The Legislative Branch of the Federal Government

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The Legislative Branch of the Federal Government The Legislative Brach of the federal government is made up of two Chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate. These two bodies draft and pass laws that, if signed by the President of the United States, govern the United States and it's citizens. The bicameral (two-house) Congress emerged from a compromise between delegates from large and small states at the Constitutional Convention, which convened in Philadelphia in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States. The Articles of Confederation, which had governed the country since 1783, left the national government powerless to resolve trade disputes with other countries and to prevent ruinous economic competition between the states. The delegates worried, however, that giving too much authority to the national government would result in the kinds of abuses of power that had led the colonies to break away from Great Britain. To prevent such problems, the framers of the Constitution gave most political power to the Congress, rather than to a single leader such as a king or president. The convention delegates disagreed over how to select members of Congress, however. The more populous states, such as Virginia and Pennsylvania, wanted power in the legislature that reflected their population and wealth. They favored a system that assigned congressional seats based on the number of residents in each state. Smaller states, such as New Jersey and Connecticut, feared that their interests would be ignored if they did not have equal representation in Congress. The House of Representatives, combined with the Senate, is the world's most powerful legislature. Acting in tandem, ... ... middle of paper ... ...rtation planning, and agriculture. Senators rely on their most trusted assistants to confer with other members of the Senate about pending legislation. Senate staff also work on large projects, such as securing federal grants to fund roads and schools in their state. Some Senate staff spend all their time on constituency service, solving problems that individual citizens have with government agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Veterans Administration. Most senators maintain offices in several major cities in their state. These offices help senators keep in touch with voters and make it easier for their staff to work on citizens' problems. Many senators choose to assign as many as one-third of their staff to these offices. In 1998 senators were paid an annual salary of $136,700. They also receive reimbursement for travel and housing expenses.

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