Legislative Branch

The legislative branch of the United States government, commonly referred to as Congress, consists of representatives from every state. A session of Congress begins each January. There is usually a recess in August, after which the session resumes until Thanksgiving. The United States Constitution divides the representatives to Congress into two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The U.S. Constitution grants all legislative powers and the following other main powers to Congress:

  • Lay and collect taxes;
  • Pay the debts of the federal government;
  • Borrow money on the credit of the United States;
  • Regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the states;
  • Establish a uniform rule of naturalization and uniform laws on bankruptcies;
  • Coin money, regulate its value and fix the standard of weights and measures;
  • Provide for the punishment of counterfeiting;
  • Establish post offices and post roads;
  • Secure copyright and patent right protections to authors and inventors;
  • Constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
  • Declare war, raise and support an army, provide and maintain a navy and make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
  • Provide for a militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions; and
  • Exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over the nation’s Capitol.