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H.Doc.108-95 THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ...


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108th Congress                                                  H. Doc.
 1st Session                                                     108-94
_______________________________________________________________________
 
                             OUR AMERICAN GOVERNMENT


                              2003 Edition


<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>


        Printed by authority of H. Con. Res. 139, 108th Congress

H. Con. Res. 139                                 Agreed to June 20, 2003

                      One Hundred Eighth Congress

                                 of the

                        United States of America

                          AT THE FIRST SESSION

Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday, the seventh day of 
                    January, two thousand and three

                         Concurrent Resolution

    Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate 
concurring),

SEC. 2. OUR AMERICAN GOVERNMENT.

    (a) In General.--The 2003 revised edition of the brochure 
entitled ``Our American Government'' shall be printed as a 
House document under the direction of the Joint Committee on 
Printing.
    (b) Additional Copies.--In addition to the usual number, 
there shall be printed the lesser of--
          (1) 550,000 copies of the document, of which 440,000 
        copies shall be for the use of the House of 
        Representatives, 100,000 copies shall be for the use of 
        the Senate, and 10,000 copies shall be for the use of 
        the Joint Committee on Printing; or
          (2) such number of copies of the document as does not 
        exceed a total production and printing cost of 
        $454,160, with distribution to be allocated in the same 
        proportion as described in paragraph (1), except that 
        in no case shall the number of copies be less than 1 
        per Member of Congress.

Attest:
                                             Jeff Trandahl,
                             Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Attest:
                                         Emily J. Reynolds,
                                           Secretary of the Senate.







                            C O N T E N T S

                                                                   Page
Foreword.........................................................     V
Democracy and Its American Interpretation........................     1
The Constitution.................................................     2
The Legislative Branch...........................................     6
The Congress.....................................................     6
    Members, Offices, and Staff..................................     6
    Congressional Process and Powers.............................    21
    Congressional Rules and Procedures...........................    24
    The Committee System.........................................    33
The Executive Branch.............................................    38
    The President and Vice President.............................    40
    The Executive Departments and Agencies.......................    50
The Independent Agencies and Commissions.........................    52
The Judicial Branch..............................................    53
    The Courts of the United States..............................    53
    The Justices and Judges......................................    55
The Electoral Process............................................    56
Information Resources............................................    62

                               Appendices

Glossary of Legislative Terms....................................    71
Selective Bibliography and References............................    78
State Population and House Apportionment.........................    81
House and Senate Political Divisions.............................    83
The Declaration of Independence..................................    85
Constitution of the United States................................    89
    Amendments to the Constitution...............................   101
    Proposed Amendments to the Constitution Not Ratified by the 
      States.....................................................   117
Index............................................................   121







                                FOREWORD

    The Committee on House Administration is pleased to present 
this revised book on our United States Government.

    This publication continues to be a popular introductory 
guide for American citizens and those of other countries who 
seek a greater understanding of our heritage of democracy. The 
question-and-answer format covers a broad range of topics 
dealing with the legislative, executive, and judicial branches 
of our Government as well as the electoral process and the role 
of political parties.

<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>

Robert W. Ney,                                  Saxby Chambliss,
    Chairman.                                     Vice Chairman.








                        OUR AMERICAN GOVERNMENT

                              ----------                              


               DEMOCRACY AND ITS AMERICAN INTERPRETATION

1. What is the purpose of the U.S. Government?
    The purpose is expressed in the preamble to the 
Constitution: ``We the People of the United States, in Order to 
form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic 
Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the 
general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to 
ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this 
Constitution for the United States of America.''
2. What form of government do we have in the United States?
    The United States, under its Constitution, is a federal, 
representative, democratic republic, an indivisible union of 50 
sovereign States. With the exception of town meetings, a form 
of pure democracy, we have at the local, state, and national 
levels a government which is: ``federal'' because power is 
shared among these three levels; ``democratic'' because the 
people govern themselves and have the means to control the 
government; and ``republic'' because the people choose elected 
delegates by free and secret ballot.
3. What is the role of the citizen in our Government?
    The United States today is even more of a participatory 
democracy than was envisioned by the Founders when they 
established a government ``of the people, by the people, and 
for the people,'' as President Abraham Lincoln later described 
it. Along with the constitutional responsibilities which 
accompany citizenship, such as obeying laws and paying taxes, 
the citizen is afforded a wide range of rights and 
opportunities to influence the making of public policy by the 
Government.

