State Structure and Political System of United States
According to microedu, the USA is a federal republic with a presidential form of government. The constitution entered into force in 1788 and includes 27 amendments adopted from the date of its ratification (26 of them are in force – the XVIII amendment, which introduced Prohibition in 1919, was repealed in 1933 by the XXI amendment). The first 10 amendments – the Bill of Rights – were adopted in 1789. The amendments come into force after they are ratified by the Legislative Assemblies (legislatures) of 3/4 of the states. Universal suffrage applies to US citizens who are 18 years of age or older.
Administrative divisions of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The states are divided into counties (districts) (in the state of Louisiana – a parish), which, in turn, are divided into municipalities that exercise self-government in cities, and townships, representing self-government in rural areas.
The functioning of the US state mechanism is based on the constitutional principle of “separation of powers”, which provides for the existence of 3 branches of power – legislative, executive and judicial – and excludes the possibility of abuse of power by any one of its branches.
Legislative power is exercised by the US Congress, which consists of 2 chambers – the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senators (100 people – 2 representatives from each state) are elected for a 6-year term; every 2 years there is a renewal of the composition of the Senate by 1/3. Elections to the House of Representatives are held every 2 years, during which all 435 representatives of the corresponding number of constituencies are re-elected. Constituencies are determined according to population. The House of Representatives also includes 3 representatives of the Federal District of Columbia with an advisory vote. Officially, the chairman of the Senate is the Vice President of the United States (he participates in the work of the Senate and votes if during the voting on any issue the votes of the senators are divided equally). In this case, his vote becomes decisive. In the absence of the vice president, the Senate is led by a president pro tempore. The work of the House of Representatives is led by the Speaker – the representative of the party that has the majority of votes in the House. In the Senate and the House of Representatives, the heads of standing and special committees and subcommittees, as well as the leaders of the majority and minority and their deputies – “whips” are elected. In each of the 2 chambers, there are 20 permanent committees functioning independently of each other on the main areas of legislative activity; as well as 3 joint (joint) committees. Joint meetings of both chambers are convened to consider particularly important issues of domestic or foreign policy. The Congress of each convocation works in the format of two annual sessions.
Congress has broad prerogatives in most areas of government activity, primarily finance. He approves the federal budget, establishes taxes and other fees, regulates foreign and interstate trade, controls the activities of government departments and their spending of federal funds. Control over public funding is carried out by Congress through specialized agencies created under it: the General Financial Control Department, the Office for Technology Assessment and the Budget Office.
Along with the powers exercised jointly or separately by both houses of the US Congress, each of them has its own functions. Thus, all bills in the field of budgetary policy, including the approval of the annual budget, can only come from the House of Representatives, the Senate has the right only to discuss them and amend them. The House of Representatives is given the right to elect the President of the United States if none of the candidates for this post received more than half of the votes of the members of the Electoral College, and to bring charges of impeachment of the President or Vice President. The US Senate, “on the advice and consent” of which the most important presidential decisions are made, has the right to declare war, a state of emergency, approve international treaties, make amendments and additions to them, approves candidates for cabinet positions and a number of senior positions in the state apparatus, heads of US diplomatic missions abroad, members of the US Supreme Court, federal judges, and also makes a final decision on the resolution on the impeachment of the country’s president that has passed through the House of Representatives. The Senate does not have the authority to approve appointments to positions in the White House apparatus.
Local legislative power is exercised by state legislatures, which consist of two or one (Nebraska) chambers.
The President is the highest official of the United States – the head of state and at the same time the head of government. His residence is the White House, located in the federal capital of Washington. The President is elected for a term of four years and, in accordance with Article XXII of the Constitution adopted in 1951, cannot be elected for more than two terms. The Vice President is elected at the same time as the President. Candidates for president and vice president are nominated and approved by delegates to the national party conventions, convened every 4 years. Elections for the President and Vice President (as well as elections for all members of the House of Representatives, 1/3 of the Senators and up-and-coming state governors) are held on the 1st Tuesday after the 1st Monday in November of each leap year. The American electoral system provides for the election of the president and vice president by the votes of members of the Electoral College, elected in each state by popular vote from among local party activists. Voting for this or that presidential candidate, the ordinary voter simultaneously votes for the elector of a particular party, who, as a rule, is obliged to support the candidate of his party. Each state elects a number of electors equal to the total number of representatives of that state – senators and members of the House of Representatives – in the US Congress. Electors elected by popular vote meet (separately by state) in their state capital on the 1st Monday after the 2nd Wednesday in December of a leap year and elect the President and Vice President of the United States by filling out special forms. If a presidential candidate does not receive a majority of the electoral votes, the question of the future president is transferred to the US House of Representatives, which elects the president from the 3 candidates who received the largest number of ordinary votes. According to the XX Amendment to the US Constitution adopted in 1933, the official date of entry of the president into office is noon on January 20 of the year following the election year. In the event of the death or inability of the president to perform his duties, the vice president becomes his successor. In the event of the death or absence of the Vice President, the succession of power provides for its further transition to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, and then to the members of the Cabinet of Ministers according to the chronology of the creation of the relevant ministries – the State Department, Defense, Finance, etc.