The Law Makers Who Rule the Roost
The “People’s Branch”!
Yes, that’s what the legislative branch is also known as. However, people usually know very little about this branch, and don’t like it too well either. The reason being, it is the authority that rolls out the laws.
In simple terms, the Legislative Branch is responsible for creating and passing laws. For example, the United States Congress comprises two houses — the Senate and the House of Representatives, which play key roles in the Legislative Branch. Once the Legislative branch creates laws, those laws are enforced by the executive branch by implementing regulations and are taken forward further by the judicial branch through the Courts.
Facts About Legislative Branch:
1. The legislative branch is commonly known as the “Congress”. Among various authorities, it creates all the laws, regulates interstate/foreign businesses, controls taxing and spending policies, and even decides on war.
2. The various organizations under the legislative branch are Architect of the Capitol, Congressional Budget Office, Center for Legislative Archives, Government Accountability Office, Government Printing Office, National Archives and Records Administration, Library of Congress, Office of Compliance and U.S. Senate.
3. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution specifically mentions the authorities of the legislative branch. The Constitution provides Congress with the authority to enact legislation, the right to confirm or reject appointments of a presidential candidate, and also substantial investigative powers.
4. The first Congress in the legislative branch history took place in April 1789, which was later adjourned in September. In the following several decades, the sessions typically conducted for about six months. Most Congress members were allowed to spend almost half the year taking care of their private businesses and pursuing careers at home. They were actually part-time legislators, and could not make a living on their congressional pay alone.
5. During the World War II (in the early 1940s), sessions became significantly longer and lasted the entire year. From thereon, except for relatively peaceful years in the 1950s, the legislative branch kept meeting almost throughout the year. The session usually started in January and ended in November or December.
6. The House of Representatives in the U.S. consists of 435 elected members, who are spread across the 50 states in proportion to the total population. Besides, there are six non-voting members, who represent the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and four more territories of the U.S.
7. The Senate is formed with 100 Senators, two for each state. Until the confirmation of the 17th Amendment in 1913, state legislatures elected Senators instead of doing so by popular voting.
8. Election of the House members takes place in every two years. The members must be at least 25 years of age, an American citizen for a minimum of seven years, and live in the state they represent.
9. The legislative branch is the only branch that has power to make changes in the existing laws. Once the legislative branch creates a law, the President must sign the bill to enforce it.
10. The Vice President of the United States heads the Senate and has the authority to cast the decisive vote in the event of a tie in the Senate.
11. The legislative branch has the power to even override the president’s veto if both the houses take a unanimous decision. It also got the authority to initiate revenue bills and impeach federal officials.
12. The 49 states in the U.S. have a bicameral or two-house legislature. Nebraska is the only state that has a unicameral or one-house legislature.
13. The legislative process begins with the introduction of a bill to Congress. Only the members of Congress can introduce legislation.
14. According to the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 18, the legislative branch to remain flexible and keep up with the changing scenarios. Due to such flexibility, this clause is also known as the “elastic clause”.