Реферат: Правительство Соединенных Штатов

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Kyrgyz StateNational University


<span Copperplate Gothic Bold",«sans-serif»; mso-bidi-font-family:«Courier New»;mso-ansi-language:EN-US">THE GOVERNMENT OFTHE UNITED STATES


Ilebaev Emil                    

Kasymov Maksat_________          

Bishkek 2001


In July 1780 France's Louis XVI had sent to America an expeditionaryforce of 6,000 men under the Comte Jean de Rochambeau. In addition, the Frenchfleet harassed British shipping and prevented reinforcement and resuppi^ ofBritish forces in Virginia by a British fleet sailing from New York City.French and American armies and navies, total­ing 18,000 men, parried withCornwallis all through the summer and into the fall. Finally, on October 19,17B1, after being trapped at Yorktown near the mouth of Chesa-peake Bay,Cornwallis surrendered his army of 8,000 British soldiers.

Although Cornwallis's defeat did not immediately end the war — whichwould drag on inconclusively for almost two more years — a new Britishgovernment decided to pursue peace negotiations in Paris in early 1782, withthe American side represented by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Jay. OnApril 15, 1783, Congress approved the final treaty, and Great Britain and itsformer colonies signed it on September 3. Known as the Treaty of Paris, thepeace settlement acknowledged the indepen­dence, freedom and sovereignty of the13 former colonies, now states, to which Great Britain granted the territorywest to the Mississippi River, north to Canada and south to Florida, which wasreturned to Spain. The fledgling colonies that Richard Henry Lee had spoken ofmore than seven years before, had finally become «free and indepen­dentstates.» The task of knitting together a nation yet remained.

<span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><span Times New Roman",«serif»; mso-ansi-language:EN-US"><span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-ansi-language: EN-US">CONSTITUTION

During the war, the states had agreed to work together by sendingrepresentatives to a national congress patterned after the «Congress ofDelegates» that conducted the war with England. It would raise money topay off debts of the war, establish a money system and deal with foreignnations in making treaties. The agreement that set up this plan of cooperationwas called the Articles of Confederation. work together? They believed that theCongress needed more power.

The plan for the government was written in very simple language in adocument called the Constitution of the United Slates. The Constitution set upa federal system with a strong central government. A federal system is one inwhich power is shared between a central authority and its constituent parts,with some rights reserved to each. The Constitution also called for theelection of a national leader, or president.

Two main fears shared by most Americans: one fear was that one person orgroup, including the majority, might become too powerful or be able to seizecontrol of the country and create a tyranny, another fear was that the newcentral government might weaken or take away the power of the state governmentsto run their own affairs. To deal with this the Constitution specified exactlywhat power central government had and which power was reserved for the states.

Representatives of various states noted that the Constitution did nothave any words guaranteeing the freedoms or the basic rights and privileges ofcitizens. Though the Convention delegates did not think it necessary to includesuch explicit guarantees, many people felt that they needed further writtenprotection against tyranny. So, a «Bill of Rights» was added to theConstitution.

The Bill of Rights

Thefirst 10 amendments to the Constitution and their purpose


Amendment 1

Freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly; the right to petition government


Amendment 2

Right to bear arms and maintain state militias (National Guard).

Amendment 3

Troops may not be quartered in homes in peacetime.


Amendment 4

No unreasonable searches or seizures.

Amendment 5

Grand jury indictment required to prosecute a person for a serious crime. No “double jeopardy” – being tried twice for the same offence. Forcing a person to testify against himself or herself prohibited. No loss of life, liberty or property without due process.

Amendment 6

Right to speedy, public, impartial trial with defense counsel, and right to cross-examine witnesses.

Amendment 7

Jury trials in civil suits where value exceeds 20 dollars.

Amendment 8

No excessive bail or fines, no cruel and unusual punishments.


Amendment 9

Unlisted rights are not necessarily denied.

Amendment 10

Powers not delegated to the United States or denied to states are reserved to the states or to the people.

TheBill of Rights was ratified in1791, but its application as broadened significantlyby the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which was ratified in1868. A key phrase in the 14th Amendment – “nor shall any statedeprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law” –has been interpreted by the Supreme Court as forbidding the states fromviolating most of the rights and freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights.


Ata time when all the major European states had heredi­tary monarchs, the idea ofa president with a limited term of office was itself revolutionary. TheConstitution vests the ex­ecutive power in the president. It also provides forthe election of a vice president who succeeds to the presidency in case of thedeath, resignation or incapacitation of the president. While the Constitutionspells out in some detail the duties and powers of the president, it does notdelegate any specific exec­utive powers to the vice president or to members ofthe presi­dential Cabinet or to other federal officials.

