The federal government of the United States is comprised of three branches of government to carry out civil powers and functions. The legislative branch (Congress) makes the laws, the executive branch (led by the President) enforces and carries out the laws, and the judicial branch (headed by the Supreme Court) interprets the laws. This system of checks and balances helps to ensure that power is distributed evenly among the three branches of government.
The executive branch of the government ensures that the laws of the United States are carried out. The executive office is headed by a president, assisted by a vice president and cabinet. The cabinet is an advisory body that includes the heads of major departments, such as State, Defense, Justice, and Agriculture, among others. They are also assisted by independent agencies, popularly called the "bureaucracy," which administer federal programs. The executive branch is established by Article II of the Constitution.
The legislative branch of the government, or Congress, is responsible for making new laws. There are two houses of Congress: the House of Representatives, with 435 members, and the Senate, with 100 members, two from each state. When Congress passes a bill, it is sent to the President for approval or veto. The legislative branch is established by Article l of the Constitution.
The judicial branch is the part of the government responsible for interpreting laws in the courts, making sure they are valid and constitutional. The chief federal court is the Supreme Court, comprised of nine justices appointed for life by the president with the approval of the Senate. The judicial branch was established by Article III of the Constitution.
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