What Powers Does the Legislative Branch Have?

by Rebekah Brooks

The legislative branch of government is in charge of creating and passing laws. This branch is made up of Congress, which consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Although this branch has the ability to create and pass laws, other branches of the government, such as the executive branch and the judicial branch, have their own powers that help keep a set of checks and balances in the U.S. government and prevent each branch from having too much power over the others.

Legislative Power

Justice.

Members of congress are the only people with the ability to introduce legislation, although anyone is allowed to write a bill, according to the White House website. Once a bill has been introduced, it moves through the House of Representatives and then the Senate, where members of Congress either approve or reject it. The President has the power to veto, or strike down, a bill that is approved by Congress, but Congress can override a veto by passing the bill through the House of Representatives and Congress again and getting two-thirds approval on the bill from each chamber.

Responsible for Annual Budget

US Flag, the Capitol, and American money.

The legislative branch is the only branch that has control over the federal annual budget. Congress sets the annual budget and decides what amount of money will be spent in each department, such as military funding or educational funding. If the government doesn't have enough money to cover the expenses of the annual budget, Congress has the power to authorize the government to borrow money. The House of Representatives is the only chamber in the legislative branch that has the power to initiate revenue bills, such as bills that raise taxes or create tariffs and fees.

Ratify Treaties and Confirm Appointees

Senate.

Only the Senate has the power to ratify treaties. Treaties are agreements concerning international law that the President makes with other countries, officials, etc. Although the President makes the treaty, Congress has the sole power to approve it and must do so with two-thirds vote by the Senate. The one exception to this rule is that the House of Representatives must also approve treaties that involve foreign trade. Only the Senate has the power to confirm presidential appointees for government posts such as Supreme Court appointees. The one exception to this rule is that the House of Representatives is also required to approve appointments to the Vice Presidency.

Elect and Impeach Federal Officials

Election button 2012.

When there is an electoral tie after an election, the House of Representatives has the power to elect the President. According to the MIT website, the election of 1824 was the only time the House of Representatives elected the President due to a tie in the electoral college. The House of Representatives also has the power to impeach federal officials, which means the official is charged with an offense. Once an investigation is conducted, the House of Representatives sends the issue to the Senate for its decision on whether to remove the official from office.

Declare War

Soldier leaving home for war.

Although the President is the Commander in Chief of the U.S. military, Congress is the only branch of government that has the power to declare war. Despite this, the President still has the power to authorize military actions that might be considered war tactics even if Congress has not authorized the military to go to war, according to This Nation website.

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