congressional power

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Congressional powers refer to the authority Congress has to create legislation. These powers are enumerated and Article I of the U.S. Constitution creates and defines the powers of Congress. For more on specific congressional powers, see:

  • Legislative power
  • Commerce power
  • Investigatory power
  • Taxing power
  • Spending power
  • War and defense powers
  • Property power
  • Eminent domain
  • Admiralty and maritime power
  • Postal power
  • Bankruptcy power
  • Naturalization power
  • Copyright and patent power
  • Speech and debate clause

Due to principles of federalism, Congress shares power with the various governments of the states. Some congressional powers, like the power to tax, are held by both Congress and the states. Additionally, any power not expressly granted to Congress is reserved for the governments of the states. 

Under the preemption doctrine, the exercise of certain congressional powers can occasionally prevent states from also exercising those powers. 

[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team