    At the most basic level, the right to vote gives the 
citizen a chance to help select those who will ultimately be 
responsible for determining public policy. Beyond casting the 
ballot, a citizen may actively assist in nominating and 
electing preferred public officials through volunteer 
activities and campaign donations. The participation of 
citizens in the electoral process contributes greatly to the 
sense of legitimacy of the Government.

    Citizen involvement in the Government need not be 
manifested only during election campaigns. Legislators are 
accustomed to hearing from constituents expressing opinions 
about issues of the day, and procedures exist that mandate that 
executive agencies allow time for public comment before 
proposed regulations become final. Individuals may also join 
with others who hold similar views to make the most of their 
influence with Government on particular issues; this is how 
interest groups or political action committees are established 
and the lobbying process begins.
4. What contributions has our country made to the institution of 
        government?
    Some of the U.S. contributions to the institution of 
government are as follows: a written constitution, an 
independent judiciary to interpret the Constitution, and a 
division of powers between the Federal and State Governments.

                            THE CONSTITUTION

5. What is the Constitution?
    The Constitution is the basic and supreme law of the United 
States. It prescribes the structure of the U.S. Government, 
provides the legal foundation on which all its actions must 
rest, and enumerates and guarantees the rights due all its 
citizens.

    The Constitution is a document prepared by a convention of 
delegates from 12 of the 13 States that met at Philadelphia in 
1787. The original charter, which replaced the Articles of 
Confederation and which became operative in 1789, established 
the United States as a federal union of States, a 
representative democracy within a republic. The framers 
provided a Government of three independent branches. The first 
is the legislature, which comprises a two-house or bicameral 
Congress consisting of a Senate, whose Members are apportioned 
equally among the States, and a House of Representatives, whose 
Members are apportioned among the States according to 
population. The second, the executive branch, includes the 
President and Vice President and all subordinate officials of 
the executive departments and executive agencies. The third 
branch, the judiciary, consists of the Supreme Court and 
various subordinate Federal courts created by public law.

    The 27 amendments approved since 1791 are also an integral 
part of the Constitution. These include amendments 1 through 
10, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, and amendments 11 
through 27, which address a wide range of subjects. At the 
present time, four amendments without ratification deadlines 
are pending before the States. These deal with congressional 
apportionment, child labor, titles of nobility from foreign 
powers, and certain States rights (in a pre-Civil War 
proposal). In addition, the ratification deadlines expired on 
two proposed amendments, which had been approved by Congress in 
the 1970s: i.e., equal rights for women and men and voting 
representation for the District of Columbia in the Senate and 
House.
6. What were the basic principles on which the Constitution was framed?
    The framers of the Constitution debated and agreed to the 
following six basic principles:

          1. That all States would be equal. The National 
        Government cannot give special privileges to one State.

          2. That there should be three branches of 
        Government--one to make the laws, another to execute 
        them, and a third to interpret them.

          3. That the Government is a government of laws, not 
        of men. No one is above the law. No officer of the 
        Government can use authority unless and except as the 
        Constitution or public law permits.

          4. That all men are equal before the law and that 
        anyone, rich or poor, can demand the protection of the 
        law.

          5. That the people can change the authority of the 
        Government by changing (amending) the Constitution. 
        (One such change provided for the election of Senators 
        by direct popular vote instead of by State 
        legislatures).

          6. That the Constitution, and the laws of the United 
        States and treaties made pursuant to it, are ``the 
        supreme Law of the Land.''

7. What is the Bill of Rights?

    The Bill of Rights is a series of constitutionally 
protected rights of citizens. The first 10 amendments to the 
Constitution, ratified by the required number of States on 
December 15, 1791, are commonly referred to as the Bill of 
Rights. The first eight amendments set out or enumerate the 
substantive and procedural individual rights associated with 
that description. The 9th and 10th amendments are general rules 
of interpretation of the relationships among the people, the 
State governments, and the Federal Government. The ninth 
amendment provides that the ``enumeration in the Constitution, 
of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage 
others retained by the people.'' The 10th amendment reads: 
``The powers not delegated to the United States by the 
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved 
to the States respectively, or to the people.''

8. What are the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights?

          Right to freedom of religion, speech, and press 
        (Amendment I);

          Right to assemble peaceably, and to petition the 
        Government for a redress of grievances (Amendment I);

          Right to keep and bear arms in common defense 
        (Amendment II);

          Right not to have soldiers quartered in one's home in 
        peacetime without the consent of the owner, nor in time 

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