The Powers of Congress

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The legislative powers of the United States Congress are explicitly stated in the Constitution. Article I Section I states “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives”. The enumerated powers of Congress are laid in out in Section 8 of the Article I. The eighteen enumerated powers are explicitly stated in Article I, Section 8.

Enumerated Powers of Congress

  1. Power to tax and spend for the general welfare and the common defense.
  2. Power to borrow money.
  3. To regulate commerce with states, other nations, and Native American tribes.
  4. Establish citizenship naturalization laws and bankruptcy laws
  5. Coin money
  6. Power to punish counterfeiters of money and stocks
  7. Power to establish post offices and roads
  8. Power to regulate patents and copyrights
  9. Power to establish lower courts from the Supreme Court
  10. Power to establish piracy laws of the sea
  11. To declare war
  12. Power to raise and support Army
  13. Provide and maintain the Navy
  14. Make rules for the Government and regulation of naval forces
  15. Power to call a militia (National Guard today)
  16. Power of regulating a militia
  17. Power to govern the District of Columbia and properties for federal government purposes
  18. Authority to create laws that are necessary and proper to carry out the laws of the land (Necessary and Proper Clause)

Necessary and Proper Clause

Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 is known as the Necessary and Proper Clause which gives Congress the authority to create any laws that are necessary and proper to carry out the enumerated powers of the Constitution. The Necessary and Proper clause has been up for interpretation since the writing of the Constitution. A Supreme Court case that challenged the clause was McCollough v. Maryland (1819). The court ruled that the Necessary and Proper clause gave Congress the implied power to create a second national bank in Maryland and the state could not tax the bank.

Another Congressional power that is explicitly stated in the Constitution was the impeachment powers in Article I, Section 2 and 3. Congress has the authority to impeach a sitting President in office. The impeachment process is as such, the House of Representatives brings articles of impeachment against the official and then the Senate is responsible for the impeachment trial. In order to impeach a sitting President, the Senate must vote two-thirds. Article III, Section 3 gives Congress the authority to decide on the punishment of treason.

In conclusion, the Founding Fathers explicitly stated the powers of Congress in the Constitution in order to solidify that the power of the government comes from the people. The Constitution is a protected document that has been interpreted since its writing. The powers of Congress were laid out in order to establish our government for the people, by the people.

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The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription. (2018, December 18). Retrieved February 27, 2019, from

By: Angie Kirby, EKU Graduate Assistant              

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