Before we begin to fully engage in a dialogue about how to obtain an upgrade in the small business & disadvantaged business PRIME CONTRACT goals and gain MANDATORY government agency compliance with “teeth” in the codification; we must first briefly discuss the process by which our laws are made. This will help us to better communicate our expectations to our Congressional Representative, and also better manage our own expectations.
The framers of our Constitution created a strong federal government resting on the concept of ‘‘separation of powers.’’ In Article I, Section 1, of the Constitution, the Legislative Branch is created by the following language: ‘‘All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.’’ In furtherance of this empowerment, Article I, Section 5, of the Constitution authorizes each House to determine its own rules.
Upon this elegant, yet simple, grant of legislative powers and rulemaking authority has grown an exceedingly complex and evolving legislative processes much of it unique to each House of Congress.
The legislative process is a matter about which every citizen should be well informed in order to understand and appreciate the work of Congress. One of the most practical safeguards of the American democratic way of life is this legislative process with its emphasis on the protection of the minority, allowing ample opportunity to all sides to be heard and make their views known.
The Senate is composed of 100 Members—two from each state, regardless of population or area—elected by the people in accordance with the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. Each Senator has one vote.
As constituted in the 105th Congress, the House of Representatives is composed of 435 Members elected every two years from among the 50 states, apportioned to their total populations. The Constitution limits the number of Representatives to not more than one for every 30,000 of population. Each Representative has one vote.
Under the provisions of Section 2 of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, Congress must assemble at least once every year, at noon on the 3rd day of January, unless by law they appoint a different day. A Congress lasts for two years, commencing in January of the year following the biennial election of Members. A Congress is divided into two sessions.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have equal legislative functions and powers. However, the Constitution provides that only the House of Representatives originate revenue bills. By tradition, the House also originates appropriation bills. The Constitution authorizes each House to determine the rules of its proceedings. Pursuant to that authority, the House of Representatives adopts its rules on the opening day of each Congress. The Senate considers itself a continuing body and operates under continuous standing rules that it amends from time to time.
The chief function of Congress is the making of laws.
In addition, the Senate has the function of advising and consenting to treaties and to certain nominations by the President.