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The Branches of Government and Presidential Election

I have come across many voters who do not know how laws become laws in the USA, including how much power the president has to get laws passed. I will attempt to shine some light on the process of law making and the three branches of government. Many voters get frustrated and blame everything that happens or doesn’t happen to the president of the USA. However, many of the things that happen to citizens, non-citizens and organizations come about because of laws passed by congress, sometimes even when vetoed by the president and laws that become laws based on court rulings by the Supreme Court. It is important to understand that for a president to be effective he needs to have a working relationship with the house of representative and the senate. Unfortunately, we have seen a very inept and obstructive congress in the past four years. Mainly because the stance that Republicans took that they only had one and only one main priority which became to stop President Obama from getting reelected for a second term. The Republicans have the Majority in Congress and they decide what legislation is written to send up to the Senate and the President for making into a law.

The founders created a system of checks and balances so that any branch can check the other two branches in order to maintain a balance of powers amongst the three branches of government. Each branch has its own responsibilities.

It is almost impossible for a sitting president to be effective at his job if every time he sets a direction for the country it is met with obstruction in Congress.

The framers of the constitution wanted to form a government that did not allow one person to have too much authority or control. With this in mind the framers wrote the constitution to provide for a separation of powers or three branches of powers.

The three branches of government in the USA are the Legislative, the Executive and the Judicial. The Legislative Branch is called Congress which includes the House of Representative and the Senate. The Executive Branch is the President and Vice President, the Judiciary is the Supreme Court.

The Legislative Branch: The US Congress is made up of two parts, the House of Representatives (the House) and the Senate. Congress meets at the US Capitol Building in Washington D.C. its primary duty is to write, debate and pass bills, which are then passed on to the President for approval. The members of the House are chosen based on population in each state, while the members in the Senate are the same for each state (2 per state). Currently, there are 435 members in the House and 100 members in the Senate. The House Representatives are elected for two years and the Senators are elected for six years.

The house has special powers that are only available to it:

  • Start laws that make people pay taxes.
  • Decide if a government official should be put on trial before the Senate if s/he commits a crime against the country

 The Senate has special powers that are only available to it:

  • Say yes or no to any treaties the president makes.
  • Say yes or no to any people the president recommends for jobs, such as cabinet officers, Supreme Court justices, and ambassadors.
  • Can hold a trial for a government official who does something very wrong.

The Executive Branch makes sure that the laws of the US are obeyed. The President is the head of the Executive Branch. Due to the large task of this branch the president counts with the Vice President, department heads (some are Cabinet members; the Cabinet currently has 15 members), and heads of independent agencies:

  • President: Leader of the country and commands the military.
  • Vice President: President of the Senate and becomes President if the President can no longer do the job.
  • Departments: Department heads advise the President on issues and help carry out policies.
  • Independent Agencies: Help carry out policy or provide special services.

The Judicial Branch – the judicial branch of the government is made up of the court system. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. Courts decide arguments about the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether they break the rules of the Constitution. Most laws are vague on their meaning and applications and this is one reason that courts are necessary. Many laws can be interpreted to mean different things and the courts help further define them as cases are brought to them through litigation. The Supreme Court is made up of nine Justices. One of them is the Chief Justice. They are appointed by the President and must be approved by the Senate. Justices have their jobs for life, unless they resign or retire or are impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate.

As you can see, in order for the country to run smooth there is a need for the different branches of government to work together; the Congress and the Executive Branch, especially.

Bills can only be submitted by members of Congress. The President approves the bills which then become law. When the President wants to submit a law he has to do it via a member of congress.

We should look closely at the candidates for President and if we believe that they have a great plan for a better direction of the US, for our residents then we might want to put him there with the supportive Congress that will work to approve the laws and policies that will move this country forward.

I hope this article gives you a better understanding of the structure of government in the USA. Also, I urge you to analyze our current situation and make an informed decision on which you want to vote for President this coming Presidential Elections.

If you want to discuss this topic or others, please call me at 973-390-2926 or via email anibal@anibalalcantarajr.com