112th United States Congress
The One Hundred Twelfth United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, from January 3, 2011, until January 3, 2013. It convened in Washington, D. C. on January 3, 2011, ended on January 3, 2013, 17 days before the end of the presidential term to which Barack Obama was elected in 2008. Senators elected to regular terms in 2006 completed those terms in this Congress; this Congress included the last House of Representatives elected from congressional districts that were apportioned based on the 2000 census. In the 2010 midterm elections, the Republican Party won the majority in the House of Representatives. While the Democrats kept their Senate majority, it was reduced from the previous Congress; this was the first Congress in which the House and Senate were controlled by different parties since the 107th Congress, the first Congress to begin that way since the 99th Congress. It was the first Congress since the 36th Congress, over 150 years, in which the Republican Party held the House but not the Senate.
In this Congress, the House of Representatives had the largest number of Republican members, 242, since the 80th Congress. January 6, 2011: On the second day of the 112th Congress, the House of Representatives read a modified version of the U. S. Constitution, a first. January 8, 2011: 2011 Tucson shooting: Representative Gabrielle Giffords and nineteen other people were shot by a gunman in Tucson, Arizona. Six of them, including a federal judge and a congressional aide, died. Votes on the House floor were suspended for one week. January 25, 2011: 2011 State of the Union Address March 19, 2011: The United States initiated Operation Odyssey Dawn as part of the international military intervention in the Libyan Civil War; the intervention continued under the auspices of NATO as Operation Unified Protector until the end of military operations in October 2011. May 2, 2011: Navy Seals killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Operation Neptune Spear. April 9, 2011: A last-minute deal between both parties averts a partial shutdown of the federal government.
August 2, 2011: The 2011 debt-ceiling crisis ends with the Budget Control Act of 2011. December 18, 2011: The United States completed its withdrawal of troops from Iraq, formally ending the Iraq War. January 24, 2012: 2012 State of the Union Address June 28, 2012: In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act's constitutionality but found the expansion of Medicaid unconstitutionally coercive on the states. November 6, 2012: 2012 general elections, including: United States House of Representatives elections, 2012, in which Democrats gained eight seats, but not enough to retake the majority United States Senate elections, 2012, in which Democrats gained two seats in their majority United States presidential election, 2012, in which Barack Obama was re-elected to a second term December 14, 2012: The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting leaves 28 dead, prompts debate on gun control in the United States. January 1, 2013: United States fiscal cliff avoided.
A failure to pass a 2011 federal budget nearly led to a shutdown of non-essential government services on April 9, 2011, with the furlough of 800,000 government employees appearing imminent. President Obama met Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner in the days preceding the deadline but was unable to come to an agreement to pass a budget. A one-week budget was proposed to allow more time for negotiations. Obama said; this was backed by Senate Democrats who objected to such cuts as that of Planned Parenthood. However, an agreement was reached between the two parties for a one-week budget to allow for more time to negotiate after Republicans dropped their stance on the Planned Parenthood issue; the two parties agreed on a 2011 federal budget the following week. There were many reactions to the possible shutdown with some saying the economy could be hurt during a fragile recovery and others saying the lack of an unnecessary bureaucracy would not be noticed. There was criticism that while senators and representatives would continue to get paid others such as the police and military personnel would either not be paid for their work or have their payments deferred.
On August 2, 2011, the United States public debt was projected to reach its statutory maximum. Without an increase in that limit the U. S. Treasury would be unable to borrow money to pay its bills. Although previous statutory increases have been routine, conservative members of the House refused to allow an increase without drastically reducing government spending. Over several weeks and months, negotiators from both parties, both houses, the White House worked to forge a compromise; the compromise bill, the Budget Control Act of 2011, was enacted on August 2. April 15, 2011: 2011 United States federal budget, Pub. L. 112–10 August 2, 2011: Budget Control Act of 2011, Pub. L. 112–25 September 16, 2011: Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, Pub. L. 112–29 October 21, 2011: United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 112–41 October 21, 2011: United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 112–42 October 21, 2011: United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act, Pub.
