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Default content 1.4 The Congress










“All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.” --- Article-1 of the constitution of United States.

The American Congress is a bicameral legislature, as the constitution calls on two houses to perform legislative activates. The upper house is called Senate, while the lower house is called House of Representatives respectively. The framers of Constitution intended to make the Congress more powerful organ of government than the Presidency. However, in the 19th centaury it became least popular body. But by the cause of time the matters improved and the Congress regained its popularity. It is now considered as the Bulwark of “free democracy” by many scholars.

The subsequent history and evolution of the congress has proved that the bicameral structure was a wise step by the founding fathers. The bicameral system operated without any remarkable restrains throughout the history. Although some times dead lock between the Senate and House of Representatives were created, yet no one advocated for the abolition of either house. Especially the House of Representatives never pursued to eradicate Senate from the constitution, as posed as wall against many of its bills. At the end of the day, the House of Representative had to accept the approvals and refusals of the Senate. Indeed, the Senate has become the more important chamber than the House of Representatives. The Congress today is not what the founding fathers intended it to be and nor has it become what the feared it would be.

The congress has legislative powers; which are limited by the veto-power of the President and by the Supreme Court’s power of Judicial Review. The congress has also a great hand in the development of the constitution. It is its own master. It convenes and adjourns its session without any interference from the Executive (the President). However it does not have similar control over the Executive as the legislature in Parliament system has.

To further understand the Congress let us study the Senate and the House of Representatives.



The Senate is the upper chamber or upper house in the American legislature known as Congress. It consists of 100 members on the basis of parity or equal representation of all the 50 States. Each State elects 2 Senators irrespective of its size and population. Initially the Senators were elected by indirect method through State legislatures. This method was provided by the Constitution, but the 17th amendment empowered people of each State to directly elect 2 senators from their respective States.


The term of Each Senator is 6 years. One-third of the members retire after every 2 years. It is a permanent body and cannot be dissolved by any authority. The Senators who retire after the end of their terms are eligible for re-election. If a Senate seat is vacant by resignation, death or any other reason, the governor of the concerned State is empowered to nominate the successor to the vacant seat until the next Senate elections. The vacant seats cannot be terminated.


The majority of members present in the Senate can vote to exclude senator on the basis of disorderly behavior or for some other grave reason. The voting requires at least two-third majority to remove the Senator.

Fifteen members have been expelled in the history of the Senate; 14 of them were removed in 1861 and 1862 for supporting the Confederate secession, which led to the American Civil War. No senator has been expelled since.

Under the 14th Amendment, any federal or state officer who takes the requisite oath to support the Constitution, but later engages in rebellion or aids the enemies of the United States, is disqualified from becoming a senator.


According to the Article-1, Section-3 of the constitution a senator must be:

1. Not less than 30 years of age
2. A citizen of US for 9 years
3. An inhabitant of the State from which he is elected


The Article-1 of the constitution states that each state may elect two senators. The Constitution further stipulates that no constitutional amendment may deprive a state of its equal suffrage in the Senate without the consent of the state concerned. Originally the constitution provided for indirect method for the election of the senators, meaning; senators would be elected by the respective legislature of the States. However, with the passage of time, this method showed plenty of defects. E.g. there were frequent deadlocks among the members of State Legislature which mostly resulted in senatorial seats lying vacant for quite a long time. Cases of bribery and virtual purchase of seats also surfaced. In 1913, the Congress adopted the 17th Amendment in constitution, which gave liberal orientation to the Senate. The 17th Amendment introduced direct-popular Senatorial-elections. It called upon people of States to elect their 2 Senators respectively.

Senators serve for terms of six years each; the terms are staggered so that approximately one-third of the Senate seats are up for election every two years. The staggering of the terms is arranged such that both seats from a given state are never contested in the same general election.

The Seventeenth Amendment also provides that vacancies in the Senate, however they arise, may be filled by special elections. A special election for a Senate seat need not be held immediately after the vacancy arises; instead, it is typically conducted at the same time as the next biennial congressional election. If a special election for one seat happens to coincide with a general election for the State’s other seat, then the two elections are not combined, but are instead contested separately. A senator elected in a special election serves until the original six-year term expires, and not for a full term of his own. Furthermore, the Seventeenth Amendment provides that any state legislature may empower the Governor to temporarily fill vacancies. The interim appointee remains in office until the special election can be held. All states, with the sole exception of Arizona, have passed laws authorizing the Governor to make temporary appointments.


