What Congress Does

Congress is the legislative branch of the federal government that represents the American people and makes the nation's laws. It shares power with the executive branch, led by the president, and the judicial branch, whose highest body is the Supreme Court of the United States. Of the three branches of government, Congress is the only one elected directly by the people.

Article I—the longest article of the Constitution—describes congressional powers. Congress has the power to:

  • Make laws
  • Declare war
  • Raise and provide public money and oversee its proper expenditure
  • Impeach and try federal officers
  • Approve presidential appointments
  • Approve treaties negotiated by the executive branch
  • Oversight and investigations