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Powers Of The Congress

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Powers of the Congress

Although the President of the United States has many powers our government is based on a series of checks and balances. There are a lot of ways that the Legislative Branch can check the President. One way is to stop a bill the President wants to pass by the opposing party. For example, a Senator can filibuster until the rest of the Senate gives in and kills the bill. If Congress wants to direct money to a project, they can earmark a bill. It is becoming somewhat of a problem because the bill may be good but the earmarks that come with it may make it too costly. Even though the Legislative Branch can check the President in many ways, these are very useful in the lawmaking process.

A filibuster is an attempt to extend a debate on a bill in order to delay or completely prevent a vote. Filibustering, which means "pirating", can only happen in the Senate because the rules permit a Senator, or a series of Senators, to speak for as long as they want on any topic they choose. They don't confine the discussion to things that are germane to the bill being debated. There have been some cases where a Senator would begin reading from a telephone directory. Strom Thurmond set a record in 1957 by filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for 24 hours and 18 minutes. The bill ultimately passed because the governing party left the debated issue on the agenda indefinitely. Filibustering is effective because if a Senator wishes to vote, he/she must stay for the entire debate or else they lose their vote. It doesn't only put a stain on the voters but the filibustering Senator as well. As soon as they stop talking or leave for a bathroom break, their turn is up. If Senators want to end a filibuster, they can by invoking cloture. A sixth of the Senators would initiate a petition to do this and sixty Senators would have to agree. Then the Senator would be limited to an hour of speaking time. Filibusters have become a lot more common in recent decades. Over twice as many filibusters took place between 1991-2000 legislative sessions as in the entire nineteenth century.

There are mixtures of purposes to allow members of Congress the ability to earmark funds. For a member of Congress, the earmark



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