Social Studies - 2019-20

CE.6a - Structure and Powers of National Government

The student will apply social science skills to understand the American constitutional government at the national level by

a) describing the structure and powers of the national government;

Adopted: 2015



The Constitution of the United States defines the structure and powers of the national government.

The powers held by government are divided between the national government in Washington, D.C., and the governments of the 50 states.


Legislative, executive, and judicial powers of the national government are distributed among three distinct and independent branches of government.

The legislative branch

 Consists of the Congress, a bicameral legislature consisting of the House of Representatives (435 members, based upon populations of the states) and the Senate (100 members—two per state)

 Makes the laws of the nation

 Approves the annual budget

 Confirms presidential appointments

 Raises revenue through taxes and other levies

 Regulates interstate and foreign trade

 Declares war

The executive branch

 Headed by the president of the United States, the chief executive officer of the nation

 Executes the laws of the land

 Prepares the annual budget for congressional action

 Appoints cabinet officers, ambassadors, and federal judges

 Oversees executive agencies and departments

The judicial branch

 Consists of the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land

 The Supreme Court exercises the power of judicial review

 The federal courts try cases involving federal law and questions involving interpretation of the Constitution of the United States


Updated: May 16, 2018