As said before, the Vice-President of the United States is the Ex-Officio Chairman of the Senate. He presides over the meetings of the Senate but does not cast his vote unless there is a tie. He cannot appoint the committees of the Senate nor can he control the States through his powers of recognition. The constitution has limited the powers of Vice-President in Senate as he is not an elected member of the Senate and only acts as a watchdog or a mouthpiece, performing duties such as announcing the results of votes.

Incase of the absence of the Vice-President, the presiding authority is handed over to the President pro-tempore (Latin for “temporary President). Unlike the Vice-President, the President pro-tempore is elected from the Senators. But he plays no active role in the deliberation of the House. He is the nominee of the majority party in the Senate. He can vote on all issues and can participate in its debates. Incase the vice-President becomes the President, the President Pro-Tempore takes permanent place as the Chairman of the Senate.

The Senate is also served by several officials who are not members. The Senate's chief administrative officer is the Secretary of the Senate, who maintains public records, disburses salaries, monitors the acquisition of stationery and supplies, and oversees clerks. The Secretary is aided in his work by the Assistant Secretary of the Senate. Another official is the Sergeant-at-Arms, who, as the Senate's chief law enforcement officer, maintains order and security on the Senate premises. The Capitol Police handles routine police work, with the Sergeant-at-Arms primarily responsible for general oversight. Other employees include the Chaplain and Pages.


Senate procedure depends not only on the rules, but also on a variety of customs and traditions. In many cases, the Senate waives some of its stricter rules by unanimous consent. Unanimous consent agreements are typically negotiated beforehand by party leaders. Any senator may block such an agreement, but, in practice, objections are rare. The presiding officer enforces the rules of the Senate, and may warn members who deviate from them. The presiding officer often uses the gavel of the Senate to maintain order.

The Constitution provides that a majority of the Senate constitutes a quorum to do business. Under the rules and customs of the Senate, a quorum is always assumed to be present unless a quorum call explicitly demonstrates otherwise. Any senator may request a quorum call by "suggesting the absence of a quorum"; a clerk then calls the roll of the Senate and notes which members are present. In practice, senators almost always request quorum calls not to establish the presence of a quorum, but to temporarily delay proceedings. Such a delay may serve one of many purposes; often, it allows Senate leaders to negotiate compromises off the floor. Once the need for a delay has ended, any senator may request unanimous consent to rescind the Quorum Call.

During debates, senators may only speak if called upon by the presiding officer. The presiding officer is, however, required to recognize the first senator who rises to speak. Thus, the presiding officer has little control over the course of debate. Customarily, the Majority Leader and Minority Leader are accorded priority during debates, even if another senator rises first. All speeches must be addressed to the presiding officer, using the words "Mr. President" or "Madam President." Only the presiding officer may be directly addressed in speeches; other Members must be referred to in the third person. In most cases, senators do not refer to each other by name, but by state, using forms such as "the senior senator from Virginia" or "the junior senator from California."

The rules of the Senate provide that no senator may make more than two speeches on a motion or bill on the same legislative day. (A legislative day begins when the Senate convenes and ends with adjournment; hence, it does not necessarily coincide with the calendar day.) The length of these speeches is not limited by the rules; thus, in most cases, senators may speak for as long as they please. Often, the Senate adopts unanimous consent agreements imposing time limits. In other cases (for example, for the Budget process), limits are imposed by statute. In general, however, the right to unlimited debate is preserved.

When debate concludes, the motion in question is put to a vote. In many cases, the Senate votes by voice vote; the presiding officer puts the question, and Members respond either "Aye" (in favor of the motion) or "No" (against the motion). The presiding officer then announces the result of the voice vote. Any senator, however, may challenge the presiding officer's assessment and request a recorded vote. The request may be granted only if it is seconded by one-fifth of the senators present. In practice, however, senators second requests for recorded votes as a matter of courtesy. When a recorded vote is held, the clerk calls the roll of the Senate in alphabetical order; each senator responds when his or her name is called. Senators who miss the roll call may still cast a vote as long as the recorded vote remains open. The vote is closed at the discretion of the presiding officer, but must remain open for a minimum of 15 minutes. If the vote is tied, the Vice President, if present, is entitled to a tie-breaking vote. If the Vice President is not present, the motion fails.