Creationof a powerful unitary presidency was the source of some contention in theConstitutional Convention. Several states had had experience with executivecouncils made up of several members, a system that had been followed with con­siderablesuccess by the Swiss for some years. And Benjamin Franklin urged that a similarsystem be adopted by the United States. Moreover, many delegates, stillsmarting under the excesses of executive power wielded by the British king,were wary of a powerful presidency. Nonetheless, advocates of a singlepresident—operating under strict checks and balances—carried the day.

Inaddition to a right of succession, the vice president was made the presidingofficer of the Senate. A constitutional amendment adopted in 1967 amplifies theprocess of presi­dential succession. It describes the specific conditions underwhich the vice president is empowered to take over the office of president ifthe president should become incapacitated. It also provides for resumption ofthe office by the president in the event of his or her recovery. In addition,the amendment enables the president to name a vice president, with congres­sionalapproval, when the second office is vacated. This 25th Amendment to theConstitution was put into practice twice in 1974: when Vice President Spiro T.Agnew resigned and was replaced by Gerald R. Ford; and when, after PresidentRichard Nixon's resignation, President Ford nominated and Congress confirmedformer New York governor Nelson A. Rockefeller as vice president.

TheConstitution gives Congress the power to establish the order of successionafter the vice president. At present, in the event both the president and vicepresident vacate their offices, the speaker of the House of Representativeswould as­sume the presidency. Next comes the president pro tempore of the Senate (a senator elected by that body topreside in the absence of the vice president), and then Cabinet officers indesignated order.

Theseat of government, which moved in 1800 to Wash­ington, D.C. (the District ofColumbia), is a federal enclave on the eastern seaboard. The White House, bothresidence and office of the president, is located there. Although land for thefederal capital was ceded by the states of Maryland and Vir­ginia, the presentDistrict of Columbia occupies only the area given by Maryland; the Virginiasector, unused by the govern­ment for half a century, reverted to Virginia in1846.



Elected by the people, through the electoral college, to a four-year term; limited to two terms.


$200,000 plus $50,000 allowance for expenses, and up to $100,000 tax-free for travel and official entertainment


January 20, following the November general election


Native-born American citizen, at least 35 years old and at least 14 years a resident of the United States.


To protect the Constitution and enforce the laws made by the Congress.


To recommend legislation to the Congress; to call special sessions of the Congress; to deliver messages to the Congress; to veto bills; to appoint federal judges; to appoint heads of federal departments and agencies and other principal federal officials; to appoint representatives to foreign countries; to carry on official business with foreign nations; to exercise the function of commander-in-chief of the armed forces; to grant pardons for offenses against the United States.

TheConstitution requires the president to be a native-born American citizen atleast 35 years of age. Candidates for the presidency are chosen by politicalparties several months before the presidential election, which is held everyfour years (in years divisible evenly by four) on the first Tuesday after thefirst Monday in November.

Themethod of electing the president is peculiar to the American system. Althoughthe names of the candidates ap­pear on the ballots, technically the people ofeach state do not vote directly for the president (and vice president).Instead, they select a slate of presidential electors, equal to the num­ber ofsenators and representatives each state has in Con­gress. The candidate withthe highest number of votes in each state wins all the electoral votes of thatstate.

The electors of all 50 states and theDistrict of Colum­bia—a total of 538 persons—compose what is known as theElectoral College. Under the terms of the Constitution, the College never meetsas a body. Instead, the electors gather in the state capitals shortly after theelection and cast their votes for the candidate with the largest number ofpopular votes in their respective states. To be successful, a candidate for thepresidency must receive 270 votes. The Constitution stipu­lates that if nocandidate has a majority, the decision shall be made by the House ofRepresentatives, with all members from a state voting as a unit. In this event,each state and the Dis­trict of Columbia would be allotted one vote only.

Thepresidential term of four years begins on January 20 (it was changed from Marchby the 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933) following a November election. Thepresi­dent starts his or her official duties with an inauguration ceremony,traditionally held on the steps of the U.S. Capi­tol, where Congress meets'.The president publicly takes an oath of office, which is traditionallyadministered by the chief justice of the United States. The words areprescribed in Article II of the Constitution:

/ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I willfaithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will tothe best of my ability, preserve,protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The oath-taking ceremony is usuallyfollowed by an inau­gural address in which the new president outlines thepolicies and plans of his or her administration.


The office ofPresident of the United States is one of the most powerful in the world. Thepresident, the Constitution says, must «take care that the laws befaithfully executed.» To carry out this responsibility, he or she presidesover the executive branch of the federal government—a vast organization num­beringseveral million people—and in addition has important legislative and judicialpowers.


