Article I of the US Constitution describes the powers of Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government. The Article establishes the powers of and limitations on the Congress, consisting of a House of Representatives composed of Representatives, with each state gaining or losing representation in proportion to its population, and a Senate, composed of two Senators from each state. It outlines legislative procedure and enumerates the powers vested in the legislative branch and establishes limits on the powers of Congress and of the states.
There are ten sections in Article I. The Vesting Clause places ‘all legislative powers herein granted’ to the Congress. Sections 2 and 3 deal with the House of Representatives and Senate respectively. The sections set the composition, term lengths, qualifications of members, officers, and methods of filling vacancies for both Houses.
Section 2 - also requires direct taxes to ‘be apportioned among the several States... according to their respective Numbers’ and that a census be held every ten years.
Section 4, - gives to state legislatures the power to set the ‘times, Places and Manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives,’ but provides for Congressional oversight of elections. The section also provides that Congress shall assemble ‘at least once in every year’ and sets a date for the initial assembly, later modified by the Twentieth Amendment.
Section 5 - dealswith procedures, providing that ‘Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business,’ although a small number may adjourn and compel the attendance of absent members. The section also gives to each house the power to ‘determine the rules of its proceedings, including the power to punish or expel a member’. Each house is required to ‘keep a journal of its proceedings’ and publish it from time to time except in special circumstances. The section also provides that neither House may adjourn without the consent of the other for more than three days or change its meeting place, without the consent of the other House.
Section 6 - provides that members of Congress shall receive salaries, have a limited privilege from arrest during sessions of Congress, and immunity ‘for any Speech or Debate in either House.’ The section also provides that no member may simultaneously serve in Congress and ‘be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States’, and also may not serve in any such office ‘which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased’ during the member's term in office.
Section 7 - concerns legislative procedure, providing that all bills for revenue must originate in the House of Representative. This section also introduces the veto power of the President of the United States, and describes its powers and limitations.
Section 8 - gives to the Congress its broad enumerated powers. Among these are the power to lay and collect taxes and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; to borrow moneyn on the credit of the United States, to regulate interstate, foreign, and Indian commerce; (5) To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures; and to create courts inferior to the Supreme Court among many others. The section also gives to Congress the power to ‘make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States’.
Section 9 - limits the powers of Congress and the government. This section provides that the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended ‘except when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it’; prohibits bills of attainder or ex post facto laws; bars the imposition of taxes or duties on articles exported from any state or the granting of preference to ports of one state over another; and prohibits civil officers from accepting titles of nobility without the consent of Congress. The section also provides that ‘No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law’,and that a statement of receipts and expenditures of public money ‘be published from time to time’. This section barred Congress from banning the import of slaves from abroad or from laying a duty of more than 10 dollars on each imported slave until 1808; Congress banned the slave trade on January 1, 1808, as soon as constitutionally allowed.
Section 10 - sets limits on states, reserving certain powers exclusively to the Congress. States are prohibited from coining money or making anything other than gold or silver coin legal tender for payment of debts and are prohibited from entering into treaties or alliances, although compacts with other states are allowed with the permission of Congress. States are also not permitted to lay duties, keep troops or warships in peacetime with Congressional approval, or engage in war unless actually invaded or in imminent danger. States also are barred from laying imposts or duties on imports or exports except for the fulfillment of state inspection laws, which may be revised by Congress, and any net revenue of such duties is remitted to the federal treasury. Finally,states, like Congress, may not pass bills of attainder or ex post facto laws,nor grant any title of nobility.