Keeping Things in Check – Three Branches of Government - Reading Comprehension
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Keeping Things in Check – Three Branches of Government Reading Comprehension
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Keeping Things in Check – Three Branches of Government
By Phyllis Naegeli
1 Our government has three branches. Imagine a triangle. At the top is the executive branch. The two bottom corners are the judicial branch and the legislative branch – also called Congress. Each part of the government is connected to the other. Each has its own responsibilities and powers. A system of checks and balances prevents one branch from gaining too much power. So how does this all work?
2 One way is through the process of creating laws. Congress is responsible for making laws. A law starts this process as a bill. When Congress passes a bill, it goes to the president who reviews it. If he likes it, he signs it, and it becomes a law. If the president does not like it, he vetoes it. When the president decides to veto a bill, the Congress can vote on it again. If two-thirds of the Congress votes in favor of the bill, they override the veto. The bill becomes a law. The judicial branch can review laws made by Congress and approved by the president. They are responsible for deciding if the law agrees with our constitution. Should the judicial branch decide the law does not agree, it is ruled "unconstitutional." If the Congress still believes the idea should be a law, they must pass a constitutional amendment. Adding an amendment to the constitution is a long process. In addition to passing Congress, three-fourths of the state legislatures must approve an amendment for it to become a part of our constitution.
3 The president's powers are limited in the system of checks and balances. As the leader of the executive branch, the president ensures the enforcement of the laws in our country. In part, he does this by appointing leaders for the many departments and agencies in our government. These departments and agencies work to make our lives better. They make sure our food, air, water, and businesses are safe. They run the military, collect taxes, and help the elderly and disabled. They manage the National Parks and promote space travel. Our safety and protection on highways and roads, in airports, and in our health care system are all part of the government's responsibility to us. In order to limit the powers of the president, the Congress must approve the people chosen to fill these jobs.
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