Despite theConstitutional provision that «all legislative powers» shall bevested in the Congress, the president, as the chief formulator of publicpolicy, has a major legislative role. The president can veto any bill passed byCongress and, un­less two-thirds in each house vote to override the veto, thebill does not become law. Much of the legislation dealt with by Congress isdrafted at the initiative of the executive branch. In an annual and specialmessages to Congress, the president may propose legislation he or she believesis necessary. If Congress should adjourn without acting on those proposals, thepresident has the power to call it into special session. But, beyond all this,the president, as head of a political party and as principal executive officerof the U.S. government, is in a position to influence public opinion and therebyto influence the course of legislation in Congress. To improve their workingrelationships with Congress, presidents in recent years have set up aCongressional Liaison Office in the White House. Presidential aides keepabreast of all important legislative ac­tivities and try to persuade senatorsand representatives of both parties to support administration policies.


Among the president's constitutional powers is that of ap­pointingimportant public officials; presidential nomination of federal judges,including members of the Supreme Court, is subject to confirmation by theSenate. Another significant power is that of granting a full or conditionalpardon to anyone convicted of breaking a federal law—except in a case of im­peachment.The pardoning power has come to embrace the power to shorten prison terms andreduce fines.


Within the executivebranch itself, the president has broad powers to manage national affairs andthe workings of the fed­eral government. The president can issue rules,regulations and instructions called executive orders, which have the bindingforce of law upon federal agencies. As commander-in-chief of the armed forcesof the United States, the presi­dent may also call into federal service thestate units of the National Guard. In times of war or national emergency, theCongress may grant the president even broader powers to manage the nationaleconomy and protect the security of the United States.

Thepresident chooses the heads of all executive de­partments and agencies,together with hundreds of other high-ranking federal officials. The largemajority of federal workers, however, are selected through the Civil Servicesystem, in which appointment and promotion are based on ability and experience


Under theConstitution, the president is the federal official pri­marily responsible forthe relations of the United States with foreign nations. Presidents appointambassadors, ministers and consuls—subject to confirmation by the Senate—and re­ceiveforeign ambassadors and other public officials. With the secretary of state,the president manages all official contacts with foreign governments. Onoccasion, the president may personally participate in summit conferences wherechiefs of state meet for direct consultation. Thus, President Woodrow Wilsonheaded the American delegation to the Paris conference

atthe end of World War I; President Franklin D. Roosevelt con­ferred with Alliedleaders at sea, in Africa and in Asia during World War II; and every presidentsince Roosevelt has met with world statesmen to discuss economic and politicalissues, and to reach bilateral and multilateral agreements.

Through the Department of State, the president is re­sponsible forthe protection of Americans abroad and of for­eign nationals in the UnitedStates. Presidents decide whether to recognize new nations and new governments,and negotiate treaties with other nations, which are binding on the UnitedStates when approved by two-thirds of the Senate. The presi­dent may alsonegotiate «executive agreements» with foreign powers that are notsubject to Senate confirmation.


Because of the vastarray of presidential roles and re­sponsibilities, coupled with a conspicuouspresence on the national and international scene, political analysts havetended to place great emphasis on the president's powers. Some have even spokenof the «the imperial presidency,» referring to the expanded role ofthe office that Franklin D. Roosevelt maintained during his term.

Oneof the first sobering realities a new president discov­ers is an inheritedbureaucratic structure which is difficult to manage and slow to changedirection. Power to appoint ex-  ' tendsonly to some 3,000 people out of a civilian government ' work force of morethan three million, most of whom are pro­tected in their jobs by Civil Serviceregulations.

Thepresident finds that the machinery of government operates pretty muchindependently of presidential interven­tions, has done so through earlieradministrations, and will continue to do so in the future. New presidents areimmediate­ly confronted with a backlog of decisions from the outgoing ad­ministrationon issues that are often complex and unfamiliar. They inherit a budgetformulated and enacted into law long before they came to office, as well asmajor spending programs (such as veterans' benefits. Social Security paymentsand Medicare for the elderly), which are mandated by law and not subject toinfluence. In foreign affairs, presidents must conform with treaties andinformal agreements negotiated by their predecessors.

Thehappy euphoria of the post-election «honeymoon» quickly dissipates,and the new president discovers that Con­gress has become less cooperative andthe media more criti­cal. The president is forced to build at least temporaryalli­ances among diverse, often antagonistic interests—econom­ic, geographic,ethnic and ideological. Compromises with Con­gress must be struck if anylegislation is to be adopted. «It is very easy to defeat a bill inCongress,» lamented President John F. Kennedy. «It is much moredifficult to pass one.»

Despitethese burdensome constraints, few presidents have turned down the chance to runfor a second term of of­fice. Every president achieves at least some of hislegislative goals and prevents by veto the enactment of other laws he be­lievesnot to be in the nation's best interests. The president's authority in theconduct of war and peace, including the nego­tiation of treaties, issubstantial. Moreover, the president can use his unique position to articulateideas and advocate poli­cies, which then have a better chance of entering thepublic consciousness than those held by his political rivals. When a presidentraises an issue, it inevitably becomes subject to public debate. A president'spower and influence may be limit­ed, but they are also greater than those ofany other American, in or out of office.


