United States Congress Term Paper

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[. . .] The Continental Congress; which was the predecessor to the House and Senate and used before the Constitution was ratified; had no power to collect money or require that people pay taxes. But the tax laws were clearly written into the Constitution, which had only been rejected by two of the states that were expected to join up later.

Until then, 11 states needed some form of taxation so that they could help support their government. Now that the Congress had this power, they had to decide the best way to collect enough taxes to run the country without doing financial damage to the hardworking people they were supposed to serve and protect.

The job of Congress was made somewhat more difficult by a deep distrust emanating from the common people. In dealing with the colonies before the Constitution, many people had come to fear and distrust executive power. The reason for most of this was that many of the colonies had different ideas about government and so nothing was the same between one colony and the next.

Even in a colony itself people in power often changed the rules without much advanced notice, making it especially difficult for the everyday, hardworking people to get ahead or even know what the rules were. People feared that this would be the case with the new government. The rules would change all of the time and they wouldn't be the same from place to place, which would make it difficult on the common people who were just trying to make a living and support their families.

Vice-President John Adams, who was also President of the Senate, was not just a figure-head like many who would come after him. Instead, he was a very vocal man and frequently got into debates with other senators and lectured them, giving his opinions on various matters and not backing down if he felt his beliefs were correct.

Even though he didn't have a vote unless the Senate reached a tie, he was not afraid to share what he thought. While not an official vote, it could sometimes sway the thinking of the more indecisive members of the Senate, which might be just enough to get something passed or a new bill enacted that wouldn't have happened had it not been for Adams.

He also got the Senate and the House into a heated debate over what title the President of the United States should have. He didn't seem to think that "President" said enough, and felt that something more important should be used. The senate was the first group to get involved in this, and the House soon followed. The House thought "President" was fine, which started a fight between the House and the Senate.

It seemed that during their first few months, all the House and Senate worried about were trivial matters such as the titles of elected officials, and didn't really get a lot of important government business done. They even began making up names for each other, like the "Highness of the Lower Chamber," or the "Highness of the Senate." It seems that occupied much of their time.

As the months went on, however, Congress did begin to accomplish more of what they were actually created for. As people began to settle into and understand their roles a little bit better, it became easier for them to stop some of the bickering and get down to the business of making laws and approving or rejecting things that the President suggested to them. One of the top priorities was still structure and organization, but other issues began coming to light as well. Heated discussions and huge disagreements between the House and Senate were not uncommon, both over procedural and other issues. They fought much more often than they got along, even amongst their own branches, but they largely presented a united front when addressing the President with decisions.

During the first 100 years of Congress, many bills were passed and a lot of legislation was created, but those things don't seem to be nearly as important as the internal struggles that were going on between the two bodies. Largely, they fought all of the time, but still managed to accomplish a lot. They could have accomplished a lot more, however, if they would have been more willing to work together and less willing to argue about which group was right and which was wrong. Both had some very valid points made on many different pieces of legislation. Some of what caused them to fight so much wasn't the actual legislation but the fact that the person promoting it was from a different political party. If the legislation passed, the other party would "win."

As the history of the nation and of Congress continued battles were fought not only between the House and the Senate but also in each separate branch because there were often opposing parties trying to take control of a particular branch. Not only did a specific party affiliation affect how the people in one branch of Congress interacted with each other, but it affected how the branches interacted with each other and how the Congress as a whole interacted with the President.

Having a House and Senate controlled by Democrats and having a Republican for President, for example, could be a huge problem for the country. Traditionally, the more liberal Democrats and the conservative Republicans have not gotten along. This failure to get past the party affiliation and deal with the issues at hand can create difficulties because the President could veto the Congress if he didn't like a bill they wanted passed. Congress could also reject a bill that would have been good for the country simply because it came from a President that belonged to the "other" party. This was only one of many things that contributed to making Congress' first 100 years difficult for them, the Presidents, and the fledgling United States of America.

Congress in the Second 100 years:

The next 100 years brought about little change in the way the House and Senate disagreed with each other. Not only were the people elected to both branches arguing with each other, but they were often wealthy men who were sometimes only playing at government. This was obviously not good for the nation, who relied on the government to make rules, give them direction, and let them know what was going on in the country. Many in the Congress were lazy and unconcerned with life outside of politics. Many others were good people who were trying to do the best that they could to help the American public. Often these groups clashed, but sometimes the people trying to be helpful actually made some headway and helped those most in need.

There were some significant events in Congress' second 100 years, however. The Gold Standard Act was passed, which set gold as the base for currency in America. An open door policy for trade was established with China. The Hawaiian Islands became part of America. A naval base was established at Pearl Harbor; later to be bombed by the Japanese. These and many other things happened during the second 100 years of Congress, but are probably less significant than the disputes and arguments going on between Congress and the President over other countries and their problems.

In addition to this, President McKinley was dealing with Spain and its control over Cuba. The Congress tried to help McKinley with that, but he largely ignored them and did what he wanted to about Spain anyway. He didn't take recommendations from Congress very well, which caused Congress to begin resenting him. They were unwilling to pass any legislation he was interested in or do anything else that he wanted done because he would not take there advice.

In addition to their troubles with various Presidents, including McKinley, Congress was not getting along well amongst itself. The House and Senate were fighting even more bitterly than before about legislation that they couldn't seem to agree on. Not only were they fighting with each other, but they were also fighting amongst themselves. Each branch had a mixture of Republican and Democratic people, and they were making it plain that they didn't like each other.

There were several times throughout the course of history where the discipline and restraint usually showed by members of Congress almost broke down as people squabbled about petty differences instead of doing what they should for the good of each other and the nation they served. Each time, they managed to hold it together and work through their differences, but many members of Congress were not fond of each other and it undoubtedly affected their judgment.

One of the main problems that Congress faced was President Theodore Roosevelt. When Roosevelt won the election he began to try to make changes to help the economic and social problems the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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United States Congress.  (2002, November 27).  Retrieved February 15, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/united-states-congress/8139671

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"United States Congress."  Essaytown.com.  November 27, 2002.  Accessed February 15, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/united-states-congress/8139671.