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.