The day-to-dayenforcement and administration of federal laws is in the hands of the variousexecutive departments, cre­ated by Congress to deal with specific areas ofnational and in­ternational affairs. The heads of the departments, chosen bythe president and approved by the Senate, form a council of advisers generallyknown as the president's «Cabinet.» In addition to 14 departments,there are a number of staff organiza­tions grouped into the Executive Office ofthe President. These include the White House staff, the National SecurityCouncil, the Office of Management and Budget, the Council of Econom­icAdvisers, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the Office ofScience and Technology.

TheConstitution makes no provision for a presidential Cabinet. It does providethat the president may ask opinions, in writing, from the principal officer ineach of the executive departments on any subject in their area ofresponsibility, but it does not name the departments nor describe their duties.Similarly, there are no specific constitutional qualifications for service inthe Cabinet.

TheCabinet developed outside the Constitution as a mat­ter of practical necessity,for even in George Washington's day it was an absolute impossibility for thepresident to discharge his duties without advice and assistance. Cabinets arewhat any particular president makes them. Some presidents have relied heavilyon them for advice, others lightly, and some few have largely ignored them.Whether or not Cabinet members act as advisers, they retain the responsibility fordirecting the activities of the government in specific areas of concern.

Eachdepartment has thousands of employees, with of­fices throughout the country aswell as in Washington. The de­partments are divided into divisions, bureaus,offices and ser­vices, each with specific duties.


(All departments are headed by a secretary, except the Justice Department, which is headed by the attorney general.)


Created in 1862


Created in 1903. The Department of Commerce and Labor split into two separate departments in 1913.


Amalgamated in 1947. The Department of Defense was established by combining, the Department of War (established in 1789), the Department of the Navy (established in 1798) and the Department of the Air Force (established in 1947). Although the secretary of defense is a member of the Cabinet, the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force are not.


Created in 1979. Formerly part of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.


Created in 1977.


Created in 1979, when the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (created in 1953) was split into separate entities.


Created in 1965.


Created in 1849


Created in 1870. Between 1789 and 1870, the attorney general was a member of the Cabinet, but not the head of a department.


Created in 1913


Created in 1789.


Created in 1966.


Created in 1789


Created in 1988. Formerly the Veterans Administration, now elevated to Cabinet level


The Department ofAgriculture (USDA) supervises agricultur­al production to ensure fair pricesand stable markets for pro­ducers and consumers, works to improve and maintainfarm income, and helps to develop and expand markets abroad for agriculturalproducts. The department attempts to curb pov­erty, hunger and malnutrition byissuing food stamps to the poor; sponsoring educational programs on nutrition;and ad­ministering other food assistance programs, primarily for children,expectant mothers and the elderly. It maintains pro­duction capacity by helpinglandowners protect the soil, water, forests and other natural resources. USDAadministers rural development, credit and conservation programs that aredesigned to implement national growth policies, and con­ducts scientific andtechnological research in all areas of agri­culture. Through its inspection andgrading services, USDA ensures standards of quality in food offered for sale.The de­partment also promotes agricultural research by maintaining the NationalAgricultural Library, the second largest govern­ment library in the world. (TheU.S. Library of Congress is first.) The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)serves as an export promotion and service agency for U.S. agriculture,employing specialists abroad who make surveys of foreign ag­riculture for U.S.farm and business interests. The U.S. Forest Service, also part of thedepartment, administers an extensive network of national forests and wildernessareas.


The Department ofCommerce serves to promote the nation's international trade, economic growthand technological ad­vancement. It offers assistance and information toincrease America's competitiveness in the world economy; administers programsto prevent unfair foreign trade competition; and provides social and economicstatistics and analyses for busi­ness and government planners. The departmentcomprises a diverse array of agencies. The National Bureau of Standards, forexample, conducts scientific and technical research, and maintains physicalmeasurement systems for industry and government. The National Oceanic andAtmospheric Adminis­tration (NOAA), which includes the National WeatherService, works to improve understanding of the physical environment and oceanicresources. The Patent and Trademark Office grants patents and registerstrademarks. The department also conducts research and develops policy on telecommunica­tions;promotes domestic economic development and foreign travel to the United States;and assists in the growth of busi­nesses owned and operated by minorities.


Headquartered in the Pentagon, the «world's largest officebuilding,» the Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for all mattersrelating to the nation's military security. It pro­vides the military forces ofthe United States, which consist of about two million men and women on activeduty. They are backed, in case of emergency, by 2.5 million members of statereserve components, known as the National Guard. In addi­tion, about onemillion civilian employees serve in the Defense Department in such areas asresearch, intelligence communi­cations, mapping and international securityaffairs. The Na­tional Security Agency (NSA) also comes under the direction ofthe secretary of defense. The department directs the sepa­rately organizedmilitary departments of the Army, Navy, Ma­rine Corps and Air Force, as well aseach service academy and the National War College, the Joint Chiefs of Staffand several specialized combat commands. DOD maintains forces over­seas to meettreaty commitments, to protect the nation's out­lying territories and commerce,and to provide air combat and support forces. Nonmilitary responsibilitiesinclude flood con­trol, development of oceanographic resources and manage­mentof oil reserves.


