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The President and Federal Departments
The President of the United States is elected every four years to a four-year term of office, with no more than two full terms allowed. As is true with Senators and Representatives, the President is elected directly by the voters (through state electors). In other words, the political party with the most Senators and Representatives does not choose the President. This means that the President can be from one party, and the majority of those in the House of Representatives or Senate (or both) from another. This is not uncommon.
Thus, although one of the parties may win a majority in the midterm elections (those held every two years), the President remains President, even though his party may not have a majority in either house. Such a result could easily hurt his ability to get legislation through Congress, which must pass all laws, but this is not necessarily so. In any case, the President's policies must be approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate before they can become law. In domestic as well as in foreign policy, the President can seldom
count upon the automatic support of Congress, even when his own party has a majority in both the Senate and the House. Therefore, he must be able to convince Congressmen, the Representatives and Senators, of his point of view. He must bargain and compromise. This is a major difference between the American system and those in which the nation's leader represents the majority party or parties, that is parliamentary systems.
Within the Executive Branch, there are a number of executive departments. Currently these are the departments of State, Treasury, Defence, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labour, Health and Human Resources, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, and Education. Each department is established by law, and, as their names indicate, each is responsible for a specific area. The head of each department is appointed by the President. These appointments, however, must be approved by the Senate. None of these Secretaries, as the department heads are usually called, can also be serving in Congress or in another part of the government. Each is directly responsible to the President and only serves as long as the President wants him or her to. They can best be seen, therefore, as Presidential assistants and advisers. When they meet together, they are termed "the President's Cabinet." Some Presidents have relied quite a bit on their Cabinets for advice, and some very little.
TASK 8. Explain the meanings of the folio-wing words and expressions from the text. Make sentences with each of them.
- midterm elections; -term of office;
- parliamentary system of government;
- executive department;
- Secretary of an executive department;
- the President's Cabinet.
TASK 9. Complete the following textby trtanslating the words and expressions in brackets.
The President of the United States is chosen in a national election for a four-year (пребывание у власти), and may be (переизбран) for a second (срок). Не must be a native-born citizen at least 35 years old. His salary is $200,000 a year, and he also gets an extra $50,000 for expenses; but he must pay (подоходный налог) on the whole amount. He receives up to $100,000
tax-free for travel and $20,000 for official entertainment, and is provided with a home and extensive office space at the White House.
As head of the Executive Branch, the President must (выполнять) the government programmes (принятые) by Congress. He recommends programmes and laws to Congress and requests money for federal government operations. If a President "vetoes" or refuses to sign a bill passed by the Congress, his (вето) may be (отменено) by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress. The President (назначает) federal (судьи), (послы) and hundreds of government (чиновники), and assigns duties to the elected Vice President. If a President dies, (уходит в отставку) or becomes permanently disabled, the Vice President (принимает на себя его обязанности) until the next election.
Under the US Constitution a sitting President may be (смещен с должности) before his term expires only by an impeachment process that begins with the House of Representatives. If upon sufficient evidence, the House drafts a "bill of impeachment," which must be (одобрен) by two-thirds of its тетЬегзЫрХСудебный процесс) in the Senate, with the Chief Justice of the United States acting as the judge and the Senators as the jury, follows. Only one American President has ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson, who was (судим и оправдан) in 1868. But 1974 saw an equally historic confrontation arising out of the "Watergate" affair, which centered on illegal campaign contributions and involved (высокопоставленные государственные чиновники), including President Richard Nixon. Before a trial could take place, however, President Nixon (подал в отставку), and Gerald R. Ford, then Vice President, (сменил) him. The transition was quick and orderly as the business of the nation went on.
TASK 10 Answer the questions .
1. How many terms may a Senator or a Representative serve?
2. Which house of Congress has the power to introduce laws?
3. Name at least three functions of Congress.
4. Does the President always belong to the party which has the majority in Congress?
5. What is the major difference of the American system of government from parliamentary ones?
6. Name at least three functions of the President.
7. Who succeeds the President if he dies or resigns?
8. Under what circumstances can the President be removed from office before his term expires?
9. Who does the President's Cabinet consist of?
TASK 11.. Read the text and state briefly the functions of each department. Give Russian equivalents for the names of the departments
The Department of State, headed by the Secretary of State, advises the President on foreign relations. This department handles all peaceful dealings with other countries, and issues passports to American citizens who wish to travel abroad, and visas to visitors to the United States.