On occasion, the Senate may go into what is called a secret, or closed session. During a closed session, the chamber doors are closed, and the galleries are completely cleared of anyone not sworn to secrecy, not instructed in the rules of the closed session, or not essential to the session. Closed sessions are quite rare, and usually held only under very certain circumstances where the senate is discussing sensitive subject-matter such as information critical to national security, private communications from the President, or even to discuss Senate deliberations during impeachment trials. Any Senator may call a closed session as long as the motion is seconded by at least one other member.

Budget bills are governed under a special rule process called "Reconciliation". Under Reconciliation, the senator’s right to speak for unlimited duration is abrogated. Reconciliation was devised in 1974 but came into use in the early 1980s.


The most significant aspect of the Senate is its committees, each of which performs a particular function; for which it was constituted. The committees; gathers facts, examine witnesses, set a date for public hearings in the bill, study in details all the views and prepare the reports and legislative drafts on which the House finally acts.

The important committees are based on; finance, appropriation, foreign relations, judiciary and inner-State commerce. All the issues before the senate are referred to the relevant committee for option and advice. An individual senator may be a member of more than two committees simultaneously.

There are four types of committees:


There are 16 Standing Committees; which are permanent. They have fixed membership and deal with particular subject. Each standing committee has jurisdiction over a specific field such as Finance or Foreign Relations. Each standing committee may consider, amend, and report bills that fall under its jurisdiction. Furthermore, each standing committee considers presidential nominations to offices related to its jurisdiction. (For instance, the Judiciary Committee considers nominees for judgeships, and the Foreign Relations Committee considers nominees for positions in the Department of State.) Committees have extensive powers with regard to bills and nominees; they may block nominees and impede bills from reaching the floor of the Senate. Finally, standing committees also oversee the departments and agencies of the executive branch. In discharging their duties, standing committees have the power to hold hearings and to subpoena witnesses and evidence.


The joint committees include members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. They have been created for the purpose of exercising supervisory control over atomic energy, budgeting, congressional operations and literacy. Some joint committees oversee independent government bodies; for instance, the Joint Committee on the Library oversees the Library of Congress. Other joint committees serve to make advisory reports; for example, there exists a Joint Committee on Taxation. Bills and nominees are not referred to joint committees. Hence, the power of joint committees is considerably lower than those of standing committees.


They are created occasionally to make some specific investigation with restricted jurisdiction. The select committees are also known as special committees. The examples of select committees include; Select Committee on Ethics and the Special Committee on Aging. Legislation is referred to some of these committees, though the bulk of legislative work is performed by the standing committees. Committees may be established on an ad hoc basis for specific purposes; for instance, the Senate Watergate Committee was a special committee created to investigate the Watergate scandal. Such temporary committees cease to exist after fulfilling their tasks.


Like joint committees, they also consist of members from both Houses of Congress. They are established to make compromises between two chambers in the case of conflict on a particular matter.

Each Senate committee and subcommittee is led by a chairman (always a member of the majority party). Formerly, committee chairmanship was determined purely by seniority; as a result, several elderly senators continued to serve as chairmen despite severe physical infirmity or even senility. Now, committee chairmen are in theory elected, but in practice, seniority is very rarely bypassed. The chairman's powers are extensive; he controls the committee's agenda, and may prevent the committee from approving a bill or presidential nomination. Modern committee chairmen are typically not forceful in exerting their influence, although there have been some exceptions. The second-highest member, the spokesperson on the committee for the minority party, is known in most cases as the Ranking Member. In the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Select Committee on Ethics, however, the senior minority member is known as the Vice Chairman.


The senate enjoys extensive legislative, financial, executive, judicial and miscellaneous powers. These may be discussed as followed:


The Senate enjoys equal and coordinate legislative authority with the House of Representatives. Ordinary bills may be initiated by either House, but the money bill is only passed by the House of Representatives. But this privilege of the House of Representative is not much of significance because of Senates vast powers of amending. The senate may strike out every thing except for the title of a money-bill. The senate can also even substitute an entirely new bill and may send the same back to the House. However, the legislative history of US Congress shows that the Senate enjoys predominant position over the lower-house.


