Back to Basics: Congress

✌🏼out to my third semester of medical school & the 2019 Congressional session.

Not to worry, both will be back in full force in January!

Before I head for my vacation in the Conch Republic, I want to drop a basic civics lesson.

The basic of all basics – Congress refers to our bicameral (two chamber) legislature, made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is one of three branches of government. It writes the laws and controls the money.

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I’m Just a Bill

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I’ll be honest, I used to watch the VHS of Schoolhouse Rock: America about once a week as a kid. It might be more than a few decades old, but it’s still perfectly accurate thanks to Article I of the U.S. Constitution, which grants all legislative powers to Congress, including the authority for each chamber to make its own rules for processing legislation. Before we dive in to the nitty, gritty of drafting, considering, amending, reconciling, and voting on legislation, let’s (re)familiarize ourselves with some vital stats about Congress.

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Law and Order: Public Health

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National Archives (D.C.) July 4th

I’ve probably seen every episode of Law & Order: SVU at least twice. Those marathons on USA draw me in every time. Police procedurals on television have familiarized a generation to the reading of Miranda Rights, but did you know there’s another type of police power? Let’s pull out our handy dandy pocket U.S. Constitution and take a look at the 10th Amendment. [You think I’m kidding? I’m not, I actually have a well-worn copy that I purchased at the National Archives as an incredibly nerdy 16 year old.]

The 10th Amendment defines the division of authority between the federal government and state governments: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

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