Chapter 11: Congress

Duties of the House and Senate

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Duties of the House and Senate

The Constitution gives the House and Senate shared powers, including the power to declare war, raise an army and navy, borrow and coin money, regulate interstate commerce, create federal courts, establish rules for the naturalization of immigrants, and “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers.”

However, there are some differences between the House and Senate in their constitutional responsibilities. All revenue bills must originate in the House. The House has the power of impeachment and the power to formally charge the president, vice president, and other “civil officers” of the national government with serious crimes. The Senate is empowered to act as a court to try impeachment, with the chief justice of the Supreme Court presiding. The Constitution gives the Senate some additional powers, such as approving presidential nominations including all federal judges, ambassadors, and cabinet members. The Constitution gives the president the power to negotiate treaties with foreign countries, but the Senate must approve any treaty with a two-thirds majority.

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