The Department ofEducation absorbed most of the education programs previously conducted by theDepartment of Health, Education and Welfare, as well as programs that had beenhandled by six other agencies. The department establishes policy for andadministers more than 150 federal aid-to-edu­cation programs, including studentloan programs, programs for migrant workers, vocational programs, and specialpro­grams for the handicapped. The Department of Education also partiallysupports the American Printing House for the Blind; Gallaudet University,established to provide a liberal higher education for deaf persons; theNational Technical Institute for the Deaf, part of the Rochester (New York)Institute of Technology, designed to educate deaf students within a col­legecampus, but planned primarily for hearing students; and Howard University inWashington, D.C., a comprehensive university which accepts students of allraces, but concentrates on educating black Americans.


Growing concern withthe nation's energy problems in the 1970s prompted Congress to create theDepartment of Energy (DOE). The department took over the functions of severalgov­ernment agencies already engaged in the energy field. Staff of­fices withinthe DOE are responsible for the research, devel­opment and demonstration ofenergy technology; energy con­servation; civilian and military use of nuclearenergy; regula­tion of energy production and use; pricing and allocation ofoil;

and a central energydata collection and analysis program. The department protects the nation'senvironment by setting standards to minimize the harmful effects of energyproduc­tion. For example, DOE conducts environmental and health-relatedresearch, such as studies of energy-related pollutants and their effects onbiological systems.


The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proba­bly directlytouches the lives of more Americans than any oth­er federal agency. Its largestcomponent, the Social Security Administration, pools contributions fromemployers and em­ployees to pay benefits to workers and their families who haveretired, died or become disabled. Social Security contribu­tions help paymedical bills for those 65 years and older as well, under a program calledMedicare. Through a separate program, called Medicaid, HHS provides grants tostates to help pay the medical costs of the poor. HHS also administers anetwork of medical research facilities through the National In­stitutes ofHealth, and the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Other HHSagencies ensure the safety and effectiveness of the nation's food supply anddrugs, work to prevent outbreaks of communicable diseases, and provide healthservices to the nation's American Indian and native Alaskan populations. Incooperation with the states, HHS op­erates the principal federal welfareprogram for the poor, called Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)


The Department ofHousing and Urban Development (HUD) manages programs that assist communitydevelopment and help provide affordable housing for the nation. Fair housinglaws, administered by HUD, are designed to ensure that indi­viduals andfamilies can buy a dwelling without being subject­ed to housing discrimination.HUD directs mortgage insur­ance programs that help families become homeowners,and a rent-subsidy program for low-income families who other­wise could notafford decent housing. In addition, it oper­ates programs that aid neighborhoodrehabilitation, pre­serve urban centers from blight and encourage the develop­mentof new communities. HUD also protects the home buy­er in the marketplace andfosters programs to stimulate the housing industry.


As the nation'sprincipal conservation agency, the Depart­ment of the Interior hasresponsibility for most of the federally owned public lands and naturalresources in the United States. The Fish and Wildlife Service, for example,adminis­ters 442 wildlife refuges, 150 waterfowl production areas, and anetwork of wildlife laboratories and fish hatcheries. The National Park Serviceadministers more than 340 national parks and scenic monuments, riverways,seashores, recrea­tion areas and historic sites. Through the Bureau of LandManagement, the department oversees the land and resour­ces—from timber andgrazing to oil production and recrea­tion—on millions of hectares of publicland located primarily in the West. The Bureau of Reclamation manages scarce wa­terresources in the semiarid western United States. The de­partment regulatesmining in the United States, assesses min­eral resources, and has majorresponsibility for American In­dians living on reservations. Internationally,the department administers programs in U.S. territories such as the Virgin Is­lands,Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and Palau, and providesfunding for development to the Mar­shall Islands and the Federated States ofMicronesia.


The attorney general, the chief law officer of the federal gov­ernment,is in charge of the Department of Justice. The de­partment represents the U.S.government in legal matters and courts of law, and renders legal advice andopinions, upon re­quest, to the president and to the heads of the executive de­partments.Its Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the principle law enforcementbody, and its Immigration and Nat­uralization Service administers immigrationlaws. A major agency within the department is the Drug Enforcement Ad­ministration,(DEA), which administers narcotics and con­trolled substances laws, and tracksdown major illicit drug trafficking organizations. The Justice Department alsogives aid to local police forces. In addition, the department directs U.S.district attorneys and marshals throughout the country, supervises federalprisons and other penal institutions, and investigates and reports to thepresident on petitions for pa­roles and pardons. The Justice Department is alsolinked to INTERPOL, the International Criminal Police Organization, chargedwith promoting mutual assistance between law en­forcement agencies in 146countries.


