct power of Congress:
Congress has the power of the purse given to it by the Constitution. Almost all the financial matters come under the Congressional mandate. These powers of Congress are more relevant to the House of Representatives, which can tax people and use their money to fund various federal agencies.
Power of raising revenue:
According to Article 1, Section 7 of the US Constitution, Congress can pass any bill to raise revenue by any constitutional means. If Congress passes any such bill, it goes to the president for final approval, who can either pass it or reject it.
The president cannot declare war on any nation without the approval of Congress. If Congress decides that the USA cannot afford to go to war with another nation, it can vote against it, and war will not be initiated.
For example, Thomas Jefferson’s request to initiate a military offensive against Spain amid the Florida border crisis was not entertained by Congress.
Congress also raises funds and maintains the military. They can also make the rules for the military.
Power of Congress to regulate commerce:
Congress has the authority to borrow money from other nations for the United States. They can also regulate commerce with other countries as well as among the states.
If Congress finds any loophole in the country’s Constitution, they can initiate the process of a Constitutional amendment. These powers of Congress help it make new laws after amending the Constitution according to the needs of the time.
Impeachment of Federal officials:
Congress can impeach federal officials if they are found breaching the Constitution in any way. These officials include the president, vice president, Federal officials, including secretaries, judges, and all civil officers, subject to being included in treason, bribery, or other high crimes.
This power of Congress is also effective in the doctrine of checks and balances, which is an integral part of the country’s government structure. Donald Trump’s impeachment recently is one of the classic examples in this regard, where the House of Representatives impeached the president while the Senate has to convict him.
Approving presidential appointments:
If the president wants to appoint an official to one of the important offices of the country, he will have to approach Congress for approval of those appointments.
This may include the appointment of the cabinet secretaries and the Supreme Court judges. If Congress rejects them, they cannot serve the country. Without a congressional mandate, the president cannot even appoint the ambassadors.
Congress is that branch of the government which goes to election most frequently. The lower House is elected every two years, and this is the reason they are closest to the people.
Due to this accountability, they are given special powers by the Constitution. Also, the legislative branch is made up of 435 elected Representatives and 100 Senators, so the chances of improved decisions after healthy debates increases.
The authority of Congress has been modified numerous times under different Constitutional amendments, and the powers of Congress have been increased over time.
This results in the better enactment of laws by the legislative branch, which is one of the core reasons for the success of any country.