• Federal Government

  • The U.S. Federal Government is the national government of the United States, composed of 50 states, one district, Washington, D.C., and several territories. The federal government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the President, and the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts, respectively.
    Legislative Branch
    The U.S. House of Representatives currently consists of 435 voting members, each representing a congressional district. The number of representatives each state has in the House is based on each state's population as determined in the most recent United States Census. All 435 representatives serve a two-year term. Each state receives a minimum of one representative in the House.
    There is one delegate each from the District of Columbia, Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico. DC’s representative in the U.S. House is a non-voting member.
    The U.S. Senate is made up of two senators from each state, regardless of population. There are currently 100 senators (two from each of the 50 states), who each serve six-year terms. Approximately one third of the Senate stands for election every two years.
     
    Executive Branch
    Executive power is vested in the President of the United States, although power is often delegated to the Cabinet members and other officials. The President and Vice President are elected as running mates by the Electoral College, for which each state, as well as the District of Columbia, is allocated a number of seats based on its representation in both houses of Congress. The President is limited to a maximum of two four-year terms. If the President has already served two years or more of a term to which some other person was elected, he may only serve one more additional four-year term.
    The day-to-day enforcement and administration of federal laws is in the hands of the various federal executive departments, created by Congress to deal with specific areas of national and international affairs. The heads of the 15 departments, chosen by the President and approved with the "advice and consent" of the U.S. Senate, form the President’s Cabinet. In addition to departments, a number of staff organizations are grouped into the Executive Office of the President.
     
    Judicial Branch
    The Judiciary Branch explains and enforces the laws. This branch does this by hearing and eventually making decisions on various legal cases. Article III section I of the Constitution establishes the Supreme Court of the United States and authorizes the United States Congress to establish lower courts as their need shall arise. The Judiciary Act of 1789 subdivided the nation jurisdictionally into judicial districts and created federal courts for each district. The three-tiered structure of this act established the basic structure of the national judiciary: the Supreme Court, 13 courts of appeals, 94 district courts, and two courts of special jurisdiction.
    The United States Courts of Appeals are appellate courts that hear appeals of cases decided by the district courts, and some direct appeals from administrative agencies, and some interlocutory appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court hears appeals from the decisions of the courts of appeals or state supreme courts, and in addition has original jurisdiction over a few cases.
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