We explore the structure and procedures of the two houses of Congress through a series of reading worksheets.

This treasure trove of reading worksheets looks at the arm of government that is in charge of debating and determining the laws that us everyday folks must follow. We look at the difference and similarities found between the two heads of Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate. These worksheets also take a deep dive into common practices that happen within congress through the process of creating laws. We will look at each step of the legislative process and try to understand what makes the Legislative Branch tick. We will also look at how Britain’s government has affected the formation and role of this arm of the government.

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Print Legislative Branch Worksheets

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Legislative Branch Reading Worksheet

Legislative Branch Reading Worksheet

The powers of this branch of the government also include declaring war, confirming Presidential appointments, and investigating abuses of power across all the branches of the government.

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Legislative Branch Multiple Choice Worksheet

Legislative Branch Multiple Choice Questions

The steps involved in order for Congress to make a law are as follows. First, someone must write a bill.

House of Representatives Worksheet

The House of Representatives

The House of Representatives is composed of representatives from every state.

House of Representatives Worksheet

The House of Representatives Short Answer Questions

The number of representatives per state in the House varies according to each state’s population. The higher the population of the state, the more representatives that state has in the House. California, the most populous state, currently has 53 representatives.

Senate Reading Worksheet

The Senate

The Senate is one of the two bodies of the legislative branch of government that is also known as Congress.

Senate Question Worksheet

QUESTIONS: The Senate

Every state has the same number of Senators: two. Senators serve six-year terms.

Debates and Filibusters Worksheet

Debates and Filibusters

One of the jobs of the legislative branch of government (also called Congress) is to create laws.

Debates and Filibusters Question Worksheet

QUESTIONS: Debates and Filibusters

A debate is a formal discussion in which both sides (those for and those against) an issue (in this case a proposed new law) present their arguments.

Making Laws Worksheet

Making Laws

Every law starts out as an idea. Ideas for laws come in from all over the country.

Making Laws Question Worksheet

QUESTIONS: Making Laws

The bill is then turned over to a smaller group of people called a committee that has some subject matter expertise regarding whatever the bill is about.

Veto Reading Passage Worksheet

The Veto Reading Passage

The President may think that the proposed new law is not a good idea, or that it is not necessary.

The Veto Question Worksheet

QUESTIONS: The Veto

Sometimes a bill gets all the way to the President, but the President does not want the bill to become a law.

Committees Worksheet

Committees

A committee is a small group of people made up of members of congress who are experts in certain subjects.

Committee Question Worksheet

QUESTIONS: Committees

The status of live bills and updates on major actions taken on each bill are posted to the Bill Search, a Library of Congress website.

Sponsors Reading Worksheet

Sponsors Reading Worksheet

Every law starts out as an idea. The President, members of Congress, special interest groups, and even regular citizens can have an idea for a new law.

Sponsors Short Answer Worksheet

Sponsors Short Answer Questions

The sponsor of a bill is a Member of Congress who accepts primary responsibility for presenting the bill to the House or Senate.

Establishment of the Legislative Branch Worksheet

Establishment of the Legislative Branch

Delegates from smaller states were afraid that if Congress was composed in that way, that the larger, more populated states would dominate the federal government and that they would have undue influence at the expense of the smaller states' interests.

Establishment Multiple Choice Worksheet

Establishment Multiple Choice Questions

Article I of the Constitution grants Congress the powers to regulate commerce, pass laws, lay taxes, establish Post Offices and post roads, and to "define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas."

British Influences Worksheet

British Influences on the U.S. House

The conception of the U.S. House of Representatives has its roots in British law.

British Influences Short Answer Worksheet

British Influences on the U.S. House - Short Answer

Where did the U.S. House of Representatives stray from the British model?

What Does the Legislative Branch of Government Do?

There are three branches of the government: the executive, the judiciary, and the legislative. The executive enforces the laws, and the judiciary evaluates the laws. But what does the legislative branch of the government do?

