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3.1 Powers of Congress

The powers of the congress are specifically enumerated in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution. These specific powers may be subdivided under the following eight topics:

Fiscal: The Congress can collect taxes, pay debts, borrow and coin money.

Commerce: It can regulate interstate and foreign commerce, bankruptcies, weights and measures, patents and copyrights.

Naturalization: Congress can make uniform rules in this area.

Postal : Post offices can be established and roads posted.

Law enforcement : Congress can punish counterfeiting, establish inferior courts, define and punish piracies, call forth the military to execute the laws and suppress insurrections.

War : Congress can declare war, provide and army, a navy and a national quad, It can determine rules of warfare. Territories-seat of government, acquisition of government property.

Elastic clause : This final power is so called because it empowers the Congress to make laws that are necessary and proper "for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof." According to the Sixteenth Amendment, the Congress can collect federal income taxes. And according to the Thirteenth, Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-third, Twenty-fourth and Twenty-sixth Amendments, the Congress can enforce protection and extension of civil rights.

The implied powers of the Congress are not stated specifically in the Constitution. They are implied by the delegated powers stated in the elastic clause 18 of the Constitution. Chief Justice John Marshall of the Supreme Court upheld the view that Congress was provided with implied powers through clause 18, in addition to its 17 express powers. It was established in the prominent case of McCulloch versus Maryland in 1819. The Congress was also empowered to create a Bank of the United States as a quasi-governmental corporation. The War Powers Act of 1973, restraining the Presidentís power to send American troops into combat without first consulting and notifying Congress, is also an example of implied powers.

3.1a Powers of the House and the Senate

Certain powers are enjoyed by each house of the Congress. Thus revenue bills only originate in the House of Representatives. Though impeachment charges can be brought by the House, the trial of impeachment cases can only be carried out by the Senate. Again, the Senate enjoys the sole authority to approve of presidential appointments as also of members of the Supreme Court, and of all treaties.

3.1b Limitations on the powers of Congress

There are a number of powers denied to the Congress, which are enumerated in the Constitution under Article I, Section 9. Some of these are forbidden to the Congress as a protection to the states. For example, no preference can be given, by any regulation of commerce or revenue, to the parts of one state over those of another. Other powers are forbidden to the Congress (as a protection to the people) as for example, the Congress is forbidden to suspend the unit of Habeas Corpus except in case of rebellion or invasion. Indeed, limited government is a basic feature of the American constitutional system. Thus the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution in 1791, placing limitations on the Congress in the interest of individual liberties. The system of checks and balances permits the President to veto a law passed by the Congress. The Supreme Court is also empowered to declare a law unconstitutional.


3.0 Introduction
3.1 Powers of Congress
3.2 The Organization of Congress 3.3 How a Bill becomes a Law

Chapter 4

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