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U.S. Congress

Legislative body

What is Congress?

What is Congress? 

It is the third co-equal branch of the U.S. government responsible for all legislative activities.  A bicameral body, meaning that both chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate, are equal partners in the creation and execution of legislative responsibility. Each house fulfills their role in government as outlined in the various Sections of Article I. Their roles and responsibilities are directed by the U.S. Constitution.  There are 435 members of the House of Representatives based on the population of the states and apportioned from the decennial census.  The Senate has 100 members, 2 from each state.  The Territories are represented by Delegates to Congress.

What is Congress' job?

Some of the responsibilities of Congress include:

  • Passing laws
  • Regulating commerce (trade)
  • Collect taxes, revenue
  • Borrow money
  • Pass the budget
  • Declare war
  • Establishing Post Offices
  • Punishing Pirates and other felons on the high seas
  • Approve Treaties (2/3 vote of the Senate needed)
  • Advise and Consent to Presidential Nominees (Senate only)
  • Censure, Expulsion
  • Filibuster and Cloture (Senate)
  • Initiate Impeachment proceeding against a government official(Senate)
  • Impeach government official (House)

The powers for Congress are defined in Article I of the U.S. Constitution.  To learn more about Congress, take time to visit with the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.