(1) Introduction To American Congress:
American Congress is bicameral legislature and consists of Senate and House of Representatives: Senate is its upper house where as House of Representatives is its lower house. It is through consent of its both houses that legislation is done in United States of America.
(2) Organization Of American Senate:
Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States of America. American Senate represents all those states, which are present in United States of America. As far as its organization is concerned, following points are important:
- (i) Membership
- (ii) Qualifications of Senators
- (iii) Presiding officers of Senate
- (iv) Elections of Senators
- (v) Term
- (vi) Committee system
Total members of American Senate are hundred. Out of these members, two members are elected from each state of United States of America.
(ii) Qualifications of Senators:
According to American Constitution, a candidats for Senator must possess following qualifications:
- (a) Age.
- (b) American citizen,
- (c) Resident of United States of America.
- (d) Inhabitant of state of United States of America,
Minimum age for a candidate is thirty years.
(b) American Citizen:
A candidate must be citizen of United States of America.
(c) Resident Of United States Of America:
At the time of elections, candidate must have been resident of United Sates of Americas for at least previous nine years.
(d) Inhabitant Of State Of United States Of America:
At the time of elections, candidate must be inhabitant of that state from which he/she is contesting elections.
(iii) Presiding Officer of Senate:
American Vice President and President pro tempore are presiding officers of American Senate.
(iv) Elections of Senators:
According to American Constitution, two senators are elected from each state. Following points are important as far as elections of American Senators are concerned:
- (a) Direct elections.
- (b) Elections of one third senators after every two years.
- (c) Temporarily vacant seats in American Senate.
(a) Direct Elections:
American Senators are elected through direct elections. People of each state elect two senators for American Senate.
(b) Elections Of One Third Senators After Every Two Years:
There exists three-class system in American Senate. Through this system, American Senators are divided into three classes so that elections of one third of them can be held after every two years.
(c) Temporarily Vacant Seats In American Senate:
In case of death or resignation of a Senator, Governor of concerned state possesses power to appoint temporary senate until either a special or regular elections take place.
No-doubt elections of American Senate are held to elect one third members after every two years, but an American Senator is elected for a term of six years. In other words, term of an American Senate is six years.
(vi) Committee system:
In American Senate, there exists committee system. Under this committee system, there are sixteen sub-committees and American Senate use these committees to fulfill different purposes and tasks.
(3) Functions Of American Senate:
American Senate performs following main functions:
- (i) Legislation
- (ii) Constitutional amendment
- (iii) Election of Vice President
- (iv) Election of President pro tempore of Senate
- (v) Senator’s qualifications
- (vi) Ratification of treaties
- (vii) Confirmation of appointment of officials
- (viii) Supervision of executive
- (ix) Judicial powers
- (x) Check & balance
According to American Constitution, bills can be introduced in any House of American Congress. However, Money-Bills are introduced only in House of Representatives. The reality is that all kinds of Bill are usually introduced in House of Representatives. After their approval from House of Representatives, they are presented into Senate and after their approval from Senate and president, they become laws.
(ii) Constitutional Amendment:
American Senate, along with House of Representatives, can propose a constitutional amendment. After approval of such amendment through two third majority in Senate as well as in House of Representatives, such amendment can be submitted to legislatures of states.
(iii) Election Of American Vice President:
It is American Senate, which decides election of American Vice-President particularly when no candidate gets an absolute majority of votes in the elections. In such situation, American Senate elects the one out of the two candidates, who have secured the highest votes.
(iv) Election Of President Pro Tempore Of Senate:
Members of American Senate also elect President pro tempore (President for a time) and this President pro tempore is to preside over Senate in absence of President of Senate.
(v) Senator’s Qualifications:
As far as Senator’s qualifications are concerned, it is stated that American Senate and not American judiciary is the sole judge of a senator’s qualifications. Members present in the Senate can vote through two third majority to exclude senator on the basis of disorderly behavior or some other grave reason.
(vi) Ratification Of Treaties:
American Senate plays some prominent role as far as ratification of treaties is concerned. For ratification of a treaty, two third majority is needed in Senate. However, American President can get a treaty ratified through simple majority in House of Representatives.
(vii) Confirmation Of Appointment Of Officials:
Confirmation of American Senate is necessary for appointment of officials like members of American Cabinet, heads of federal executive agencies, ambassadors, Justices of the Supreme Court, and other federal judges.