L. 112–43 December 31, 2011: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, Pub. L. 112–81 February 22, 2012: Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. 112–96 March 8, 2012: Fed
Article One of the United States Constitution
Article One of the United States Constitution establishes the legislative branch of the federal government, the United States Congress. Under Article One, Congress is a bicameral legislature consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Article One grants Congress various enumerated powers and the ability to pass laws "necessary and proper" to carry out those powers. Article One establishes the procedures for passing a bill and places various limits on the powers of Congress and the states. Article One's Vesting Clause grants all federal legislative power to Congress and establishes that Congress consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. In combination with the Vesting Clauses of the Article Two and Article Three, the Vesting Clause of Article One establishes the separation of powers among the three branches of the federal government. Section 2 of Article One addresses the House of Representatives, establishing that members of the House are elected every two years, with congressional seats apportioned to the states on the basis of population.
Section 2 includes various rules for the House of Representatives, including a provision stating that individuals qualified to vote in elections for the largest chamber of their state's legislature have the right to vote in elections for the House of Representatives. Section 3 addresses the Senate, establishing that the Senate consists of two senators from each state, with each senator serving a six-year term. Section 3 required that the state legislatures elect the members of the Senate, but the Seventeenth Amendment, ratified in 1913, provides for the direct election of senators. Section 3 lays out various other rules for the Senate, including a provision that establishes the Vice President of the United States as the president of the Senate. Section 4 of Article One grants the states the power to regulate the congressional election process, but establishes that Congress can alter those regulations or make its own regulations. Section 4 requires Congress to assemble at least once per year.
Section 5 lays out various rules for both houses of Congress, grants the House of Representatives and the Senate the power to judge their own elections, determine the qualifications of their own members, punish or expel their own members. Section 6 establishes the compensation and restrictions of those holding congressional office. Section 7 lays out the procedures for passing a bill, requiring both houses of Congress to pass a bill for it to become law, subject to the veto power of the President of the United States. Under Section 7, the president can veto a bill, but Congress can override the president's veto with a two-thirds vote of both chambers. Section 8 lays out the powers of Congress, it includes several enumerated powers, including the power to lay and collect taxes and tariffs for the "general welfare" of the United States, the power to borrow money, the power to regulate interstate and international commerce, the power to set naturalization laws, the power to coin and regulate money, the power to establish federal courts inferior to the Supreme Court, the power to raise and support military forces, the power to declare war.
Section 8 provides Congress the power to establish a federal district to serve as the national capital, gives Congress the exclusive power to administer that district. In addition to various enumerated powers, Section 8 grants Congress the power to make laws necessary and proper to carry out its enumerated powers and other powers vested in it. Section 9 places various limits on the power of Congress, banning bills of attainder and other practices. Section 10 places limits on the states, prohibiting them from entering into alliances with foreign powers, impairing contracts, taxing imports or exports above the minimum level necessary for inspection, keeping armies, or engaging in war without the consent of Congress. 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. Section 1 is a vesting clause that bestows federal legislative power to Congress. Similar clauses are found in Articles II and III.
The former confers executive power upon the President alone, the latter grants judicial power to the federal judiciary. These three articles create a separation of powers among the three branches of the federal government; this separation of powers, by which each department may exercise only its own constitutional powers and no others, is fundamental to the idea of a limited government accountable to the people. The separation of powers principle is noteworthy in regard to the Congress; the Constitution declares that the Congress may exercise only those legislative powers "herein granted" within Article I. It by implied extension, prohibits Congress from delegating its legislative authority to either of the other branches of government, a rule known as the nondelegation doctrine. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that Congress does have latitude to delegate regulatory powers to executive agencies as long as it provides an "intelligible principle" which governs the agency's exercise of the delegated regulatory authority.
