The powers of our federal (national) government are divided into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The branches are separate but equal. They each have special responsibilities concerning laws, the principles that govern our nation.

Legislative Branch

Congress: Senate (100 members) and the House of Representatives (435 members)

** Makes Laws **

  • Creates and passes bills (proposed laws)
  • Approves appointments and treaties (agreements) made by the President
  • Sets and collects taxes
  • Coins money
  • Makes rules for trade between states
  • Declares war


Executive Branch

  • Signs into law or vetoes (rejects) bills passed by Congress
  • Commands the armed forces
  • Appoints judges, ambassadors, and other federal officials
  • Makes treaties with other countries
  • Receives diplomats from other countries
  • Represents the U.S. at special ceremonies


Judicial Branch (Supreme Court )

  • Can decide if a law is constitutional
  • Can decide if a Presidential action is constitutional
  • Reviews court cases related to the Constitution and federal laws
  • Reviews cases tried in lower courts


Adapted from Scholastic Skills Books: Our Nation's Government ("Legislative Branch" and "Judicial Branch" editions).