(viii) Supervision Of Executive:
American Senate can make various committees to conduct investigation and make reports on administration of federal government. In this way, Senate not only controls, but also supervises executive of federal government.
(ix) Judicial Powers:
American Senate possesses some judicial powers. It has Power not only te, initiate cases but has also power to conduct investigation and record evidence. Even it can impeach American President, American Vice-President and other high rank officials.
(x) Check & Balance:
Confirmation of appointment of high rank officials. ratification of treaties and judicial powers of American Senate reveal that American Senate plays an important role as far as check and balance are concerned.
(4) Chairman Of American Senate:
Presiding officer is considered Chairman of American Senate. Following points are important as far as Chairman of American Senate is concerned:
- (i) Who can be Chairman or President of American Senate?
- (ii) Election of President pro tempore of American Senate
- (iii) Powers & functions of Chairman of American Senate
(i) Who Can Be Chairman Or President Of American Senate?
American Vice-President is Chairman or President of American Senate.
(ii) Election Of President Pro Tempore Of American Senate:
Members of American Senate also elect President pro tempore (President for a time) and such President is to preside over Senate in absence of President of Senate.
(iii) Powers & Functions Of Chairman Of American Senate:
Unlike powers of Speaker of American House of Representatives, powers of Chairman of American Senate are not extensive. Followings are main powers and functions of Chairman of American Senate:
- (a) To preside over sessions of Senate
- (b) Permission to speak
- (c) To rule on point of order
- (d) To announce results of voting
- (e) Participation in voting
(a) To Preside Over Sessions Of Senate:
Usually Chairman of American Senate is to preside over sessions of Senate. However, President pro tempore presides over sessions of Senate when Chairman is absent.
(b) Permission To Speak:
Chairman of American Senate permits members of Senate to speak in the house.
(c) To Rule On Point Of Order:
In American Senate, Chairman of American Senate rules on point of order.
(d) To Announce Results Of Voting:
Chairman of American Senate announces results of those voting, which are held in American Senate.
(e) Participation In Voting:
Chairman of American Senate can only vote when members of Senate are equally divided in voting on a matter
(5) Comparison Between Powers Of American Senate:
On the basis of following grounds, it can be opined that American Senate is the most powerful upper house in the world and American House of Representative is weaker chamber in American Congress:
- (i) Judicial powers
- (ii) Executive powers
- (iii) Representation
- (iv) Membership & tenure
- (v) Elections of members
- (vi) Legislative powers
- (vii) American system of government
(i) Judicial Powers:
American Senate possesses some judicial powers. For instance, the Senate can conduct investigation and record evidence on any matter. In addition to this, it can impeach American President, Vice-President and other high rank officials. Contrary to this, American House of Representatives does not have such judicial powers.
(ii) Executive powers
Conducting of investigation and making of reports on administration of Federal government and confirmation of appointment of various high rank officials reveal that American Senate possesses some executive powers. Contrary to this, American House of Representatives does not have such powers.
If representation of people of United States of America is present in American House of Representatives, then representation of states of United Sates of America is present in American Senate. In both houses of American Congress, representation is established through direct elections. Contrary to British, Canadian and Pakistani upper houses, American upper house is a house of real representation.
(iv) Membership & Tenure:
No-doubt membership of American Senate is very small. But its tenure is lengthy one. Its small membership helps its members to maintain solitary among them while its lengthy tenure helps it to accomplish its plans and policies.
(v) Elections Of Members:
Unlike British, Canadian and Pakistani members of upper house, American senators are elected through direct elections. Therefore, it can be stated American Senate is a true elected house.
(vi) Legislative Powers:
Under American Constitution, both the lower and upper houses have equal legislative powers. However, situation is very different in some other countries like Great Britain lower house has more legislative powers over upper house. In Great HONEY Constitutional Law – Britain, house
(vii) American System Of Government:
In parliamentary system of government, lower house of Parliament is usually more powerful over upper house, Contrary to this, American system of government is federal system of government. In such system of government, upper house (Senate) has been made powerful over lower house (House of Representatives).
To conclude, it can be stated that presence of senior politicians and their experience have made American Senate more powerful over American House of Representatives. Usually senior American politicians are elected as senators, and their knowledge and experience help in checking arbitrary powers of other branches of American government.
To get all LLB easy Notes simply Click below these:-
want to learn more about the American congress, simply click here.