This is the country that dropped 2 atomic bombs on Japan ending the Second World War. This is the country that is home to the world’s richest man. This is a world superpower whose government and economic policies as well as systems affect the entire world. This is the United States of America.
The government system of the USA is basically divided into 3 main categories or branches. The first being the executive branch, consisting of the President and his/hers officials, the next being the legislative branch, consisting of the United States Congress which comprises of the House of Representatives and the Senate; the third and last branch is the judicial branch, which consists of the courts.
The Executive Branch
The Executive Branch is led by the President and consists of his delegates. The president is both the head of state and government, as well as military commander in chief. The president is only allowed to be elected for 2 terms of 4 years each. He has the power to veto any legislation passed by the legislative branch and that veto can be cancelled only if there is a two thirds majority against the veto from the legislative branch. The president can also pardon criminals convicted of offences against the federal government, enact executive officers and appoint federal and supreme judges with the consent of the senate. The president of the United States may be seen as the world’s most powerful person, but in actual fact, there is a balance and check system to ensure that he is not holding too much power. He can face impeachment by the congress if he is suspected of treason, bribery or other high crimes. Impeachment is successful if there is a two thirds majority in the congress for it.
Another important person in the Executive Branch is the Vice President. The vice president is the first in presidential line of succession, where the vice president becomes president upon the death, resignation or removal of the President. He also serves as Senate President and breaks tie votes in that chamber. He is also a senior adviser to the President.
The main job of the executive committee is to enforce the laws, making sure that its officials enforce the law, making sure the citizens abide by the laws and also making sure that they themselves set a good example of enforcing them.
The Legislative Branch
The legislative branch consists of the United States Congress, which consists of 2 main chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The Senate consists of 100 senators, 2 from each state regardless of the state population. The Senate’s job is to give advice and consent to various presidential appointments. Senators serve six years terms with one third of the senate standing for election every 2 years.
The House of Representatives consists of 435 members. Each of them represents a congressional district and serves for a 2 year term. The house seats are also apportioned among the states by population. The job of the House of Representatives is to introduce bills to raise revenue.
Each chamber may have their own powers and responsibilities, but the consent of both chambers are needed to make and pass laws. The power of the Congress however, are limited to those enumerated in the constitution, the rest of the power are reserved to the states and the people.
In order to prevent waste and fraud as well as protecting civil liberties, ensuring executive compliance with the law and to gather information for making laws, there is such a thing called Congressional oversight. Congressional oversight function takes the form of committee inquiries and hearings, formal consultations with the President, Senate advice and consent for presidential nominations, house impeachment proceedings, informal meetings between legislators and executive officials etc.
The Judicial Branch
The Judicial Branch consists of the Supreme Court, the courts of appeals and the District Courts. In each state, there is a district court. This court is the first court that any civilian would have to go through in a legal case. The court of appeal is next for appealing on the district court’s decision. The Supreme Court of each state is the next step for appealing against the decision of the court of appeal. The US federal Supreme Court is only used when the case involved has an issue with the federal law.
Balance and Check
The term ‘Balance and Check’ is used to describe the measures and systems that are put in place to prevent any individual or group to take complete or too much power, preventing dictatorship and corruption. The United States works under the Montesquieu's tripartite system which divided political power through executive, legislature and judiciary.
Under the legislative branch, the congress has the power to impeach both executive officials and judges, has the authority to check over the composition of the executive branch. When no presidential candidate has a majority in the Electoral College, the House of Representatives chooses the president while the senate chooses the vice president. The senate’s advice and consent is required for the President to appoint cabinet members. Appointments of judges are also done with the advice and consent of the senate.
Under the executive branch, the President has the power to veto bills, either house or both houses can be called into an emergency meeting by the President and the Vice President serves as President for the Senate.
Under the Judicial branch, courts can check the executive and legislative branch through judicial review. Courts may also strike down a law if it seems unconstitutional.
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