The Department of Labor promotes the welfare of wage earn­ers in theUnited States, helps improve working conditions and fosters good relationsbetween labor and management. It ad­ministers more than 130 federal labor lawsthrough such agencies as the Occupational Safety and Health Administra­tion(OSHA), the Employment Standards Administration and the Mine Safety and HealthAdministration. Among its respon­sibilities are: guaranteeing workers' rightsto safe and healthy working conditions; establishing minimum hourly wages andovertime pay; prohibiting employment discrimination; and providing forunemployment insurance and compensation for on-the-job injury. It also protectsworkers' pension rights, sponsors job training programs and helps workers findjobs. Its Bureau of Labor Statistics monitors and reports changes inemployment, prices and other national economic measure­ments. For job seekers,the department makes special efforts to help older workers, youths, minorities,women and the handicapped.


The Department of State advises the president, who has over­allresponsibility for formulating and executing the foreign pol­icy of the UnitedStates. The department assesses American overseas interests, makesrecommendations on policy and fu­ture action, and takes necessary steps tocarry out estab­lished policy. It maintains contacts and relations between theUnited States and foreign countries, advises the president on recognition ofnew foreign countries and governments, negoti­ates treaties and agreements withforeign nations, and speaks for the United States in the United Nations and inmore than 50 other major international organizations. As-of 1988, thedepartment supervised 141 embassies and 113 missions or consulates in foreignnations.


The Department ofTransportation (DOT) was created in 1966 by consolidating land, sea and airtransportation functions scattered thoughout eight separate departments andagen­cies. DOT establishes the nation's overall transportation poli­cy throughnine operating units that encompass highway plan­ning, development andconstruction; urban mass transit; rail­roads; civilian aviation; and the safetyof waterways, ports, highways, and oil and gas pipelines. For example, theFederal Aviation Administration operates more than 350 air traffic controlfacilities across the country; the Federal Highway Ad­ministration isresponsible for the 68,000-kilometer inter­state highway system; the NationalHighway Traffic Safety Ad­ministration establishes safety and fuel economystandards for motor vehicles; and the Maritime Administration operates the U.S.merchant marine fleet. The U.S. Coast Guard, the na­tion's primary maritime lawenforcement and licensing agen­cy, conducts search and rescue missions at sea,combats drug smuggling and works to prevent oil spills and ocean pollution.


The Department of the Treasury is responsible for serving the fiscaland monetary needs of the nation. The department per­forms four basicfunctions: formulating financial, tax and fis­cal policies; serving asfinancial agent for the U.S. govern­ment; providing specialized law enforcementservices; and manufacturing coins and currency. The Treasury Department reportsto Congress and the president on the financial condi­tion of the government andthe national economy. It regulates the sale of alcohol, tobacco and firearms ininterstate and for­eign commerce; supervises the printing of stamps for theU.S. Postal Service; operates the Secret Service, which protects the president,the vice president, their families, and visiting dignitaries and heads ofstate; suppresses counterfeiting of U.S. currency and securities; andadministers the Customs Service, which regulates and taxes the flow of goodsinto the country. The department includes the Office of the Comptrol­ler of theCurrency, the Treasury official who executes the laws governing the operationof approximately 4,600 banks; and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), whichadministers tax laws—the source of most of the federal government's revenue.


The Department of Veterans Affairs, established as an independentagency in 1930 and elevated to Cabinet level in 1988, dispenses benefits andservices to eligible veterans of U.S. military service and their dependents.The medicine and sur­gery department provides hospital and nursing home care,and outpatient medical and dental services through 172 medi­cal centers, 16retirement homes, 228 clinics and 116 nursing homes in the United States,Puerto Rico and the Philippines. It also supports veterans under care inhospitals and nursing homes in 35 states. The veterans benefits department over­seesclaims for disability, pensions, specially adapted housing and other services.This department also administers educa­tion programs for veterans, and provideshousing credit assis­tance to eligible veterans and active-duty servicepersonnel. The memorial affairs department administers the National CemeterySystem, providing burial services, headstones and markers to eligible veteransand their spouses within special­ly designated cemeteries throughout the UnitedStates.


