Friday, March 15, 2013

United States Congress,, The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States consisting of two houses: the lower house known as the House of Representatives and the upper house known as the Senate. Congress meets in the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Both representatives and senators are chosen through direct election. HP Compaq HSTNN-105C Battery Congress has a total of 535 voting members: 435 members in the House of Representatives and 100 members in the Senate. Members of the House of Representatives serve two-year terms representing the people of a district. Congressional districts are apportioned to states by population using the United States Census results, each state in the union having at least one representative in the House of Representatives. HP Compaq HSTNN-C12C Battery Regardless of population, each of the 50 states has two senators; the 100 senators each serve a six-year term. The terms are staggered so every two years approximately one-third of the Senate is up for election. Each staggered group of one-third of the senators are called 'classes'. No state of the United States has two senators from the same class. HP Compaq HSTNN-C66C Battery Most incumbents seek re-election, and their historical likelihood of winning subsequent elections exceeds 90 percent.[1] In August 2012, a Gallup poll reported that Congress’s approval rating amongst Americans was at 10%, matching a 38-year low reached in November 2011. Article I of the Constitution states "all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, HP Compaq HSTNN-C66C-4 Battery which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives." The House and Senate are equal partners in the legislative process—legislation cannot be enacted without the consent of both chambers. However, the Constitution grants each chamber some unique powers. The Senate ratifies treaties and approves presidential appointments while the House initiates revenue-raising bills. HP Compaq HSTNN-C66C-5 Battery The House initiates impeachment cases, while the Senate decides impeachment cases.[3] A two-thirds vote of the Senate is required before an impeached person can be forcibly removed from office. The term Congress can also refer to a particular meeting of the legislature. A Congress covers two years; HP Compaq HSTNN-C67C Battery the current one, the 113th Congress, began on January 3, 2013, and would end on January 3, 2015. The Congress starts and ends on each third day of January by every two years of the odd number. Members of the Senate are referred to as senators; members of the House of Representatives are referred to as representatives, congressmen, or congresswomen. HP Compaq HSTNN-C67C-4 Battery   Scholar and representative Lee H. Hamilton asserted that the "historic mission of Congress has been to maintain freedom" and insisted it was a "driving force in American government"[4] and a "remarkably resilient institution."[5] Congress is the "heart and soul of our democracy", according to this view,[6] even though legislators rarely achieve the prestige or name recognition of presidents or Supreme Court justices; HP Compaq HSTNN-C67C-5 Battery one wrote that "legislators remain ghosts in America's historical imagination".[6] One analyst argues that it is not a solely reactive institution but has played an active role in shaping government policy and is extraordinarily sensitive to public pressure.[6] Several academics described Congress: HP Compaq HSTNN-DB05 Battery   Congress reflects us in all our strengths and all our weaknesses. It reflects our regional idiosyncrasies, our ethnic, religious, and racial diversity, our multitude of professions, and our shadings of opinion on everything from the value of war to the war over values. Congress is the government's most representative body ... HP Compaq HSTNN-DB06 Battery Congress is essentially charged with reconciling our many points of view on the great public policy issues of the day.Congress is constantly changing, constantly in flux. In recent times, the American south and west have gained House seats according to demographic changes recorded by the census and includes more minorities and women although both groups are still underrepresented, HP Compaq HSTNN-DB0E Battery according to one view.[7] While power balances among the different parts of government continue to change, the internal structure of Congress is important to understand along with its interactions with so-called intermediary institutions such as political parties, civic associations, interest groups, and the mass media. HP Compaq HSTNN-DB11 Battery   The Congress of the United States serves two distinct purposes that overlap: local representation to the federal government of a congressional district by representatives and a state's at-large representation to the federal government by senators. The First Continental Congress was a gathering of representatives from twelve of the thirteen British Colonies in North America. HP Compaq HSTNN-DB16 Battery On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, referring to the new nation as the "United States of America". The Articles of Confederation in 1781 created a unicameral body with equal representation among the states in which each state had a veto over most decisions. HP Compaq HSTNN-DB28 Battery With no executive or judiciary, and minimal authority, this government was weak[9] and lacked authority to collect taxes, regulate commerce, or enforce laws. Government powerlessness led to the Convention of 1787 which proposed a revised constitution with a two–chamber or bicameral congress. HP Compaq HSTNN-DB29 Battery Smaller states argued for equal representation for each state.[13] The two-chamber structure had functioned well in state governments.