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Unit 1: Democracy Print Page
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What is a Current Event?

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President Obama

Fun Facts!

1: Barack Obama II was born in Honolulu, Hawaaii on August 4, 1961.

2: Barack Obama's father was a Kenyan, he left the family when Barack was two years old and died in a car crash in 1982. Barack Obama was raised by his mother Ann Dunham from Kansas; she died from cancer in 1995 and did not live to see her son become president.

3: Barack Obama had a good education, and was a skilful basketball player, because of this he was given the nickname "O' Bomber" at high school. Later he attended Columbia University in New York and then Harvard.

4: When he was at Harvard he met his future wife Michelle LaVaughn Robinson. They married on October 18, 1992 and have two daughters named Malia Ann and Natasha

 

Three Branches of Government

 

Three Branches of Government Explained

The Executive Branch is headed by the president. The president carries out federal laws and recommends new ones. He is in charge of national defense and foreign decisions. Because of this, his powers include leading the government and the Army, dealing with other countries, acting as a chief law enforcement officer, and vetoing laws.

What does it mean to veto a law?

The Legislative Branch is headed by Congress, which includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. The main job of these two bodies is to make the laws. Its powers include passing laws, making spending bills (House), impeaching officials (Senate), and approving treaties (Senate).

What does it mean to impeach an official?

The Judicial Branch is headed by the Supreme Court. Its powers include interpreting the Constitution, reviewing laws, and deciding cases involving states' rights.

What is the Constitution?

 

How a Bill Becomes a Law

About 25,000 bills are introduced in each term of Congress, but only 10 percent become law. These are the steps in the law-making process. A bill may begin in either the House or the Senate except for money bills, which must be introduced in the House.

1. Bill is Drafted: Members of Congress, the Executive Branch, and even outside groups can draft (write or draw up) bills.

  • Introduced in House: Representative introduces the bill in the House. Only members can introduce bills.
  • Sent to Committee: The Speaker of the House sends the bill to a committee.
  • Committee Action: Most bills die here. The committee may pigeonhole, table, amend, or vote on the bill. If bill passes, it goes to Rules Committee.
  • Floor Action: House debates the bill, and may add amendments. If a majority votes in favor of the bill, it goes to the Senate.
  • Introduced in Senate: A Senator introduces the bill, which is sent to a committee.
  • Committee Action: Same procedure as in the House. If the committee majority votes for the bill, it goes to the whole Senate.
  • Floor Action: The Bill is debated, and amendments may be added. If a majority votes in favor of the bill, it is returned to the House.

2. Vote on Compromise: Both houses must approve changes made by the conference committee. If approved, the bill goes to the president.

3. Presidential Action: The president may sign (approve) the bill or veto (reject) it. If approved, it becomes law.

4. Vote to Override: If the president vetoes the bill, it can still become law if two thirds of both houses vote to override the veto.

Adapted from Junior Scholastic.

 

State of the Union Address

The State of the Union Address is a message from the President to Congress, usually given once a year in January or February.   In the speech, the President talks about important issues for Americans and shares his ideas on solving these problems, including suggestions for new laws and policies.

The President usually invites several American citizens to the House chamber for his State of the Union message. These citizens have been invited because they have done something extraordinary. During his speech, the President introduces them and honors them for their achievements.

Designated Survivor: One member of the President's Cabinet does not attend the State of the Union address. This way, if a catastrophe should happen that harms the President, the Vice President, and the other members of the Cabinet who are attending, the Cabinet Secretary who did not attend could then take over the duties of the President.

 

Game

Play this game to see how much you know about the three branches of governement!

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