The executivedepartments are the major operating units of | the federal government, butthere are many other agencies which have important responsibilities for keepingthe govern­ment and the economy working smoothly. These are often calledindependent agencies, since they are not part of the ex­ecutive departments.The nature and purpose of these agen­cies vary widely. Some are regulatorygroups, with powers to supervise certain sectors of the economy. Others providespe­cial services, either to the government or to the people. In most cases,the agencies have been created by Congress to deal with matters that havebecome too complex for the scope of ordinary legislation. The InterstateCommerce Commission, for example, was established by Congress in 1887 to curbthe growing power of the railroads. In recent years, however, a trend towardderegulation of the economy has altered the functions of many federalregulatory bodies. Among the most important independent agencies are the following:

actionis theprincipal federal agency for administering do­mestic volunteer service programsto meet basic human needs, and to support the self-help efforts of poorindividuals and communities. Some of action'sprograms are Foster Grandparents, offering older Americans opportunitiesfor close relationships with needy children; Volunteers in Service to America(VISTA), which provides volunteers to work in poor communities; and StudentCommunity Service Projects, which encourages students to volunteer in theircommunities as part of their education.

central intelligenceagency (cia)coordinates intelligence ac­tivities of certain governmentdepartments and agencies; col­lects, correlates and evaluates intelligenceinformation relat­ing to national security; and makes recommendations to theNational Security Council.

environmental protection agency(epa), founded in 1970, works with state and local governments throughoutthe United States to control and abate pollution in the air and water, and todeal with the problems of solid waste, pesticides, radiation and toxicsubstances. EPA sets and enforces standards for air and water quality,evaluates the impact of pesticides and chemical substances, and manages theso-called «Superfund» program for cleaning toxic waste sites.

the federal communicationscommissionlicenses the operation of radio and television stations andregulates interstate tele­phone and telegraph services. It sets rates forinterstate com­munications services, assigns radio frequencies, and adminis­tersinternational communications treaties.

the federal reserve systemsupervisesthe private banking system of the United States. It regulates the volume ofcredit and money in circulation. The Federal Reserve performs many of thefunctions of central banks in other countries, such as is­suing paper currency;unlike central banks, however, it does not act as the depository of thecountry's gold reserve.

the federal trade commission guards against trade abuses and unfair business practices by conductinginvestigations and holding hearings on complaints.

the general accounting officeis an armof the legislative branch that oversees expenditures by the executive branch.It is headed by the comptroller general of the United States. It settles oradjusts—independently of the executive depart­ments—all claims and demands byor against the federal gov­ernment, and all money accounts in which thegovernment is concerned. It also checks the ledger accounts of all federaldisbursement and collection officers to see that public funds have been paidout legally.

the general services administrationcontrolsmuch of the physical property of the federal government. It is responsible forthe purchase, supply, operation and maintenance of federal property, buildings andequipment, and for the sale of surplus items.

the interstate commerce commissionregulatesthe rates and practices in interstate commerce of all common carriers, such asrailroads, buses, trucks, and shipping on inland water­ways. It supervises theissuance of stocks and bonds by com­mon carriers and enforces safety laws.

THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION (NASA), established in 1958 to run the U.S. space program, placed thefirst American satellites and astronauts in orbit, and launched the Apollospacecraft that landed men on the moon in 1969. Today, NASA conducts researchaboard Earth-orbiting satel­lites and interplanetary probes, explores newconcepts in ad­vanced aerospace technology, and operates the U.S. fleet ofmanned space shuttles. In the 1990s, NASA will assemble, in space, thecomponents for a permanent space station manned by international crews from theUnited States, Europe and Japan.

THE NATIONALFOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND THE HUMANITIES encouragesthe development of American arts, literature and scholarship, through grants toindividuals, groups, institutions and state agencies.

the national labor relations boardadministersthe principal U.S. labor law, the National Labor Relations Act. The Board isvested with the power to prevent or remedy unfair labor prac­tices and tosafeguard employees' rights to organize and de­termine through electionswhether to have unions as their bargaining representative.

the national science foundationwas createdto strengthen ba­sic research and education in the sciences in the UnitedStates. It grants funds for research and education programs to universities andother institutions, and coordinates the sci­ence information activities of thefederal government.

the office of national drug controlpolicy, created in 1988 to raise the profile of the U.S. government's fightagainst illegal drugs, coordinates efforts of such agencies as the U.S. DrugEnforcement Administration, the Customs Service and the Coast Guard.

THE OFFICE OF PERSONNELMANAGEMENTin 1979 assumed functions of the Civil ServiceCommission, which was created in 1883 to establish a merit system forgovernment service and to eliminate politics from public appointments. Theagency holds competitive examinations across the country to select qualifiedworkers for over three million govern­ment posts. It also sponsors trainingprograms to increase the effectiveness of government employees.

the peace corps, founded in1961, trains volunteers to serve in foreign countries for two years. PeaceCorps volunteers, now working in more than 60 nations, assist inagricultural-rural development, small business, health, natural re­sourcesconservation and education.