The Treasury Department manages government finances, collects taxes, mints coins and prints paper money. The Secret Service, which protects the President and the Vice President, their families and some other dignitaries, is also part of the Treasury Department. So are the Bureau of Customs and the Internal Revenue Service.
The Department of Defence is responsible for the nation's security. The Secretary of Defence is assisted by the Secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force.
The Department of Justice, headed by the Attorney General, acts for the government in legal matters and moves against violators of federal laws. The FBI and federal prisons are under his jurisdiction.
The Department of the Interior protects and develops the nation's natural resources and manages the national parks. It also enforces federal hunting and fishing laws, checks on the safety of mines and is responsible for the welfare of the Indian tribes.
The Department of the Agriculture aids food production and looks after the interests of farmers. It issues numerous reports on the supply and prices of farm products, conducts scientific studies of agriculture and lends money to build rural electric systems. Most farms today are served by electricity.
The Department of Labour is concerned with the working conditions, safety and welfare of the nation's nonfarm workers. It enforces, among others, the laws on minimum wages and maximum hours for workers. The department's mediation and conciliation service helps employers and workers to settle labour disputes.
The Department of Commerce helps develop domestic commerce as well as trade with other countries, particularly in the mining, manufacturing and transportation industries. One of its important branches issues patents for new inventions; other test products to be sure they meet high standards and report on weather conditions.
In 1979 the Department of Health, Education and Welfare was reorganized into two separate agencies: the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Education. HHS administers many of the nation's social services programmes on a federal level. The Department of
lucation administers and co-ordinates more than 150 federal aid-to-education •ogrammes.
The Cabinet-level Department of Housing and Urban Development was created in 1965 to help provide adequate housing, particularly for low-income groups, and to foster large-scale urban renewal programmes.
In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson proposed, and Congress approved, the establishment of a Department of Transportation to co-ordinate transportation activities previously carried on by several government agencies.
The Department of Energy, created in 1977 to address the nation's growing energy problems, consolidated the major federal energy functions into single Cabinet-level department. It is responsible for research, development and demonstration of energy technology; energy conservation; the nuclear weapons programme; regulation of energy production and use; pricing and allocation; and a central energy data collection and analysis programme.
In addition to the executive departments, there are numerous independent agencies charged with special functions. Largest of these is the Postal Service, directed by an 11 -member board of governors, which was created in 1979 to replace the Post Office Department. It operates post offices, is responsible for handling and delivery of mail and issues stamps.
Other independent regulatory agencies set rules and standards in such fields as rail and air transportation, domestic trade practices, broadcasting licenses and telephone and telegraph rates, investment trading, some banking practices, and equal employment opportunities.
Т ASK 12. Read the text.
The Federal Judiciary
The third branch of government, in addition to the legislative (Congress) and executive (President) branches, is the federal judiciary. Its main instrument is the Supreme Court, which watches over the other two branches. It determines whether or not their laws and acts are in accordance with the Constitution. Congress has the power to fix the number of judges sitting on the Court, but it cannot change the powers given to the Supreme Court by the Constitution itself. The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and eight associate justices. They are nominated by the President but must be approved by the Senate. Once approved, they hold office as Supreme Court Justices for life. A decision of the Supreme Court cannot be appealed to any other court. Neither the President nor Congress can change their decisions. In addition to the Supreme Court, Congress has established 11 federal courts of appeal and, below them, 91 federal district courts.
The Supreme Court has direct jurisdiction in only two kinds of cases: those involving foreign diplomats and those in which a state is a party. All other cases which reach the Court are appeals from lower courts. The Supreme Court chooses which of these it will hear. Most of the cases involve the interpretation of the Constitution. The Supreme Court also has the "power of judicial review," that is, it has the right to declare laws and actions of the federal, state, and local governments unconstitutional. While not stated in the Constitution, this power was established over time.
TASK 13. Explain the meanings of the following expressions from the text and make sentences with each of them.
Chief Justice; Associate Justice; federal court; district court; direct jurisdiction; lower court; to be unconstitutional.
TASK 14. Answer the questions.
