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To find your federal officials and representatives, go to Who Are Your Elected Officials?, enter your street address and city in the search box at the upper left, and click the search icon. Click the down arrow at the upper right and select Federal.

Federal Government

To limit the power of any one person or group, the Constitution mandates three branches of federal government: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. 

  • Congress, the legislative branch, makes the laws. Congress is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
  • There are 100 senators—two per state—and 435 representatives—one each per state and the rest allocated (apportioned) according to state population. 
  • Senators serve six-year terms with one-third of the Senate up for election every two years; Senate elections are held in even-numbered years. Representatives serve two-year terms; in even numbered years, all 435 House members run for election. There are no term limits for either senators or representatives.
  • The executive branch, consisting of the president, the vice president, the Cabinet, and most federal agencies, carries out laws.
  • A presidential term is four years; elections are in even-numbered years. Presidents are limited to two elected terms.
  • The judicial branch—all the courts including the Supreme Court—evaluates laws and the adherence or non-adherence to them.
  • A chief justice and eight associate justices make up the nine-member Supreme Court. Supreme Court justices are appointed for life.

A system of checks and balances allows each of these branches to exert certain controls over the powers of the others (1).

  • The president can veto the laws that Congress creates.
  • Congress, with a two-thirds majority vote, can override a presidential veto.
  • The Supreme Court can determine laws unconstitutional and overturn them. 
  • The president nominates the heads of federal agencies; Congress confirms or rejects them.
  • The president nominates the Supreme Court justices; Congress confirms or rejects them.
  • Under certain unusual circumstances, Congress can remove the president from office through the process of impeachment.


For more information:

LWV-BMC Government Basics

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