The framers of the constitution wished the Senate to be a sort of advisory council for the President is discharge of his executive functions. Since, initially, it was a body of 26 members from 13 States; it could perform the job advisory board. But since its growth in size it has also gained tremendous number of powers. By the constitutional doctrine of Checks & Balances it has gained some Executive Powers as well, in order to check the President’s authority. All appointments made by the Senate are subject to the consent and advice of the senate. All the treaties made by the Senate are subject to the ratification of Senate.


All treaties are negotiated and concluded in the name of the President, but all international treaties are subject to ratification by two-third majority of the Senate. The foreign-affairs committee enjoys a considerable influence over the foreign policy of US. It is therefore that the President keeps himself in close touch with this committee and regularly acquaints it with the latest developments in foreign policy.


As said before that all appointments made by President are subject to the approval of Senate. This includes the appointment of Supreme Court Judges. In addition, the Senate it self performs as a court for impeachment of the President, Vice-President and other high ranking officials of US. The charges are to be referred by the House of Representatives and the impeachment is to be conducted by the Senate. The senate turns into regular judicial tribunal when it sits as a court. Prosecution is conducted by the committee of members of House of Representatives especially appoint for this purpose. The proceedings of impeachment are heard by the committee of judiciary of the Senate, which is than presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.


a. The senate shares with the house of representatives the power to propose amendments to the constitution

b. The senate decides Vice-Presidential election when no candidate gets an absolute majority of votes in the elections and elects the one out of the two candidates securing the highest votes.

c. The senate appoints committees to investigate and report on the administration of the federal government. The committees expose scandals and inefficiency of the administration, if any. These committees are politically very vigorous. This way the senators dominate the politics of the country. The administration is generally afraid of the senatorial committees. Thus the senate exercises an effective control over the administration through these committees.

The multiplicity of powers of senate has proved beyond any doubt that it is not only the more powerful than the House of Representative but also the most powerful Senate/Second Chamber in the whole world.

(NOTE: the following part is very importent, as it answers on whole question of "American Senate is the most powerful Second Chamber/Upper House in the world. Discuss" ---- togather with the above information you would be able to provide a relevent answer.)



The American Senate is the only legislative body in the world which enjoys some direct executive powers. It shares with the president the powers to make appointment of top-ranking officials and through this it controls the internal administration of the federal government. No treaties or agreements, concluded by the State-Department or President, are valid until ratified by the Senate. Through this power the Senate controls the foreign policy of the country. In addition, the Senate has powers to impeach the President, Vice-President and other high ranking officials. It should be noted that these powers are exclusively exercised by the Senate. This raises the prestige of and dignity of the Senate.


In countries with parliamentary form of government, the lower house attains a higher status than the upper house. In many countries the lower house has control over the executive; i.e. In England & Pakistan. In US, however, the position is reverse. It is the Upper House or Senate which has sufficient control over the executive as well as over the Lower House or the House of Representatives. However; the Lower House in US is completely devoid of such power. The constitution has made the Senate a coordinate chamber to the House of Representatives in the legislative matters, while in parliamentary form of system, the lower house has more power in legislative matters.


The membership of the Senate is small but its tenure is longer than the House of Representatives. On the other hand the membership of the House of Representatives is large but the tenure is short. The Senate consists of 100 members and its members are elected for a term of 6 years. While the membership of the House Representatives is 437 but it is only elected for 2 years term. Because of this fact, the Senators are not worried about their re-election after every two years. By staying longer on the legislative seat, the Senate also acquires greater experience, more credibility and exerts greater influence than the House of Representatives. By staying longer, the Senate can also fulfill its long term policies and programs. It is because of these reasons that the House of Representatives is forced to concur with the Senate in order to expedite business.


Senior politicians and men with legislative experience with wider knowledge of public affairs, usually opt for the membership of the Senate, because of its longer term and greater prestige than the House of Representatives. The result is that the Senate becomes superior to the House of Representatives in terms of ineffectual quality, legal talents, intellect and political wisdom. The media gives greater coverage to the Senatorial speeches and sessions than to the House of Representatives. The public attention is more focused on Senate as well.