The Legislative Branch of the government is the arm that makes laws. The Legislative Branch is made up of the Congress and a few other governmental agencies. This body is made up of two parts the House of Representatives and the Senate. The number of members of the House of Representatives is decided by the size of the population. The House was put in place to represent the interests of the people of each district of a State. Every state, regardless of size, has two senators. Senators are put in place to represent the interest of the State as a whole. Another interesting measure of difference between the two is that you need to be five years older (30 years of age) to be a Senator. There are many different steps that must take place for a law to be created. This process of creating a is called the legislative process. Any member of Congress can write what is called a bill. A bill is a proposal for a new law. The member that brings this forth is said to be sponsoring the bill. Many times, multiple members of Congress will sponsor bills together. The bill is then reviewed by experts on the subject matter of the bill and evaluated. A single bill will travel through many different committees depending on how complex it is. Once the bill is accepted by all the committees, that are necessary, it goes before Congress to be debated and voted upon. If the bill receives a voting majority from both the Senate and House it goes to the President for final approval.

The legislative branch of the government has the power to make the country’s laws (as long as they follow the Constitution). Additionally, they are able to declare war and impeach the President and other federal officials. The federal legislature is divided into two parts – the House and the Senate.

If you’re hoping to learn more about the legislative branch of the United States government, you’re in the right place. This article will offer an in-depth idea of what the legislature does and what the legislative process is. 

Functions of the US Legislature 

The primary powers held by the legislative branch include:

  • Draft laws
  • Confirm nominations for the heads of federal agencies such as the Department of Environmental Protection Agency
  • Confirm nomination for Supreme Court judges
  • Impeach the President and Article III judges (which includes Supreme Court judges)
  • Levy taxes
  • Declare or end a war
  • Agree to or reject international treaties, including ones associated with international trade
  • Regular commerce between states
  • Confirm the Vice President

As part of its ability to confirm nominations and impeach federal officials, the legislature also has investigative powers. These powers allow them to investigate any subject they have power over and were conferred upon them as a way to provide a check upon the powers of the executive branch.

The Legislative Process

The legislature of the United States is the Congress, which is divided into an upper house (the Senate) and a lower house (the House of Representatives). There are 50 members in the Senate (1 from each state) and 435 representatives, along with some non-voting delegates. All senators and representatives are chosen by popular vote.

The major power held by the members of Congress is the power to introduce bills. The bills themselves can be written by anyone – however, they can only be introduced into Congress by a member of Congress. 

After the introduction of a bill in Congress, it must then go through a relatively lengthy approval procedure, during which both houses of Congress have to vote on it. 

If the proposed bill or law change is revenue-based – such as a change to the tax law – it must be introduced in the House of Representatives.

Once a bill is proposed, it is first sent to the appropriate committee or subcommittee for approval. These committees and subcommittees change during every Congress, and there is no set number of how many there are.

If a bill is accepted in the subcommittee, it is then sent to the committee. If accepted there, it must be voted on by all the members of the house of Congress in which it was introduced. If passed, it must then be sent to the other house of Congress for another vote.

Only once a bill has passed both houses of Congress is it sent to the President for his signature. A bill passes into law when signed by the President. However, he can choose to veto it and return it to Congress if he disagrees with it.

In turn, Congress is able to override the Presidential veto. However, this requires that a significant majority of members in both houses – 2/3 of members in each house – vote to override the President’s veto.

Just as the House of Representatives holds power to introduce revenue-based changes to the law, the Senate also has power over laws relating to international trade. They are able to approve or reject any international treaties, including those relating to trade and war.

Additionally, all laws that do not fall under the domain of the House of Representatives (laws that are not revenue-based) must start in the Senate. Finally, it is the Senate that decides on approving federal nominations. Furthermore, while impeachment proceedings begin in the House of Representatives, they are only confirmed if the Senate approves the impeachment.

Final Thoughts

The legislative branch of the government is responsible for creating laws, declaring and ending wars, and approving federal nominations to several posts. They also have the power to impeach Supreme Court judges and the President of the United States, among other federal appointees.