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Governmental power and functions in the United States rest in three branches of government the Legislative Judicial and Executive In this system of a separation of powers each branch operates independently of the others However there are built in checks and balances to prevent overbearing concentration of power in any one branch and to protect the rights and liberties of citizens Articles One Two and Three of the Constitution define the powers that the Legislative Executive and the Judicial Branchs oversee The Legislative Branch is the first area that we will look at The Congress of the United States was created by Article I of the Constitution All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives The most important responsibility of Congress is that of making the laws of the United States In both houses standing committees do the work of preparing and considering legislation and in addition there are special committees in each house as well as joint committees The two houses have an equal voice in legislation but revenue bills must originate in the House of Representatives Bills after having been passed by each house separately must be signed by the President within 10 days of their submission or they become law automatically unless Congress is not in session If vetoed by the President a bill may become law only by a vote of a two-thirds majority in each house Only the House of Representatives may impeach the President or other federal officers and the Senate alone has the authority to try impeachments but each house is the moderator of the qualifications of its own members The Senate must ratify all treaties by a two-thirds vote and confirm important presidential appointments to office including cabinet members judges of federal courts and high-ranking officers of the armed forces
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