In other countries the Senators may be men of legislative experience with wider knowledge of public affairs, but the fact that their Senate it self is not Superior to their Lower House diminishes their prestige. In these countries the attention of media and public is on the lower houses.


Unlike the Senators or members of the upper house in countries like England, Pakistan or Canada, the US senators are directly elected by the people. It is a common democratic experience that an indirectly elected upper house finds it difficult to resist the will of the lower house which is elected directly by the people. However; in US the Senate can claim equally representative character with the House of Representatives. It is therefore the House of Representative is not capable of dominating the Senate.


The Senate in US enjoys equal powers in legislative and financial spheres with the House of Representative, both in theory and practice. In England, the Upper House of House of Lords is given lesser authority than the Lower House or the House of Commons. The Upper House/Senate in Pakistan shares the same position as it does in England. Since the Senate and House of Representatives in US share equal powers in legislative matters there are frequent deadlocks. To resolve the deadlock Conference Committees are formed. However, the legislative history of US shows that the Senate’s viewpoint ultimately prevails over the House of Representatives.


The senators enjoy greater freedom of speech than the members of House of Representatives. A Senator can speak for as long as he desires. This enables a full length, simple and flexible debate on every matter and discusses every measure to solve the issues. Upper Houses in other countries do not enjoy such freedom of speech. In countries like Pakistan many senators are refused to talk on different matters by the chairman.


The Senate in US has sole right to impeach the President, Vice-President and other high ranking officials. The US senate has powers to investigate into all affairs whether public or private. This fact enhances the prestige of the Senate and enables it to over shadow the House of Representatives. No senate or upper house in the world has similar power.


The US Senate is the one legislative organ in the world, the members of which have solidarity and unity irrespective of their political affiliations. In 1938, when President Roosevelt tried to bypass the “senatorial courtesy”, the Senators of his own party stood against him along with the opposing members of the Senate. The entire Senate stands as one unit, whenever any attack on its authority is made.


The members of the Senate are directly elected by the entire population of a State, whereas the members of House of Representatives are elected by a fraction of population from their respective States. The Senators therefore have proud privilege of having greater representative character and greater popular support against the members of House of Representatives. The Senators represent the States as political units and regard them selves as representatives of the Nation as a whole. The local interest which dominates the House of Representatives hardly exists in the Senate. This gives to the Senate a natural precedence over the Lower House and adds to its majesty and dignity.


The US Senate is indeed a unique House. It partakes in all three functions of State; Executive, Legislative and Judicial.

In words of F.J. Haskin: “there are things which the President and the Senate may do without the assent of the House of Representatives, and things which the Senate and House of Representatives may do without the assent of the President, yet the President and the House or Representatives can do comparatively little without the assent of Senate.”

It is thus manifest that while upper chambers in the other countries of the world have been declining in power and importance, the US Senate is adding to its strength and importance. All these facts prove that no other Upper Chamber such as the British House of Lords, Pakistani or Canadian Senate enjoys such powers as are enjoyed by the Senate of US. The House of Lords of England is described as the weakest upper chamber of the world. The nominated Senate of Canada has no prestige compared to the Lower House. The Senate of Pakistan also has lesser prestige than the National Assembly with regards to the legislative and fiscal administration, as it is indirectly elected. We may, therefore, conclude that the US Senate is one of the great success of the American Constitution, a worth monument of the wisdom and foresight of its fathers. It can easily be said, without much of a debate, that the US Senate is the most powerful Senate or Second Chamber or Upper House in the world.


The House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the American Congress. It is a legislative body sharing powers with the Senate. Even though it is weaker in power compared to Senate, no legislative measures are possible without the House of Representatives. It is the popular body representing the US citizens on national principle based on population. Citizens of all sex and race but of at least 18 years of age can participate in electing a member of House of Representative.


Initially the House of Representatives consisted of 65 members but now its membership is permanently fixed to 437 unless changed by a making an amendment to the constitution. The number of representatives for each State is fixed by the Congress in proportion to its population.


The term of House of Representatives is two years. It cannot be dissolved earlier.


The House meets every year on 3rd of January according to the 20th amendment of the constitution and remains in session until its members vote to adjourn. However, the President can convene its special session. It than confine it self strictly to the task, for which it is summoned and does not discuss any other matter.


