Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

  • Explain the responsibilities of Congress to the American people and its relationship with the other institutions of government.
  • Describe the powers granted to Congress by the Constitution, how Congress uses these powers, and the situations in which Congress would carry out or extend these powers.
  • Explain how the historical context that produced the current congressional structure creates a complex lawmaking process.
  • Identify the key players and the critical building blocks that allow Congress to function effectively.
  • Understand how Congress builds enough agreement among members to ensure coherent action.
  • Explain the idealized version of how a bill becomes a law and how Congress adopts an annual budget.