Congress: Making Laws–Adding to and Changing the Contract

An aerial image of the U. S. Capitol Complex.

While the Capitol is the natural focus point of Capitol Hill and the workings of Congress, the Capitol complex includes over a dozen buildings, including the House of Representatives office buildings (left), the Senate office buildings (far right), the Library of Congress buildings (lower left), and the Supreme Court (lower right). (credit: modification of work by the Library of Congress)

The framers of the Constitution intended that Congress would be the cornerstone of the new republic. After years of tyranny under a king, they had little interest in creating another system with an overly powerful single individual at the top. While recognizing the need for centralization through a stronger national government with an elected executive wielding its own authority, they wanted a strong representative national assembly that would use careful consideration, deliberate action, and constituent representation to carefully draft legislation. Article I of the Constitution grants several key powers to Congress–overseeing the budget and financial matters, introducing legislation, confirming or rejecting judicial and executive nominations, and even declaring war.

Today, Congress is the most criticized and possibly the most misunderstood institution.

http://loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/connections/abraham-lincoln-papers/history3.html; Title"The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both congresses and courts, not to over-throw the Constitution, but to over-throw the men who pervert that Constitution" / E.B. & E.C. Kellogg, 245 Main Street, Hartford, Conn.SummaryPrint showing three-quarter portrait of Abraham Lincoln standing, holding a book, facing right.Contributor NamesE.B. & E.C. Kellogg (Firm), printerCreated / PublishedNew York: Geo. Whiting, 87 Fulton St.; [1864]Subject Headings-  Lincoln, Abraham,--1809-1865Format HeadingsLithographs--Hand-colored--1860-1870.Portrait prints--1860-1870.Notes-  Title from item.-  "This picture is a good likeness of the original."-  Includes facsimile signatures of Abraham Lincoln, E. S. Cleveland, Hartford, Conn., and Philip Wadsworth, Chicago, Ills.-  Gift; Estate of Henry P. Fletcher.Medium1 print : lithograph, hand-colored ; 42.9 x 33.2 cm.Call Number/Physical LocationPGA - Kellogg (E.B. & E.C.)--Portrait of Abraham ... (B size) [P&P]RepositoryLibrary of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.printDigital Idppmsca 19243 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.19243Library of Congress Control Number2008680376Reproduction NumberLC-DIG-ppmsca-19243 (digital file from original)Rights AdvisoryNo known restrictions on publication.

Three-quarter portrait of Abraham Lincoln standing, holding a book, facing right–1809-1865; Notes-  Title from item.-  “This picture is a good likeness of the original.”-  Includes facsimile signatures of Abraham Lincoln, E. S. Cleveland, Hartford, Conn., and Philip Wadsworth, Chicago, Ills.; Repository Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.printDigital Idppmsca 19243 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.19243; Library of Congress Control Number2008680376 Reproduction NumberLC-DIG-ppmsca-19243 (digital file from original) Rights Advisory; No known restrictions on publication.

Consider the Original

from Abraham Lincoln

“The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both congresses and courts, not to over-throw the Constitution, but to over-throw the men who pervert that Constitution.”[1]

Congress: Questions to Consider

  1. Briefly explain the benefits and drawbacks of a bicameral system.
  2. What are some examples of the enumerated powers granted to Congress in the Constitution?
  3. Why does a strong presidency necessarily pull power from Congress?
  4. How exactly does Capitol Hill operate?
  5. What are the different structures and powers of the House of Representatives and the Senate?
  6. How are members of Congress elected?
  7. How do they reach their decisions about legislation, budgets, and military action?

  1. http://loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/connections/abraham-lincoln-papers/history3.html; Title"The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both congresses and courts, not to over-throw the Constitution, but to over-throw the men who pervert that Constitution" / E.B. & E.C. Kellogg, 245 Main Street, Hartford, Conn.E.B. & E.C. Kellogg , Printer. "The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both congresses and courts, not to over-throw the Constitution, but to over-throw the men who pervert that Constitution" / E.B. & E.C. Kellogg, 245 Main Street, Hartford, Conn. [New York: Geo. Whiting, 87 Fulton St, 1864] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/2008680376/&gt;.