The constitution calls for a candidate for the House of Representatives to posses the following qualifications:

a.) Must be at least 25 years of age
b.) Must be citizen of US for at least 7 years
c.) Must be citizen of State from which he wants to contest election
d.) Must not hold any office or profit under the government of US


a.) The member gets annual salary of $22,500 plus $2,500 expense money.

b.) Members are free from arrest except for treason, felony and breach of peace, during the session of the house.

c.) Members enjoy the freedom of speech on floor of the House.


Unlike the Senate, the Vie-President does not preside over the House of Representatives. Instead the House elects its own speaker. The elections for the House speaker are held purely on party-lines. The candidate for the House Speaker is member of the majority party, he is partisan and openly favors the party to which he belongs, even after he elected as the Speaker. He is virtually the leader of the majority party and the legislative leadership devolves around him.


a.) Presides over the session of the House and maintains order and decorum in the House.

b.) Recognizes members on the floor of the House and allows members to speak.

c.) Decided points of order passed by the members of the House.

d.) Puts question to the vote of the House and declares the result.

e.) Interprets and applies the rules of procedure of the House, when any question on procedure is raised. His decision cannot be questioned.

f.) Refers the bills to an appropriate standing committee for consideration and action

g.) Selects the chairman of the committee of the whole House and appoints his deputy. Also appoints members of the special committee

h.) Signs all the bills passed by the House



The House of Representatives enjoys co-equal and coordinate authority with Senate in the domain of legislation. However, Senate has authority to amend or reject any bill passed by the House of Representatives.


According to the Clause-1, Section-7, Article-1 of the constitution ‘all financial bills must originate in the House of Representatives. This is an adoption from the British Constitution. According to this doctrine, all national finances must be controlled by the House directly responsible to the people. The financial matters mean all legislations involving appropriation. All appropriation bills originate in House of Representatives. This means that the annual Budget Bill must be formed by the House of Representatives.

(Note: In British Constitution the House of commons is directly responsible to the people as it is elected by the people, hence the financial powers are vested the House of Commons. House of Lords, which passes for Senate, has no say in financial affairs. However, in US the Senate is equally responsible to the people as like the House of Representatives it is directly elected by the people. Yet it has no say in financial bill. The clause that House of Representatives alone should control the finances was established by the original constitution, but even after the amendment which switched senatorial elections from indirect method to direct method, the clause were not amended)

However, Senate has power to tame revenue legislations and this can increase or decrease any given appropriation. Senate can also amend or reject the money bill.


Unlike Senate, the House of Representatives does not posses much of a control over the executive. The only executive power it possesses is that along with Senate it can declare war and conclude peace. Unlike in parliamentary form of government, the executive neither holds responsibility nor can be removed by the House of Representatives. However, it has exclusive right to initiate impeachment proceeding by preparing charges against the executive, which in this case is President. House or Representatives can also initiate impeachment for Vice-President, Supreme Court judges and other high ranking officials.


The House of Representatives participates in the process of amending the constitution of US. It shares with Senate to propose amendments in the constitution by two-third majority in both chambers.


Unlike parliamentary form of government, the House of Representatives does not posses powers to participate in electoral process of the Executive. It can only elect a President if no candidate has secured the majority. In this case the House will elect President from top 3 candidates.

In all the democracies of the world the Lower Chamber enjoys greater power than the Upper Chamber. However, the situation is reverse in US, even though the framers of the constitution intended to make the House of Representatives more powerful.



The senate possesses equal powers in legislative and financial sphere (except for producing money bill). The Senate also has powers to reject any legislation passed by House of Representatives. This weakens the powers of House of Representatives.

The Senate is also a directly elected body like the House, but unlike the House it has longer tenure and is a permanent body. This also weakens the powers of House of Representatives.

In other democracies of the World, the Senate lacks in power. US senate at least has powers to amend and reject money bill, while other Senates around the world don’t even come across the money bill. Unlike the US Senate the Senates around the world are indirectly elected. This gives more powers to Lower Chambers in other democracies, which makes Lower Chambers in other countries more powerful than the Lower Chamber in US.


Unlike in the parliamentary form of government, the executive is neither responsible to the House nor does he spring from it. He can’t even be removed by the House. Even the ministers are not elected from the House. In place of ministers, there are secretaries in US which are appointed by the President and ratified by the Senate. The house has no power in this process.