THE SECURITIESAND EXCHANGE COMMISSION was established to protectinvestors who buy stocks and bonds. Federal laws require companies that plan toraise money by selling their own secu­rities to file facts about theiroperations with the commission. The commission has powers to prevent or punishfraud in the sale of securities, and is authorized to regulate stock ex­changes.

thesmall business administration lends money to smallbusi­nesses, aids victims of floods and other natural disasters, and helpssecure contracts for small businesses to supply goods and services to thefederal government.

THE UNITED STATESAGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (USAID) carriesout economic assistance programs designed to help the people in developingcountries develop their human and economic resources, increase their productivecapacities, and improve the quality of human life. The USAID administra­toralso serves as director of the U.S. International Develop­ment CooperationAgency, which serves as the focal point for U.S. participation in suchorganizations as the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Organization of AmericanStates (OAS) Technical Assistance Funds program, the World Bank Group, andalong with the Department of Agriculture, the Food for Peace Program.

THE UNITED STATES ARMSCONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY is responsible for U.S.participation in international negotiations on arms limitation and disarmament.It represents the United States on international arms control commissions andsup­ports research on arms control and disarmament.

THE UNITED STATESINFORMATION AGENCY (USIA)seeks to promote betterunderstanding of the United States in other countries through the disseminationabroad of information about the na­tion, its people, culture and policies. USIAalso administers a number of two-way educational and cultural exchange pro­grams,such as the Fulbright Program, with foreign nations. It provides assistance toforeign press and television journalists covering the United States. The Agencyalso advises the presi­dent and the various departments of the government onfor­eign opinion concerning U.S. policies and programs.

the united statespostal serviceis operated by an autonomous public corporation that replaced thePost Office Department in 1971. The Postal Service is responsible for thecollection, transportation and delivery of the mails, and for the operation ofthousands of local post offices across the country. It also providesinternational mail service through the Universal Postal Union and otheragreements with foreign countries. An independent Postal Rate Commission, alsocreated in 1971, sets the rates for different classes of mail.



Article Iof the Constitution grants all legislative powers of the federal government toa Congress divided into two cham­bers. a Senate and a House of Representatives.The Senate, the smaller of the two, is composed of two members for each stateas provided by the Constitution, Membership in the House is based on populationand its size is therefore not specified in the Constitution.

Formore than 100 years after the adoption of the Consti­tution, senators were notelected by direct vote of the people but were chosen by state legislatures.Senators were looked on as representatives of their home states. Their duty wasto ensure that their states were treated equally in all legislation. The 17thAmendment, adopted in 1913, provided for direct election of the Senate.

Thedelegates to the Constitutional Convention reasoned that if two separategroups—one representing state govern­ments and one representing the people—mustboth approve every proposed law, there would be little danger of Congresspassing laws hurriedly or carelessly. One house could always check the other inthe manner of the British Parliament. Pas­sage of the 17th Amendment did notsubstantially alter this balance of power between the two houses.

Whilethere was intense debate in the Convention over the makeup and powers ofCongress, many delegates believed that the legislative branch would berelatively unimportant. A few believed that the Congress would concern itselflargely with external affairs, leaving domestic matters to state and lo­calgovernments. These views were clearly wide of the mark. The Congress has provedto be exceedingly active, with broad powers and authority in all matters of nationalconcern. While its strength vis-a-vis the executive branch has waxed and wanedat different periods of American history, the Congress has never been impotentor a rubber stamp for presidential decisions.


The Constitutionrequires that U.S. senators must be at least 30 years of age, citizens of theUnited States for at least nine years, and residents of the states from whichthey are elected. Members of the House of Representatives must be at least 25,citizens for seven years, and residents of the states which send them toCongress. The states may set ad­ditional requirements for election to Congress,but the Con­stitution gives each house the power to determine the quali­ficationsof its members.

Each state is entitledto two senators. Thus, Rhode Is­land, the smallest state, with an area of about3,156 square kilometers has the same senatorial representation as Alaska, thebiggest state, with an area of some 1,524,640 square kilo­meters. Wyoming, with490,000 persons in 1987, has repre­sentation equal to that of California, withits 1987 population of 27,663,000.

The total number of members of the House of Represen­tatives hasbeen determined by Congress. That number is then divided among the statesaccording to their populations. Re­gardless of its population, every state isconstitutionally guar­anteed at least one member of the House ofRepresentatives. At present, six states—Alaska, Delaware, North Dakota, SouthDakota, Vermont and Wyoming—have only one repre­sentative. On the other hand,six states have more than 20 representatives—California alone has 45.

The Constitution provides for a national census each 10 years and aredistribution of House seats according to popula­tion shifts. Under theoriginal constitutional provision, the number of representatives was to be nomore than one for each 30,000 citizens. There were 65 members in the firstHouse, and the number was increased to 106 after the first census. Had theone-to-30,000 formula been adhered to per­manently, population growth in theUnited States would have brought the total number of representatives to about7,000. Instead, the formula has bee

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