The US Congress
in US politics today (fourth edition)
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Chapter 2 details the powers of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. These include the passage of legislation, oversight of the executive, the capacity to declare war, the ‘power of the purse’, and impeachment. The chapter compares the two chambers and notes the defining features of both, in particular the rules requiring super-majorities in the Senate. The chapter assesses the process of partisan polarisation from the 1970s onwards and the ways in which this has inhibited the passage of legislation and the confirmation of federal court judges and federal government officials. The chapter suggests that Congress faces challenges if considered as a legislature and in terms of its record in scrutinising the work of the executive branch but has been much more effective in its handling of individual and constituency grievances in the states and districts.

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