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Text 2. How Laws are Passed in the UK
Nearly all important bills are introduced by the Government. About fifty bills are passed each year, some short, some long, some needing much discussion. Once the Government has decided to introduce a bill, a minister is put in charge of it. The preparation of the text may take many months, with long consultations involving civil servants in the minister's department on the one hand and Parliamentary Counsel on the other.
At last the bill is ready to be submitted to Parliament. It will have to be passed by both Houses of Parliament, one after the other. It can begin its journey in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords, though all really important bills are in fact submitted to the House of Commons first.
The typical bill of moderate importance, then, will begin in the House of Commons. According to very ancient practice, it must have three "readings" there. The "first reading" is in effect merely an announcement that the bill is coming forward. Then after being in circulation for a reasonable length of time (usually one or two weeks at least) it goes to the 'second reading". This is the main debate on the general principles of the bill, and at the end of the debate a vote is taken. The important thing about this stage is not the final decision, but the words spoken in the debate, the arguments for and against, the discussion of principles and of details from many points of view.
After the bill has passed its second reading, a "standing committee" of up to forty-five MPs is set up to consider it in detail. The bill is printed in clauses and committee members may propose changes to the text. After the committee has finished with the bill, the next stage is called "the report stage". The House itself now repeats the committee stage, though taking much less time. The House has before it the new text of the bill, incorporating the committee's amendments. Some new amendments are proposed and there may be further discussion of the amendments which were proposed in committee but withdrawn so as to give the minister time to examine them thoroughly.
The last stage is the debate on the proposal to "read the bill a third time". This debate is usually short. It is a final review and discussion of the bill as it stands after amendment.
Next the bill must go through the same stages in the House of Lords. If the House of Lords rejects a bill which has been passed by the Commons,
the bill can go no further for a few months; but if the Commons pass it again, in the same form as before, it must go to the Queen for her signature no matter what the Lords do. The Lords can merely delay bills which they don't like.
A bill becomes an Act of Parliament when the Queen signs it.
Text 3. The Executive Power in the USA
Some 2,7 million people work in this largest branch of the federal government. The degree of control the President has over the department, (Departments of Justice, Defense, Energy, Commerce, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, the Treasury, the Interior, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Transportation, State), independent agencies, and government corporations in the federal bureaucracy depends on the rules set up by Congress. Over 99 per cent of federal bureaucrats, for example, are hired through competitive examinations required by the Civil Service Act, rather than by presidential appointment.
The President nominates the highest officials in the executive branch: the Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries who lead the departments; the chief administrators of agencies and commissions; and the ranking officers of American embassies. These appointments must be approved by the Senate. Only the roughly 2,000 positions in the Executive Office of the President (EOP) are filled without congressional approval.
The main components of the EOP that operate outside the White House are the Council of Economic Advisers, the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Inside the White House are the First Lady's and the President's own staff, which includes his personal advisers (some of whom are carried over from his election staff), his press secretary, congressional liaison officer, and chief of staff. The structure and operation of the EOP and the upper levels of the executive branch vary, depending on the style and character of the President.
The President's powers and qualifications reflect the Constitutional clauses intended to prevent the development of the presidential government while providing for strong national leadership. The President must be a natural-born citizen, at least thirty-five years old, and have been a resident of the USA for at least fourteen years. He is elected separately from Congress and cannot be removed from office by a vote of no-confidence. According to the Constitution a president's office is limited to two terms of 4 years each. It also describes how a president can be removed from office (impeachment procedure).The president may only be impeached if he commits crimes in office. To be removed from office, a majority of the House of Representatives and two thirds of the Senate must approve. The Vice-President of the United States serves as the President of the Senate. He can take part in the debates. He can vote only if the two opposing sides have equal votes. It is called a tie. In this case the President of the Senate casts the deciding vote.
Presidential duties are stated in the Constitution, delegated by Congress, or the result of circumstances. The most important extra-constitutional duties are acting as chief of state and party leader. The President became the nation's ceremonial head of state by default, because the Constitution provides no other office for that purpose. He became the national leader of his party as parties developed into the organizers of the nation's political life and the presidency became increasingly powerful. The President's popularity with voters can often affect the success of his party's candidates for other offices. He is the administrative head of the nation because the Constitution states that 'the executive power shall be vested in the President'. The Constitution names the President as commander in chief, making him the highest ranking officer in the armed services, but gives Congress the power to declare war.
The powers of the presidency are formidable, but not without limitations. The president often proposes legislation to Congress. The president can also forbid any bill passed by Congress. The veto can be overridden by a 2/3 vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The president has the authority to appoint federal judges as vacancies occur, including members of the Supreme Court. All such court appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate.
Almost three million civilians work in the departments and agencies of the executive branch. This number exceeds the total employed by America's seven largest corporations. These government employees make up the federal bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is a formally established system which has four basic characteristics. The first is job specialization. Each employee in a bureaucracy is supposed to perform a certain, specific job. Second, there is a hierarchy of authority, or chain of command, within a bureaucracy, moving from the top to the bottom. Third, a bureaucracy has a system of rules that defines its operations. Finally, a bureaucracy is characterized by impersonality. Employees within a bureaucracy are expected to treat all persons fairly and impartially. There are approximately ten thousand civil service job classifications which range from a bridge engineer to a clerk. 10% of these federal employees work in Washington D.C.; 6% work outside the U.S.; the rest are located throughout the 50 states.
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