In other democracies in the world, the Lower chambers elect the Executive and his ministers. This makes other Lower chambers around the world more powerful than the House of Representatives in US.


Unlike other Lower-Chambers around the world, the House has no power or participation in appointment of high ranking official like the secretaries. The house can not even participate in treaties concluded by the President.


The tenure of the House is very short. It is elected for only two years. This discourages the senior and talented personal from joining the House. Instead they opt for Senate, which in turn makes Senate more intellect and powerful. Because of this short tenure the members of the House are busier in election process than in legislation process. As soon as they are elected, they start working on their next election.


Unlike the Senate, the House has larger membership. This possesses some limitations. Time limit is imposed during the speech. This does not enable the speaker to make the debate lively.


Unlike parliamentary of government, like in England, there is no leader of the House or spokesman of the government. The speaker of the House is the leader but he is too busy presiding meetings and regulating debates.


Unlike the Senators, the House members pay more loyalty to their parties rather than creating a political unity like in the Senate. This hampers the influence of the House.


The powers of judicial review in the hands of Supreme Court dampen the initiative of the House in legislative sphere. The members are too worried that their legislative bill may be passed as void by the Supreme Court.

All these factors contribute in making the House a weak chamber. It is probably the weakest Lower Chamber when compared to the Lower Chambers of other democracies.


The Law determines the policy of the country. The main function of the congress is to make laws or to amend or repel the existing ones. The process of law making and amending it is known as Legislative Process. Before going through the Law making process it is important to have some knowledge about bills and resolution that play important role in Law making. All legislative proposals are of two kinds; Bills and Resolutions.

(a.) BILLS:

Bills are of three kinds: Public bills, Private bills and money bills.


It deals with general matters of public importance and embodies a major program of government policy.


It deals with a person or place and is of private importance.


It deals with money matters such as taxes and is originated in the House of Representatives.


There are three kinds of resolutions namely; Joint Resolution, Concurrent Resolution and Simple House or Senate Resolution.


It is passed by both Houses of Congress and is submitted to President for his assent.


It is employed to express an attitude, opinion or objective of both Houses; which correct errors in the bills already passed by the Congress and it needs no verifications by the President.


It expresses the opinion and purpose of the concerned House and does not require any endorsement.


The following stages are adopted in Law-Making process in the Congress:


Normally all Bills are introduced by a member of either house. That member is known as the Sponsor of the Bill. The sponsor of the bill from the House, endorses the copy of the bill with his name and drops it in the House or the Secretary’s table in the Senate. The bill is immediately numbered in order of its representation and is sent to government printing press. The copies of Bill are than made available to all members of the House next morning. This process is called introduction or the “First Reading.”


The presiding officer refers these bills to the appropriate standing committees. In the case of private bill the sponsor himself writes the name of the committee while in the case of public bills, the subject matter of a bill would indicate to which committee it should be referred to.

This stage is one of the important steps in law making process. In the committees, bills are first given preliminary examination and a decision is taken, whether the proposal has any mint or not. Important matters are sorted out for further consideration, while unimportant and irrelevant matters are dropped or “Pigeon-Hold” as it is called in official terms.

The important matters are studied by the concerned committee, which gives it a thorough consideration either by it self or by sub-committee. The committee or sub-committee collects information and data on the subject matter through public hearings and Congress Library in order to arrive at a decision. The lobbyists or Pressure-groups who are interested in the Bill also provide information to the committee.

After collecting the information through various sources, the committees meet in the executive session. It may take following courses:

a.) It may approve the bill, as it stands

b.) It may amend the bill and send the same to the concerned house for approval

c.) It may re-write the bill keeping only its name and send it to the house for adoption

d.) It may condemn the bill and may substitute it with the new one

e.) It may kill or reject or Pigeon-Hold the bill by keeping it on its files.


Usually the chairman of the committee or someone designated by him may report the verdict of the committee, to the concerned chamber. In important matters the reporting is extensive and in ordinary matters the reporting is little more than a simple affirmative. The killing of the Bill is not reported in the House. The majority of the House can also discharge a petition for reporting back or calling back of the Bill from the Committee. This has to be done within 30 days of the submitting of Bill to the committee. This petition rule is rarely applied.


