Roles of Congress
The United States Congress comprises the House of Representatives and the senate. The Congress assembles in Washington U.S. The congress is the other name for the legislature. 435 house representatives in Congress stand for the districts while, on the other hand, fifty senators stand for the fifty states (Hamilton 129). This paper explains the roles played by Congress, which also explains why it is difficult to pass legislation in Congress.
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The constitution of the US clearly explains that both the House of Representatives and the senate are even, but it goes ahead to accord each side its responsibilities or, in other words, the powers. This means that for a law to be made both sides must agree because if they don’t conclude then the policy that was to be passed is dropped.
According to Hamilton (2004), the senate is assigned the role of verifying senior presidential appointments while the house representatives identify cases that could be a result of the accusation that can cause a member of Congress to be sacked. A congressperson can not be sacked without the consent of the senate because its judgment is final (8). This argument suggests that the two elements depend on each other.
Congress is responsible for managing the budget, and thus it has the authority to introduce taxes as it finds necessary, which also allows it to gather the said taxes. Taxes are meant to cater for the expenses of the government while carrying out its tasks. Congress can obtain loans from other institutions, including individuals, through treasury bonds, when it is certain that it lacks adequate money to fund its activities (Jackman 1).
Congress controls trade with other nations and as well as among its states. It implies that before a country can do business with the United States, it has to seek permission from Congress. In addition to that, Congress can terminate business involving foreign countries and internal states when it feels that it is not healthy for both parties. An example of how this authority can be exercised is like when the US imposed economic sanctions against Iran, which hindered it from doing business with other countries.
Jackman explains that when the US conflicts with another nation the response of the US is guided by Congress because it’s the only element of government that can give authority to the defense forces to stage an attack against the enemy (1). For instance, during the raid of Iraq which was meant to remove Saddam Hussein from power, the military was responding to instructions from congress because Iraq was perceived to be a threat to the security of the US.
Congress is responsible for developing post offices in the US. Additionally, Congress can form courts which are below the Supreme Court according to the judicial structure. Congress acts as the watchdog of the other entities of the government. Congress can push for the sacking or resignation of the president and any other federal officials when the need arises.
The roles of Congress are clearly defined to avoid conflicts that would arise if they were not assigned accordingly. It means that the two elements of Congress would contradict each other in their roles. There are situations where things had to be done with or without the approval of congress. For instance, the war in Iraq brought sharp reactions because congress had not fully approved the war.
Why it is Difficult to Pass Legislation
It is very difficult to pass legislation in congress due to various reasons. First, the two elements of Congress that are the senate and the house representatives have to agree with each other. Another reason is that the congresspersons are rarely re-elected into Congress, and thus when a motion is tabled in Congress towards the elections, it is least likely to be passed because the persons who lose their positions are in Congress just for the sake of being there.
It usually happens immediately after the November midterm elections and since Congress must accomplish its unfinished issues before the 3rd of January when it begins the new session the congresspersons who lose during such elections oppose motions without a justified reason. They are, normally, in Congress to sabotage the efforts of their colleagues to ensure that even if they have managed to recapture their seats it won’t be possible next time they vie for reelection. The losers are always on the lookout to make sure they go down the drain with someone. Sometimes, congress awards executive powers, and it is difficult to retain them. For instance, Bush was given powers to use military forces against terrorism, but later own he refused to give back the powers (Dana 1).
These unjustified oppositions cause Congress to end the year without accomplishing most of its agendas. This means that the un-enacted motion has to wait until January when the congress resumes and because most congresspersons are not reelected the new congresspersons may not understand the policy in question. The other factor is brought about by the political parties.
Motion can only be passed if it’s supported by the two political parties, that is, the democrats and the republicans. Their influence is determined by their dominance in the two elements of Congress. For instance, if most congresspersons are from the democrats, a motion tabled by the democrats is most likely to be passed because the party has the majority opinion. But, again, there has to be a balance in the two elements for a motion to be passed.
If the Democrats only dominate the House of Representatives but are not well represented in the senate they may not be successful in pushing for the enactment of policy. The constitution proposes that motion has to be voted for in both houses, and to be specific, the senate must provide two-thirds of votes to pass a motion hence even if the majority of the house representatives are from one party they may not succeed (Hamilton 7).
The above requirement has been difficult to fulfill for many years. It has been due to the divisions along with political parties. One political party may decide to sabotage motions tabled by their rival party, and when such attitudes are in the minds of Congresspersons they may only pass motions that tend to favor their parties. Sometimes the political parties have to persuade their members to vote for or against a bill tabled by their rival.
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There have been situations when a congressperson was supposed to be ejected from their position due to scandals but since they have the full support of their party they manage to survive the censure motion. This happens if the congressperson belongs to the dominant political party because his/her partners cannot vote against one of their own since they are not sure they will retain the seat after their member has been sacked, thus, the main issue here is to retain the dominance of both houses.
Congresspersons who were ejected in the recent past blamed their parties for failing to support them but again when the person who is under scrutiny belongs to a political party that is not dominant there is no way he/she can escape. Therefore, congresspersons should put their party interests aside and consider the issues at hand. If they are unable to perform the tasks that they were assigned for, then they will never be reelected into the congress because all they do is sabotaging each other, thus adding no value to the lives of their people. This is because important policies will continue to be ignored while they are concerned about their vested interests.
Dana, Nelson. ”The ‘Unitary Executive’ Question.” Los Angeles Times. 2008. Web.
Hamilton, Lee. How Congress Works and Why You Should Care. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004. Print.
Jackman, Scott. “What is the Role of Congress? – A Review of Congressional Duties and Responsibilities.” Suite101.com. 2008. Web.