[7] A compromise plan was adopted with representatives chosen by population (benefitting larger states) and exactly two senators chosen by state governments (benefitting smaller states). HP Compaq HSTNN-DB67 Battery The ratified constitution created a federal structure with two overlapping power centers so that each citizen as an individual was subjected to both the power of state government and the national government. To protect against abuse of power, each branch of government—executive, legislative, HP Compaq HSTNN-FB05 Battery and judicial—had a separate sphere of authority and could check other branches according to the principle of the separation of powers.[18] Furthermore, there were checks and balances within the legislature since there were two separate chambers.[19] The new government became active in 1789. HP Compaq HSTNN-FB18 Battery   Political scientist Julian E. Zelizer suggested there were four main congressional eras, with considerable overlap, and included the formative era (1780s–1820s), the partisan era (1830s–1900s), the committee era (1910s–1960s), and the contemporary era (1970s–today). HP Compaq HSTNN-FB51 Battery   Federalists and anti-federalists jostled for power in the early years as political parties became pronounced, surprising the Constitution's Framers. Thomas Jefferson's election to the presidency marked a peaceful transition of power between the parties in 1800. John Marshall, 4th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court HP Compaq HSTNN-FB52 Battery empowered the courts by establishing the principle of judicial review in law in the landmark case Marbury v. Madison in 1803, effectively giving the Supreme Court a power to nullify congressional legislation. These years were marked by growth in the power of political parties. HP Compaq HSTNN-I04C Battery The watershed event was the Civil War which resolved the slavery issue and unified the nation under federal authority, but weakened the power of states rights. A Gilded Age (1877–1901) was marked by Republican dominance of Congress. During this time, lobbying activity became more intense, HP Compaq HSTNN-I12C Battery particularly during the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant in which influential lobbies advocated for railroad subsidies and tariffs on wool.[22] Immigration and high birth rates swelled the ranks of citizens and the nation grew at a rapid pace. The Progressive Era was characterized by strong party leadership in both houses of Congress as well as calls for reform; sometimes reformers would attack lobbyists as corrupting politics. HP Compaq HSTNN-I39C Battery The position of Speaker of the House became extremely powerful under leaders such as Thomas Reed in 1890 and Joseph Gurney Cannon. The Senate was effectively controlled by a half dozen men. A system of seniority—in which long-time Members of Congress gained more and more power—encouraged politicians of both parties to serve for long terms. HP Compaq HSTNN-I40C Battery Committee chairmen remained influential in both houses until the reforms of the 1970s. Important structural changes included the direct election of senators by popular election according to the Seventeenth Amendment[14] with positive effects (senators more sensitive to public opinion) and negative effects (undermining the authority of state governments). HP Compaq HSTNN-I44C Battery Supreme Court decisions based on the Constitution's commerce clause expanded congressional power to regulate the economy.[24] One effect of popular election of senators was to reduce the difference between the House and Senate in terms of their link to the electorate. HP Compaq HSTNN-I44C-A Battery Lame duck reforms according to the Twentieth Amendment ended the power of defeated and retiring members of Congress to wield influence despite their lack of accountability. The Great Depression ushered in President Franklin Roosevelt and strong control by Democrats  and historic New Deal policies. HP Compaq HSTNN-I44C-B Battery Roosevelt's election in 1932 marked a shift in government power towards the executive branch. Numerous New Deal initiatives came from the White House rather than being initiated by Congress. The Democratic Party controlled both houses of Congress for many years. HP Compaq HSTNN-I45C Battery During this time, Republicans and conservative southern Democrats[32] formed the Conservative Coalition. Democrats maintained control of Congress during World War II.[34][35] Congress struggled with efficiency in the postwar era partly by reducing the number of standing congressional committees. HP Compaq HSTNN-I45C-A Battery Southern Democrats became a powerful force in many influential committees although political power alternated between Republicans and Democrats during these years. More complex issues required greater specialization and expertise, such as space flight and atomic energy policy. HP Compaq HSTNN-I45C-B Battery Senator Joseph McCarthy exploited the fear of communism and conducted televised hearings. In 1960, Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy narrowly won the presidency and power shifted again to the Democrats who dominated both houses of Congress until 1994. Congress enacted Johnson's Great Society program to fight poverty and hunger. HP Compaq HSTNN-I48C-A Battery The Watergate Scandal had a powerful effect of waking up a somewhat dormant Congress which investigated presidential wrongdoing and coverups; the scandal "substantially reshaped" relations between the branches of government, suggested political scientist Bruce J. Schulman.[39] Partisanship returned, particularly after 1994; HP Compaq HSTNN-I48C-B Battery one analyst attributes partisan infighting to slim congressional majorities which discouraged friendly social gatherings in meeting rooms such as the Board of Education. Congress began reasserting its authority. Lobbying became a big factor despite the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act. HP Compaq HSTNN-I49C Battery Political action committees or PACs could make substantive donations to congressional candidates via such means as soft money contributions.