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AP GOVERNMENT

Evolution of Congress (Use pp. 307-310)


Outline the intentions of the founders of the Constitution when creating
Congress (5 to 7 key points)
1. They did not want to have all powers concentrated in a single government
institution, even a popularly elected one, because they feared a
concentration could lead to a majority rule which would oppress a
minority.
2. States were jealous of their independence and would never consent to a
national constitution if it did not protect their interests and balance
between small and large states.
3. They wanted the house to be both big and powerful.
4. Congress was to be subjected to the power of the Supreme Court to
declare acts unconstitutional.
5. Shared power with the president.
6. Limited to power explicitly conferred powers.
Outline the conflict over distribution of power in the Congress between
centralization and decentralization (5 to 7 key points)
If Congress acted quickly and decisively as a body, then there would have to be
strong central leadership, restrictions on debate, few opportunities for stalling
tactics, and minimal committee interference.
If the interest of individual members and the constituencies they represent were
protected or enhanced, then there would have to be weak leadership, rules
allowing for delay and discussion, and many opportunities for committee
activity.

The Structure and Powers of Congress


(Use pp. 303-310 and Unit #1 Separation of Powers/Checks and Balances Notes)
1.

Outline the bicameral structure (two chambers/houses) of Congress (4


to 5 key points)

House of Representatives
If group run = hard for individuals to obtain power
Individual run = House harder to run and reducing house power in
government
Senate
Small without giving too much power to leaders
Not elected by voters until 20th century
2.

Outline the expressed (enumerated, delegated) powers of Congress

Collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises


Regulate commerce with foreign nations and states
Establish rules for naturalization (becoming a citizen) and bankruptcy
Set value of money and punish counterfeiting
Post office and post roads
Issue patents and copyrights to inventors and authors
Create courts below Supreme court
To make laws that are necessary and proper
To exercise exclusive legislative powers over the seat of government and
other federal facilities.
To provide for a militia
To raise and support and army and make rules for them
To declare war
To define and punish piracies, felonies on the high seas against the laws of
nations.

3.

Outline the Institutional powers of Congress (those that relate to the


system of checks and balances)
Writes and enacts laws
Enacts taxes, authorizes borrowing, and sets the budget
Has sole power to declare war

May start investigations, especially against the executive branch


The Senate considers presidential appointments of judges and
executive department heads
The Senate ratifies treaties
The House of Representatives may impeach, and the Senate may
remove, executive and judicial officers
Sets up federal courts except the Supreme Court, and sets the number
of justices on the Supreme Court
May override presidential vetoes