The United States Congress comprising of two houses: the upper house known as the Senate and the lower house recognized as the House of Representatives which share the responsibilities of the legislative procedure.
Every six years, the fifty states will elect two senators for each state. The daily activities of the Senate are led by the political “majority party “holding the most seats. In the Senate, the majority has an advantage when it comes to deciding which bills come to the floor. However, any senator can halt legislation from moving forward. Debate in the House is limited whereas debate in the Senate will only end when sixty senators support a cloture motion that pass the bill forward for consideration. Thus, the important pieces of legislation can be debated for as long as one to two weeks on the Senate level.
The House of Representatives
Each district elects a representative to the House for a 2-year term. The House conducts the passing rules that define the structure under which a bill will be questioned. The passing rules only a simple majority, thus the party with the most votes wheels the debate. In most cases, rules restrict debate hence the major bills can be passed during legislative business.
Bills that are considered by Congress begin with the executive branch, but merely Congress can make laws. Legislative work in Congress mainly occurs within committees. Bills and resolutions are allocated to relevant committees to decide which bills and resolutions should pass and move forward to consideration by the Senate or House. The chairman of the committee can influence over which bill can move forward and in what way the committee revises the bills during committee business meetings. The laws in the United States originate as bills. Before a bill can turn into a law, it must be permitted by the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the President of United States.
Educating the Public
Congress in U.S involves in public education, updating the public about issues and what Congress plans to do or has done. Members of Congress keep in contact with their citizens and educate them on the issues through various channels such as mailings and websites. Congress will present their views on the current issues such as gun control and abortion, which enables the public to become better informed. The Congress selects the topics about which to debate and follow up on through a process named agenda setting. Agenda setting updates people about which are the matters that are urgent and important to members of Congress and inform them of what Congress wants to do about those matters.
Parliament in Singapore
In 1965, Singapore became a self-governing republic. Its legal system is based on English Law. The Constitution forms the supreme law of the country, which lays down the basic principles and structure of the different branches of the government, namely, the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary. The Singapore Parliament consist a single legislative chamber and together with the President of Singapore it formed the Legislature. The Legislative branch consists of the Parliament. The Parliament is elected by general election every five years.
The President will ask the leader of the political party that obtains the majority of seats in Parliament to become the Prime Minister (PM). The Prime Minister will then choose his Ministers from elected Members of the Parliament to form the Cabinet. General Elections will be held in 3 months of the dissolution of Parliament. Starting from the first siting after the General election, each Parliament will last for five years.
The Parliament makes laws for the country. A proposed law is first introduced as a draft called a â€˜Billâ€™, which goes through three readings before getting the Presidentâ€™s approval to become an Act of Parliament
The Parliament practices financial control by calling for the Government to seek the approval from the House for its annual budget.
At the beginning of each Parliament meeting, a time period is set aside for Question and Answer. This is an opportunity for the Members of Parliament to ask questions about their Ministries’ responsibilities. By questioning the Ministers, Parliament takes the Government responsible for its actions and lets the public to listen to a range of views and opinions to discover how decisions affecting them are made. The Parliament checks on the activities and actions of the governing party and the Ministers through its critical/ inquisitorial role. This is done through questioning the Ministers on their respective Ministriesâ€™ responsibilities. This allows the public to be informed of how decisions affecting them are made
The structure of the congress in U.S and the parliament in Singapore slightly differs. However, the functions of both congress and parliament are similar to a certain extent. Both congress and parliament are in charge of passing down laws and informing the public on the latest updates of the actions of the government with regards to the pressing current affairs.