What Is the Legislative Branch of the U.S. Government? | History

- There are three branches

of government in the US,

legislative, executive,

and judicial.


The legislative branch

is comprised of the United States

Congress, the bicameral

legislature responsible for

writing and passing all federal laws,

among various other functions.


Back when the Founding Fathers

drafted the Constitution, debate

stirred over the type of legislature

they'd have, one with equal

representation, ie, the same number

of representatives for each state,

or of proportional representation,

in which the number of representatives

reflected the size of each state's


Unable to choose, they

settled on both, a legislative branch

with two houses, the House

of Representatives and the Senate,

which together, form the Congress.

This was all outlined in Article I

of the Constitution, which also notes

the functions, powers,

and parameters of the Congress

and its individual representatives.

A congressman's primary

responsibilities include representing

the interests of their constituents,

working together to write laws,

overseeing other government agencies,

and passing bills.

But of course, that's all way easier

said than done.

To understand how it all works,

we have take a closer look

at the makeup of the two distinct houses.


The first and lower house

is the House of Representatives

made up of 435 elected officials.

Each state is allotted a number

of congressmen determined

by their total population.

To become a member of the House,

one must be at least 25,

have lived in the US for seven years,

live in this state they will represent,

and be elected by the people.

Congressmen serve two-year terms

and are up for re-election

every even year.

The House is led by the Speaker

of the House, who is elected by the House

of Representatives.

The House has a few exclusive powers

not shared by the Senate.

Only the House can initiate tax laws

and spending bills.

Only the House can initiate impeachment

of a president or other government


And in the event that there is no majority

in the Electoral College for one

of the presidential candidates,

it's the House who casts

the deciding vote.

The Senate, or the Upper House,

is made up of only 100

elected members with two senators

from each state.

Here, a state like Wyoming

has as strong a voice as California,

even though California

has a much larger population.

To run for Senate, one

must be at least 30 years old,

have lived in the US for nine years,

and live in the state that they

will represent.

Senators serve six-year terms.

Every even year, a third of the Senate

is up for re-election.

Before the 17th amendment

was ratified in 1912, senators

were elected by the state legislatures.

But now, they are elected

by us, the people.

The vise president of the United States

serves as the head of the Senate,

but he or she may only

cast a vote in the event of a tie.

The Senate exclusively

has the power to approve

presidential appointments

and treaties.

And when the House moves to impeach

a government official,

it's the Senate that tries them.

Together, both houses have the power

to tax, coin money, declare war,

and regulate foreign and

interstate commerce.

But Congress's bread and butter

is writing and passing bills.


Getting a bill passed is no easy task.

A bill can originate in either the House

or the Senate.

But before it gets voted upon,

it goes through a series

of committees, and amendments,

and floor debates.

After a vote, it moves

to the other chamber, and the process


If the one chamber makes any edits

to a bill passed by the other,

it has to go back for another vote.

The House and Senate must vote to approve

the exact same bill before it

can move on.

If it fails to get a majority vote,

it has to be reintroduced.

If it passes, it goes to the president's

desk for approval.

If the president chooses

to veto a bill, which essentially voids

it, Congress can push back

the veto override.

But to do this, they needed 2/3 majority

vote in both houses.

Failing to pass legislation

is an inevitable part of congressional


Congress is the only branch of government

whose members are elected directly

by the people, and the only part

of government that tries to balance

the relationship between the power

of the nation and the individual states.