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Constitution gave Congress the power of legislation. In fact, its major function is to make laws. Essentially, Congress converts public will into public policy by way of law. The Constitution provides some rules to which Congress must adhere throughout the legislative process however; over the years there have been additions and modifications to the procedure. Currently, there is debate over how to reform the legislative process.
The general legislative process is set forth in the Constitution. However, as with other aspects of government, the Framers purposely structured it in this manner so as to allow the American people an opportunity to fill in the details of the outline. One of the most important powers delegated to the House is the ability to raise revenue. The Constitution states that a bill must be approved in both chambers and then presented to the president. In the case of a presidential veto, Congress may override it with a two-thirds vote in each house. Additionally, the Constitution states that a bill not returned to Congress by the president within ten days is automatically enacted into law.
The current lawmaking process involves several steps, incorporating both Constitutional decrees in addition to subsequent modifications. It usually begins when a member of Congress presents a bill, which is essentially a proposal, to its respective chamber. There are public bills and private bills. The former are national or universal whereas the latter are sectional and particular. In both chambers, the bill then is read by clerks and recorded in a log. Next, it is referred to a standing committee then a subcommittee that studies, revises, and approves the bill. The subcommittee presents it to the full committee and the bill undergoes the same process of deliberation and revision. In the House, the Rules Committee establishes the rules under which the bill will be debated and amended on the floor. After passing through these steps, both chambers take floor action, which means that the bill is debated, amended, passed, or defeated. If it is passed, a conference committee of members from both houses convenes with the purpose of resolving discrepancies between the two versions of the bill. Then, it is submitted to its respective chamber for final approval. Finally, the president receives a copy of the bill, which he/she can either sign into law or veto. Should the president veto the bill, Congress can override his/her decision with a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers.
The two party system is important in today's legislative process, as it requires both sides to compromise throughout the whole procedure. In other words, in order to avoid a stalemate Republicans and Democrats alike must be willing to engage in the process of 'give and take'. Furthermore, political parties are important media through which legislation is organized. Most importantly, political parties can influence legislation as the most heavily represented party in Congress commands, to some degree, the legislature.
As already mentioned, proposals for legislative reform abound. Some believe that voting and budgeting procedures should be more open and fair than current practices. This includes allowing the public to view Congressional meetings. Others support a reduction in the number of committees in both chambers, which logically involves decreasing support staff. Naturally, taxes are a source of concern; many want to make it more difficult for Congress to increase taxes. Furthermore, some wish to impose term limits on Congressional members. Although there are numerous suggestions for legislative reform, only the future will reveal if such proposals are incorporated into the ever-evolving American system of government.
The presidential election process contains an important aspect that is commonly misunderstood by millions of Americans. When voting for a presidential candidate, citizens are actually choosing presidential electors who are collectively known as the Electoral College. The members of the Electoral College then cast their vote for the presidential candidate. It is this indirect voting system that determines the outcome of presidential elections.
In the hypothetical situation provided, candidate A, a Democrat, received 233 electoral votes, which is 43.3% of the total popular vote. Candidate B, a Republican, secured 272 electoral votes or 50.5% of the total popular vote. Finally, the Independent, candidate C, received 33 electoral votes, which translates into .06% of the cumulative popular vote. Based on these calculations, candidate B. won the election as he/she holds the majority of the electoral votes.
The concern over 'faithless electors' has probably existed since the inception of the Electoral College. An electors is supposed to vote for his party's candidate. Therefore, a 'faithless elector' is one who votes for another party's candidate. This usually occurs when an elector knows that his/her vote will not affect the outcome of the election; he/she typically does it to make a statement. The 'faithless elector' may choose a candidate that reflects his/her choice rather than his/her party's selection. The truth is that 'faithless electors' have never altered the results of a presidential election.
In the unlikely event during a presidential election a candidate does not secure a majority of the electoral votes -- at least 270, the House of Representatives selects the president from the top three contenders. During this process each state casts one vote and a winner must secure at least 26 votes. Regulations stipulate that each state's vote is given to the candidate favored by a majority of the state's House delegation. Should a draw arise within a delegation, that state's vote is dismissed. Furthermore, if the House fails to choose a president by the twentieth of January, the newly elected vice president acts as the interim president until the House is able to resolve the issue. If no candidate acquires the majority vote for vice president, the Senate chooses between the top two contenders. A majority vote of the entire Senate is required to elect a vice president.
There is concern over the Electoral College system. Some recognize the possibility that a contender who did not win the popular vote can still be elected president. This can occur if three or more candidates secure equal amounts of votes so that none obtains a majority of them. Secondly, if a candidate acquires a concentrated number of votes in a few states while his/her opponent wins a popular lead in the other states thereby securing the majority of the electoral votes, the latter emerges as the winner. Finally, it is conceivable that a third candidate can acquire enough minority support in such a way as to make it impossible for the other two candidates to secure a majority vote.
To summarize then, the presidential election process is oftentimes a misunderstood one due to its complexity. Needless to say there are fierce debates over this same procedure. Both opponents and proponents are quick to highlight its faults and merits. Despite this controversial process, it appears as though the United States will adhere to it until a compromise between the two factions emerges. However, as with other aspects of public concern, this may in fact be a long time coming.
America has a dual court system, which means that there exist courts at both federal and state levels. As with many other government aspects, Article III of the U.S. Constitution provides an outline of the powers of national courts. In fact, it did not even require the formation of lower courts. Those matters not expressly given to the federal courts are naturally left to the state judiciary systems.
Under Article III of the Constitution, the Supreme Court was created. The decision that this court renders is final. This constitutional provision also states that Congress may create lower courts as it sees fit. Judges of all courts are expected to perform their duties in an honest manner. In order to ensure an equitable court system, the Framers stated that compensation cannot be dependent upon a judge's decisions. Article III also outlines cases under which federal courts have jurisdiction; they are discussed below.
The lower federal courts, in other words all those except the Supreme Court, have gradually emerged as a result of political, economic, or ideological evolution. During the late 1700s through the middle of the 19th century, the main concerns were slavery and the authority of the federal government. From mid-1800s to the 1930s, the relationship between the economy and government was a focal point in America. In other words, courts diminished the supremacy of the federal government while increasing economic freedom. Most recently, economic freedom has been curtailed while personal liberties have been expanded.
Today's U.S. court system is hierarchal with the Supreme Court at its head. State Supreme Courts, United States Courts of Appeals, and a Court of Military Appeals fall next in line in the federal court system. Additional federal courts include U.S. regulatory commissions, United States District Courts, a Claims Court, Tax Court, and a Court of International Trade and they stand two tiers below that of the Supreme Court. State court systems resemble the federal structure. Appeals courts are at the top of the hierarchy. In…[continue]
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