That the power assigned to each branch must remain with that branch, may be expressed only by that branch, is central to the theory. The nondelegation doctrine is used now as a way of interpreting a congressional delegation of authority narrowly, in that the courts presume Congress intended only to delegate that which it could have, unless it demonstrates it intended to "test the waters" of what the courts would allow it to do. Although not mentioned in the Constitution, Congress has long asserted the power to i
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper chamber. Together they compose the legislature of the United States; the composition of the House is established by Article One of the United States Constitution. The House is composed of Representatives who sit in congressional districts that are allocated to each of the 50 states on a basis of population as measured by the U. S. Census, with each district entitled to one representative. Since its inception in 1789, all Representatives have been directly elected; the total number of voting representatives is fixed by law at 435. As of the 2010 Census, the largest delegation is that of California, with fifty-three representatives. Seven states have only one representative: Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming; the House is charged with the passage of federal legislation, known as bills, after concurrence by the Senate, are sent to the President for consideration.
In addition to this basic power, the House has certain exclusive powers, among them the power to initiate all bills related to revenue. The House meets in the south wing of the United States Capitol; the presiding officer is the Speaker of the House, elected by the members thereof. The Speaker and other floor leaders are chosen by the Democratic Caucus or the Republican Conference, depending on whichever party has more voting members. Under the Articles of Confederation, the Congress of the Confederation was a unicameral body in which each state was represented, in which each state had a veto over most action. After eight years of a more limited confederal government under the Articles, numerous political leaders such as James Madison and Alexander Hamilton initiated the Constitutional Convention in 1787, which received the Confederation Congress's sanction to "amend the Articles of Confederation". All states except Rhode Island agreed to send delegates; the issue of how to structure Congress was one of the most divisive among the founders during the Convention.
Edmund Randolph's Virginia Plan called for a bicameral Congress: the lower house would be "of the people", elected directly by the people of the United States and representing public opinion, a more deliberative upper house, elected by the lower house, that would represent the individual states, would be less susceptible to variations of mass sentiment. The House is referred to as the lower house, with the Senate being the upper house, although the United States Constitution does not use that terminology. Both houses' approval is necessary for the passage of legislation; the Virginia Plan drew the support of delegates from large states such as Virginia and Pennsylvania, as it called for representation based on population. The smaller states, favored the New Jersey Plan, which called for a unicameral Congress with equal representation for the states; the Convention reached the Connecticut Compromise or Great Compromise, under which one house of Congress would provide representation proportional to each state's population, whereas the other would provide equal representation amongst the states.
The Constitution was ratified by the requisite number of states in 1788, but its implementation was set for March 4, 1789. The House began work on April 1789, when it achieved a quorum for the first time. During the first half of the 19th century, the House was in conflict with the Senate over regionally divisive issues, including slavery; the North was much more populous than the South, therefore dominated the House of Representatives. However, the North held no such advantage in the Senate, where the equal representation of states prevailed. Regional conflict was most pronounced over the issue of slavery. One example of a provision supported by the House but blocked by the Senate was the Wilmot Proviso, which sought to ban slavery in the land gained during the Mexican–American War. Conflict over slavery and other issues persisted until the Civil War, which began soon after several southern states attempted to secede from the Union; the war culminated in the abolition of slavery. All southern senators except Andrew Johnson resigned their seats at the beginning of the war, therefore the Senate did not hold the balance of power between North and South during the war.
The years of Reconstruction that followed witnessed large majorities for the Republican Party, which many Americans associated with the Union's victory in the Civil War and the ending of slavery. The Reconstruction period ended in about 1877; the Democratic Party and Republican Party each held majorities in the House at various times. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw a dramatic increase in the power of the Speaker of the House; the rise of the Speaker's influence began in the 1890s, during the tenure of Republican Thomas Brackett Reed. "Czar Reed", as he was nicknamed, attempted to put into effect his view that "The best system is to have one party govern and the other party watch." The leadership structure of the House developed during the same period, with the positions of Majority Leader and Minority Leader being created in 1899. While the Minority Leader