legislative power

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Legislative power is the power to make and alter laws. In the United States, federal legislative power resides with Congress. As an extension of the power to make laws, Congress has powers to conduct hearings and investigations, consider legislative matters, and perform other duties that are necessary and proper to enacting legislation. The extent to which Congress can delegate some of its legislative powers to executive branch agencies for regulatory purposes is a contested topic in constitutional law, seen recently in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (2022). Read the full opinion at SupremeCourt.gov.

Article 1 of the US Constitution defines the scope and exercise of legislative power by the federal government of the United States. Section 1 states that “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Further sections go on to define the methods for exercising legislative power and the constitutional limitations on the power. 

[Last updated in June of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]