Article I of the U.S. Constitution establishes the U.S. Congress, detailing the requirements to serve in each house of the legislature and the powers granted to Congress. The main powers of Congress, called the "enumerated powers" are listed in Article I, Section 8. Articles II, III, IV and V list other powers and responsibilities of Congress, as do several constitutional amendments.
In addition to broad legislative power, the enumerated powers of Congress include the right to tax, to borrow on behalf of the U.S., to regulate international and interstate commerce, to coin and regulate money, to override presidential vetoes with a two-thirds vote in both houses, to declare war and to establish and maintain national military forces. Many of these powers have checks and balances from the executive and judicial branches of government.
Powers in Relation to the Other Branches
Article II of the Constitution deals primarily with the executive branch of government. It also includes congressional powers related to the executive branch, including the power to determine the time of choosing members for the Electoral College and the Senate's responsibility to advise and consent to presidential nominations. Article III of the Constitution deals with the judicial branch and grants Congress the power to establish lesser courts – that is, at a lower hierarchical level than the Supreme Court. It also grants Congress sole authority to declare punishments for treason.
Admitting and Amending
Article IV of the Constitution grants Congress the power to admit new states into the union, with the stipulation that existing states can't be broken up or combined with other states without the approval of the respective states' legislatures. Article V details two methods by which the Constitution may be amended, one of which begins with supermajority – two-thirds – votes in both houses of Congress.
Powers Granted in Amendments
Several amendments to the Constitution specifically grant Congress the power to enact legislation to enforce its mandates. These include the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, which were passed to ensure the rights of recently-freed slaves and the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote. In addition, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution grants Congress the power to tax all sources of income without the need to conduct a special census.
- The Charters of Freedom: Constitution of the United States
- The Charters of Freedom: Bill of Rights
- The Charters of Freedom: The Constitution: Amendments 11-27
- The University of Missouri, Kansas City: The Reach of Congressional Power: Specific Article I and IV Powers
- Whitehouse.gov: Legislative Branch
Dell Markey is a full-time journalist. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business.