The U.S. Political System

The Congress

The Congress is the legislative arm of the U.S. government that was established under provisions of the constitution of the country in 1789. The entity was formed to increase the representation and participation of leaders in the affairs of the country. Today the congress system comprises two houses which include the senate and the House of Representatives (Oleszek, 2004). The senate at the representative level comprises two elected individuals from each state. The members of the House of Representatives are elected on the grounds of population composition in each state. An elected senator represents between 1and 37 million individuals. However, the figure may vary according to the population of the state (Lee, 2004).

Apart from the membership, congress has rights and responsibilities that are derived from the constitution. The entity has the right to use its legislative powers to amend various laws in the country. It also has the right to determine the election process for representatives and senators. Congress has the right to play a judicial role during the election of its members. Just like the rights, the responsibilities of congress are also vested in the constitution. The document grants the entity the responsibility to enact rules of naturalization and cases of bankruptcies. It has the responsibility of controlling the government’s budget and expenditure. Congress can institute tribunals on various issues. However, its tribunals are inferior to those of the Supreme Court (Schiller, 2000).

To effectively perform the aforementioned responsibilities, congress has a committee structure that comprises three categories of committees. Select and special committees are formed for particular purposes such as conducting investigations on current issues (Oleszek, 2004). For instance, current issues on deregulation of electricity, broadband, and cable industries should be handled by the select and special committees. On the other hand, the official duties of the congress are handled by the standing committees. Congress relies on joint committees to enhance the law-making process. Appointment to the committees is a process that is outlined by the Senate rules. It must be conducted according to the decisions of the officers in charge of elections. Each party in the congress nominates a potential candidate to be to the committees in the house. After the appointments, the membership to the committees is further divided into classes depending on the level of significance and duties (Lee, 2004).

Legislative duties and political roles of the congress automatically establish its relationship with the president. The president needs Congress to execute legislative measures and other political duties. The condition for cooperation between the president and the congress was established by the framers of the American constitution. The president can recommend legislations and policies for the country. However, the implementation and the execution of such legislations depend on congress. It is allowed by the constitution to debate on such proposals and vote. In some cases, Congress may fail to enact the proposals made by the president. Congress also has the constitutional powers to approve political appointments made by the president. As a legislative entity, it has the responsibility of approving the president’s policies on various issues such as foreign relationships and military interventions. The president should therefore establish a good relationship with the congress to promote cooperation (Oleszek, 2004).

Antitrust Laws

Antitrust laws are collections of trade laws that foster competition in trade with aim of benefiting the consumers. The laws prohibit illegal trade activities, which may interfere with the growth and development of trade in the country. The Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Act, and the Sherman Act are found within the boundaries of antitrust laws. The three acts have promoted fair trade through their legal provisions. For instance, the Clayton Act inhibits the formation of mergers and acquisitions that can interfere with the element of competition. The government prohibits mergers, which are aimed at increasing the prices of commodities in the market. The act ensures that the size of the mergers or acquisitions created does not interfere with the prices. However, the act does not attract any criminal penalties but the parties involved must consult the Antitrust Division on the issues (Blumenthal, 2013).

The Sherman Act prohibits any conspiracies, contracts, and agreements between business entities to charge high prices and rig trade bids. The act further prohibits the monopolization of commercial entities. It also outlaws any trade arrangements, which may interfere with the spirit of competition. Unlike the Clayton Act, the Sherman Act attracts serious criminal penalties. The Act can be enforced by a commercial court and the Antitrust Division. The court can preside over criminal violations of the Act and prescribe punishments in the form of fines or imprisonment (Baron, 2010).

The Federal Trade Commission Act outlaws unjust manners of competition in interstate trade activities. The act also prohibits business transactions that are related to fraud such as conspiracies to conduct fraud. It also fights illegal commercial activities such as obstruction of justice, presenting a false statement to federal entities, and wire fraud. The act does not attract criminal penalties. It is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, which polices the violations that fall within the Act. The Department of Justice through the commercial court in the country also plays an important role in punishing illegal trade activities that are related to the provisions of the Act. The Federal Trade Commission may also take administrative initiatives against violations of Clayton and the Sherman Act. It can extend its actions on anti-competitive activities that do not fall within the confines of the Clayton or Sherman Act. The provisions of the act also allow the commission to seek injunctive assistance from the federal court against any conduct that interferes with competition in business (Blumenthal, 2013).

Antitrust laws are enforced by the Antitrust Division through the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and the trade suites filed by private parties in commercial courts. The enforcement of the agencies ensures that individuals concerned pay for the damages involved and may also recommend imprisonment. However, the agencies experience certain limitations when pursuing their responsibilities. For instance, the investigative roles are conducted by organizations such as the F.B.I. and C.I.A. The laws sometimes create double standards where there are federal antitrust laws or the antitrust laws established by different states. Therefore, suggestions to simplify such complexities should be aimed at eliminating double standards and applying common antitrust laws in all states (Viscusi, 1995).


Baron, D. P. (2010). Business and its environment. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Blumenthal, W. (2013). Models for merging the US antitrust agencies. Journal of Antitrust Enforcement, 1(1), 24–51.

Lee, H. (2004). How congress works and why you should care. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Oleszek, W.J. (2004). Congressional procedures and the policy process. Thousand Oaks, Ca: CQ Press.

Schiller, W. J. (2000). Partners and rivals: Representation in U.S. senate delegations. William Street, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Viscusi, W. (1995). Economics of regulation and antitrust. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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