Which branch of government is most important? Which has the most power? Our government contains many checks and balances, yet it appears that one branch has the fewest checks upon its power from other branches – for it is its own biggest check.
The legislative branch of our government contains what might be described as the greatest power granted by the constitution. These powers include the making of laws, declarations of war, decisions of taxes and spending, and power to check both the executive and judicial branches. The legislative branch of government contains much of the power as dictated by the constitution – and could overrule both other branches of government if it was united in a decision.
The greatest check on the legislative branch is itself. The legislative is composed of two separate parts: The House of Representatives and the Senate. Under the constitution, the Senate was once chosen by the state legislatures and were answerable to the states, while the House was elected by popular vote and answered to the people. This federalist balance of power was wise as it gave the states representation and made our government more republic, rather than democratic. This balance of power was changed to popular election by the 17th Amendment passed in 1913.
Both parts of the legislative have the power to introduce and vote on bills. Once the bill has passed one branch it is introduced into the other branch to be voted on. The House contains the exclusive powers of controlling revenue, impeaching officials, and electing the President in case of an electoral tie. The Senate has the exclusive powers of confirming presidential appointments and ratifying treaties. This division of powers within the branch itself protects the people from overbearing government.
The legislative branch contains many of the greatest and most important powers of government. The founders were wise and inspired in their balance of power and the checks and balances. The branch with the greatest power was designed to be answerable to the states and the people, and apply checks on itself by the varying interests presented.