Federal Government (United States)


August 19, 2022

According to the US Constitution, the Federal government of the United States includes all state organs at the federal level of the United States of America (the term is therefore misleading in German, because "government" there only means the executive part ). It consists of three separate branches: Legislative: Congress (Senate and House of Representatives), Executive: President, Cabinet and the subordinate administrative apparatus ("Administration"), as well as Judiciary: Supreme Court and other federal courts. Through a system of separation of powers (checks and balances), each of these branches has the opportunity and task to work independently and to have a controlling effect on the other branches.


Article 1 of the Constitution assigns all legislative power of the federal government to Congress, which is divided into two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate consists of two members for each state. It currently has 100 members. In contrast, the distribution of seats in the House of Representatives is based on the population of the individual states; the constitution does not stipulate a specific number of MPs. In almost all states, the members of both chambers are determined by relative majority voting. The only exceptions are Louisiana and Washington, both of which use runoff elections when no candidate achieves an absolute majority. The US Constitution does not contain specific information on the establishment of congressional committees. As the nation grew, the need to deepen the legislative process arose. The 108th Congress (2003–2005) had 19 standing committees in the House of Representatives and 17 in the Senate. There are also four other joint permanent committees with members from both chambers. These committees serve to advise on Library of Congress, press, tax and business issues. Due to the increased workload, Congressional committees have formed about 150 subcommittees.

Responsibilities and Powers

Congress has the task of overseeing and influencing the executive branch. Congressional oversight is designed to prevent waste and corruption, safeguard fundamental rights, ensure law enforcement, collect information for bills, notify the public of new bills, and evaluate the administration of the executive branch. The oversight relates to cabinet departments, administrative authorities, supervisory commissions and the presidency. The oversight function is exercised in many forms, including: Investigations and hearings by committees Formal consultations with and reports from the President Advising and approving the Senate on certain presidential appointments and federal treaties House abuse investigations and Senate impeachment proceedings 25th Amendment resolutions when the President becomes ineligible or the Vice President becomes vacant Informal meetings between representatives of the legislative and executive branches Work of Congress Representatives on Government Commissions Studies by congressional committees and supporting agencies such as the Congressional Budget Office and the General Accountability Office, all attached to Congress.

Legislative powers of the federal government

The US Constitution explicitly gives Congress a number of legislative powers. These include competencies to determine the: federal tax law budget law military law Foreign and Interstate Commercial Law naturalization rights currency and criminal law in the field of counterfeiting federal mail copyright Federal jurisdiction below the Supreme Court Criminal law in the field of piracy right of defence Right in