Congress and Impeachment - USA Essay Example
The United States’ founding fathers` created several institutions to serve as the embodiment of national sentiments as well as its protection and to check the abuses made by federal public officials.
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The Federal Constitution’s framer established a House of Representatives which will serve as the people’s “House” where public opinion is duly and equally represented. Among the powers vested by the House of Representatives is the sole power to initiate impeachment cases subject to the Senate’s role as an impeachment court. Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Paper No. 65 called impeachment as a method of national inquest into the conduct of public officers.
This paper will answer the questions on: the House of Representatives Qualifications and Privileges; foreign relation committee chairperson’s power and influence on any proposed measures; and the impeachment as an institution in American political dynamics.
The United States House of Representatives
Simply named the “House,” the United States House of Representatives is one of the two chambers of the United States Congress. With 435 members elected from each state’s district based on the proportional representation, as determined by a census, a House member will serve for a term of three years and can be re-elected for the next succeeding elections until a member opt to retire or drop his re-election bid. The “House” meets in the Capitol in Washington D.C., during its sessions.
The current regular House member is receiving $165,200 per annum. On the other, the House Speaker as well as the Majority and Minority Leaders earn more than any other regular member earns. For January 4, 2005 to January 3, 2007 or the 109th Congress, the Speaker earned $212,100 annually and $183,500 for both the Majority and Minority Leaders. By virtue of a public law, the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for House members effect annually unless the leadership and the House as a whole opt to disregard this increase. This provision is in line with the provisions under the Twenty-Seventh Amendment which prohibits the effectivity of a wage increase for two years after its passage into a law.
The U.S. Federal Constitution Article I, Section 2 provides for the qualifications of “House” members to wit: at least twenty-five years old; a citizen of the United States for the past seven years; and a resident of the State they represent.
The Chairperson of the Foreign Relations Committee
The United States Congress has a unique way of choosing its respective house leaders and committee chairpersons. For the US Congress, committee chair’s selection is based on the seniority rule in the committee. Thus, in the event of vacancy or changes in party dominance in the House, the senior majority member or the ranking minority member automatically sit as the Chairperson of the committee-in this case the foreign relations committee. In some cases the house leadership opt to set aside the seniority rule in the committee system.
Committee chairperson’s power in the committee prioritize which bills should be given preference in its deliberation and needs to be forwarded to the plenary or the full House for its approval. The Chairperson can deliberately shelve any measure or proposed bills contrary to party platforms disregarding even his own personal desires. This power could be exercised by simply ignoring the proponent of the measure or dropping it from the agenda of the committee.
Also, as a Chairperson, he should have the leadership to strongly influence the committee’s drafting of any controversial legislation as the need arises.
Article 1, Section 2 paragraph 5 provides that “the House of Representatives…shall have the sole power of Impeachment.” Article 1, Section 3 paragraph 6 provides that “the Senate Shall have the sole power to try all Impeachments.”
By virtue of Article II, Section 4 provides that “the President, Vice-=President and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from office on Impeachment for (underscoring is mine), and conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or high Crimes and Misdemeanor.”
As stated earlier, Impeachment begins in the House of Representatives by virtue of the constitutional mandate that from them all impeachment cases should be initiated. Impeachment ends when the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee adopts the Article of Impeachment by a vote under its own rules for the case. The Article of Impeachment adopted by the Judiciary Committee will be transmitted by the House of Representatives to the Senate for its trial. During the Impeachment of the U.S. President, the Chief Justice will automatically preside over the Impeachment Court in the Senate.
Under Article I, section 3 paragraph 7, provide that the penalty in impeachment cases extend only to “removal from office, disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States. These penalties are mutually exclusive to the offense committed in an impeachable offense.
Finally, in the same provision, the Constitution provides that the President, the Vice-President or any civil Officer after conviction by the Senate as an Impeachment Court, is liable and subject to an indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, only to those cases they have committed while still serving as civil “Officers.” Thus, after conviction in an impeachment trial, these public officers enumerated by the Constitution are liable to the specific law which they have transgressed while serving their terms of office.
Nixon’s Articles of Impeachment (charges)
The U.S. House of Representative’s Judiciary Committee approved the First Article of Impeachment of President Richard Nixon in July 27, 1974. The second and the third Articles of Impeachment were approved in July 29 and 30, 1974, respectively.
Richard Nixon’s Articles of Impeachment were the following:
Article 1: Obstruction of Justice (Approved by a vote of 27-11 by the House Judiciary Committee on Saturday, July 27, 1974).
Article 2: Abuse of Power (Approved 28-10 by the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, July 29, 1974).
Article 3: Contempt of Congress (Approved 21-17 by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, July 30, 1974).
As a result of these indictments, the President resigned from Presidency on August 9, 1974 which preempted the Senate Impeachment Trial.
Impeachments (n.d.) Retrieved April 23, 2007, from
United States Federal Constitution
Wilson, Q. (1992). American government. Institution and Policies. D.C. Heath and Company: Lexington, Massachusetts.