Government » American Congress » The Institutional Design of Congress

The Institutional Design of Congress

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Describe the role of Congress in the U.S. constitutional system
  • Define bicameralism
  • Explain gerrymandering and the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives
  • Discuss the three kinds of powers granted to Congress

The origins of the U.S. Constitution and the convention that brought it into existence are rooted in failure—the failure of the Articles of Confederation. After only a handful of years, the states of the union decided that the Articles were simply unworkable. In order to save the young republic, a convention was called, and delegates were sent to assemble and revise the Articles. From the discussions and compromises in this convention emerged Congress in the form we recognize today. In this section, we will explore the debates and compromises that brought about the bicameral (two-chamber) Congress, made up of a House of Representatives and Senate. We will also explore the goals of bicameralism and how it functions. Finally, we will look at the different ways seats are apportioned in the two chambers.

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