1. What are the functions of the Supreme Court of the USA?
2. Who does the Supreme Court consist of?
3. How long do the Supreme Court Justices serve?
4. Are the Supreme Court Justices elected?
5. Who can change the decisions of the Supreme Court?
6. What lower courts, besides the Supreme Court, are there in the USA ?
7. In what kinds of cases does the Supreme Court have direct jurisdiction?
8. What is the "power of judicial review"? TASK 15. Read the text.
Cost of Government
The average cost of all governments - federal, state and local - to each man, woman and child in the United States is $4,539 a year. About two-thirds of all taxes collected go to the federal government.
The individual income tax provides the federal government slightly less than half its revenues. A person with an average income pays about 11 per cent of it to the government; those with very large incomes must pay up to 50 per cent. Many states also have their own income taxes. Many other taxes - on property, entertainments, automobiles, etc. - are levied to provide funds for national, state and local governments.
Federal government spending for defence purposes, including military help to other nations, has fallen as a portion of total government expenditures from 58.7 per cent in 1958 to 25.7 per cent in fiscal year 1981. The remaining
74.3 per cent of the federal budget has gone into public welfare programmes, development of water and land resources, public health and education. As a result of the expansion and increased costs of government services, the national debt has increased greatly since World War II.
TASK 16. Find in the text the English equivalents for the expressions below.
- взимать налоги;
- средняя стоимость;
- на оборонные цели;
- личные доходы;
- подоходный налог;
- налог на имущество;
- военная помощь другим странам;
- федеральный бюджет;
- национальный долг.
TASK 17. Using the information in the unit above, discuss the folio-wing questions.
1. What differences are there between: the government of the USA and Congress; the federal and state governments?
2. Which of the two houses of Congress has more power?
3. Which of these people are not elected: the Vice President, the Secretary of State, a Senator, the Supreme Justice, the Attorney General.
4. Which areas of government do these people deal with: the President, the Secretary of Defence, the Secretary of State, the Associate Justices, Representatives in Congress.
5. If the President wants to introduce a new law, what are the functions of the following: the President himself, the House of Representatives, members of the Cabinet?
6. List some similarities and differences between the US system of government and that of your own country.
7. Who has the right of Legislative Initiative?
Unit III THE SYSTEM OF CHECKS AND ВАЦ* NCES
TASK 1. Read the text and look at the chart.
Checks and Balances
The Constitution provides for three main branches of government which are separate and distinct from one another. The powers given to each are carefully balanced by the powers of the other two. Each branch serves as a check on the others. This is to keep any branch from gaining too much power or from misusing its powers. The chart below illustrates how the equal branches of government are connected and how each is dependent on the other two.
Congress has the power to make laws, but the President may veto any act of Congress. Congress, in its rum, can override a veto by a two-thirds vote in each house. Congress can also refuse to provide funds requested by the President. The President can appoint important officials of his administration, but they must be approved by the Senate. The President also has the power to name all federal judges; they, too, must be approved by the Senate. The courts have the power to determine the constitutionality of all acts of Congress and of presidential actions, and to strike down those they find unconstitutional.
The system of checks and balances makes compromise and consensus necessary. Compromise is also a vital aspect of other levels of government in the United States. This system protects against extremes. It means, for example, that new presidents cannot radically change governmental policies just as they wish. In the US, therefore, when people think of "the government", they usually mean the entire system, that is, the Executive Branch and the President, Congress, and the courts. In fact and in practice, therefore, the President (i.e. "the Administration") is not as powerful as many people outside the US seem to think he is. In comparison with other leaders in systems where the majority party forms "the government", he is much less so.
TheSeparation of Powers Checks and Balances
Congress can pass
laws over the
by a two-thirds
The Court can declare laws unconstitutional
The Senate must confirm the
TASK 2. Explain the meanings of the following words and expressions.
b) to strike down an act of Congress;
d) the Administration.
TASK 3. Find in the text the English equivalents for the expressions below.
- быть связанным с;
- получить слишком большую власть;
- зависеть от;
- политика правительства;
- партия большинства;
- отклонить вето президента;
- по сравнению с.
TASK 4. Answer the questions.
\. How are the powers of
a) the President;
c) the Supreme Court limited by the system of checks and balances?
2. What is the role of compromise in the American system of running the country?
3. Why do people abroad tend to exaggerate the power of the US President?
Unit IV AMERICAN FEDERALISM
TASK 1. Read the text.
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