After the reporting of the bill, the “Second Reading” is resumed. Every clause of the Bill is discussed and debated upon. Amendments and counter amendments are proposed and passed by voting. When the bill is finally shaped in second reading it generally re-printed and place is again placed before the House for “Third Reading.” It is not necessary to re-print the Bill for Third Reading. But before the third reading, the house may it self turn into a Committee to discuss the Bill put forward by the other standing committee.


When the House goes into the committee of the whole; the speaker leaves the chair, the rules of the House are temporarily suspended. The quorum is reduced to 110 members in the committee of the whole. This reduction allows greater freedom of speech to the members and gets more time to speak as well. Than the members propose large number of amendments, give explanations and may be even dispose of various elements of the bill.


At this stage only the title of the Bill is read without proposing any amendment and is voted upon by the House. If the Bill is passed by the House successfully, it is certified by the clerk and is sent to the Senate.


The senate deals with the bill in the similar procedure. A senator announces that he is introducing. Reading the title of the bill constitute the first-reading. Second-Reading is considered completed if there is no objection and the bill is sent to the committee requested by the instructor.

The committees in the Senate are like that of the House. After the committee reports the bill favorable, it is placed on Senate calendar at least a day before being taken up. The senate holds its meeting and voting is done. If the bill gets majority it passes, if it can not get required majority it is rejected.


• If the Bill is rejected out right it is than considered as killed.

• Another method to kill the bill in senate is by using the device of Filibustering and cloture.


During the filibustering, a senator holds the floor for ours delivering relevant and irrelevant remarks, primarily intended to obstruct until some concessions are obtained.


The cloture is also known as Closure. It requires a petition to end a debate, signed by one-sixth of the senators. If this petition gets two-third majority, the cloture is in effect.

• Incase the Senate proposes some amendments to the bill, it is sent back to the House of Representatives. If the House agrees the amendments are made. If the House does not agree with the Senate, an effort is made to come to an agreement through give and take policy or through compromise. If this attempt also fails, the bill is referred to the joint-conference committee consisting of members from both the houses (9 members each). If the conference does not reach a compromise, the bill is than Killed.

If there is an agreement between the two houses on the bill, it is than referred to the President.


After the bill is passed by both the Houses, it is brought forward the President for approval before it could become a Law. If the President approves of the bill he will sign it and it will than become a Law. If he disapproves of the Bill, he will return the Bill to the House where it was originated and send his objections along with it. The President can also veto the Bill in an attempt to kill it. In such case, two-third majority of both houses can vote against the Presidential veto. If the Houses successfully vote against Presidential Veto, the Bill becomes a Law without Presidential approval. If the President does not return the Bill within 10 days (Excluding Sundays), the bill becomes a Law without his signatures – this is valid if the Congress is still in session. If the Congress session has been adjourned before 10 days have elapsed, the President may easily kill the bill by abstaining over it. This is called President’s “Pocket-Veto.”


As discussed before, the money bill can only be originated in the House of Representatives. The Bureau of budget prepares the budget of the country under the direction and the control of the President. The President makes the major fiscal policies with the help of the Bureau of Budget. The budget is planned for annual expenditure and is renewed after every year from July 1st to 30th.

The Budget is than introduced in the House of Representatives and passed by it. After the introduction of the budget, it is sent to appropriate committee. I.e. the Revenue bill is sent to the committee of “Ways and Means”, while the appropriation bill is sent to the committee on Appropriation.

The committee of “Ways & Means” holds public hearings of interested parties, which may be effective in one way or another. The bill is than reported back to the House with or without amendments. The House holds debates over the bill. After the Bill is passed by the House, it is referred to the Senate. The Senate can amend the Bill with concurrence of the House. If there is disagreement between two houses, the joint-conference committees are called in. If there is agreement the bill is reported to the President for signature and it becomes the Law for finance for the fiscal year.

This concludes our sub-chapter on "The Congress" ... only the Judicial system and Political Parites are left. I hope to post them by tomorrow. That will conclude our session on US Constitution. I appologise for the slow rate of updating and posting.
[COLOR="DarkRed"][B]17th amendment is mockery of our constitution !. May those who have implemented it burn in hell ![/B][/COLOR]

Last edited by Ahmed Ali Shah; Monday, April 03, 2006 at 03:22 AM.
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