[41] While soft money funds were not given to specific campaigns for candidates, the monies often benefited candidates substantially in an indirect way and helped reelect candidates. HP Compaq HSTNN-I50C-B Battery Reforms such as the 2002 McCain-Feingold act limited campaign donations but did not limit soft money contributions.[42] One source suggests post-Watergate laws amended in 1974 meant to reduce the "influence of wealthy contributors and end payoffs" instead "legitimized PACs" since they "enabled individuals to band together in support of candidates." HP Compaq HSTNN-I54C Battery From 1974 to 1984, PACs grew from 608 to 3,803 and donations leaped from $12.5 million to $120 million along with concern over PAC influence in Congress.In 2009, there were 4,600 business, labor and special-interest PACs including ones for lawyers, electricians, and real estate brokers. HP Compaq HSTNN-I64C-5 Battery From 2007 to 2008, 175 members of Congress received "half or more of their campaign cash" from PACs. In the late 20th century, the media became more important in Congress's work." Analyst Michael Schudson suggested that greater publicity undermined the power of political parties and caused "more roads to open up in Congress for individual representatives to influence decisions." HP Compaq HSTNN-I65C-5 Battery Norman Ornstein suggested that media prominence led to a greater emphasis on the negative and sensational side of Congress, and referred to this as the tabloidization of media coverage.[7] Others saw pressure to squeeze a political position into a thirty-second soundbite. Article I of the Constitution sets forth most of the powers of Congress, which include numerous explicit powers enumerated in Section 8. HP Compaq HSTNN-IB05 Battery Constitutional amendments have granted Congress additional powers. Congress also has implied powers derived from the Constitution's Necessary and Proper Clause. Congress has authority over financial and budgetary policy through the enumerated power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States. HP Compaq HSTNN-IB08 Battery There is vast authority over budgets, although analyst Eric Patashnik suggested that much of Congress's power to manage the budget has been lost when the welfare state expanded since "entitlements were institutionally detached from Congress's ordinary legislative routine and rhythm." HP Compaq HSTNNIB12 Battery Another factor leading to less control over the budget was a Keynesian belief that balanced budgets were unnecessary. The Sixteenth Amendment in 1913 extended congressional power of taxation to include income taxes. HP Compaq HSTNN-IB16 Battery The Constitution also grants Congress the exclusive power to appropriate funds, and this power of the purse is one of Congress's primary checks on the executive branch.[54] Congress can borrow money on the credit of the United States, regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the states, and coin money. HP Compaq HSTNN-IB18 Battery Generally, both the Senate and the House of Representatives have equal legislative authority, although only the House may originate revenue and appropriation bills. Congress has an important role in national defense, including the exclusive power to declare war, to raise and maintain the armed forces, and to make rules for the military. HP Compaq HSTNN-IB28 Battery Some critics charge that the executive branch has usurped Congress's constitutionally defined task of declaring war. While historically presidents initiated the process for going to war, they asked for and received formal war declarations from Congress for the War of 1812, the Mexican–American War, the Spanish–American War, World War I, and World War II, HP Compaq HSTNN-IB51 Battery although President Theodore Roosevelt's military move into Panama in 1903 did not get congressional approval.[58] In the early days after the North Korean invasion of 1950, President Truman described the American response as a "police action".[59] According to Time magazine in 1970, "U.S. presidents [had] ordered troops into position or action without a formal congressional declaration a total of 149 times."[58] HP Compaq HSTNN-IB52 Battery In 1993, Michael Kinsley wrote that "Congress's war power has become the most flagrantly disregarded provision in the Constitution," and that the "real erosion [of Congress's war power] began after World War II." HP Compaq HSTNN-IB55 Battery Disagreement about the extent of congressional versus presidential power regarding war has been present periodically throughout the nation's history."[63] Congress can establish post offices and post roads, issue patents and copyrights, fix standards of weights and measures, establish Courts inferior to the Supreme Court, HP Compaq HSTNN-IB62 Battery and "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, or in any department or officer thereof." Article Four gives Congress the power to admit new states into the Union. HP Compaq HSTNN-LB05 Battery   One of Congress's foremost non-legislative functions is the power to investigate and oversee the executive branch.[64] Congressional oversight is usually delegated to committees and is facilitated by Congress's subpoena power.[65] Some critics have charged that Congress has in some instances failed to do an adequate job of overseeing the other branches of government. HP Compaq HSTNN-LB08 Battery In the Plame affair, critics including Representative Henry A. Waxman charged that Congress was not doing an adequate job of oversight in this case.[66] There have been concerns about congressional oversight of executive actions such as warrantless wiretapping, although others respond that Congress did investigate the legality of presidential decisions. HP Compaq HSTNN-LB0E Battery Political scientists Ornstein and Mann suggested that oversight functions do not help members of Congress win reelection. Congress also has the exclusive power of removal, allowing impeachment and removal of the president, federal judges and other federal officers. HP Compaq HSTNN-LB11 Battery There have been charges that presidents acting under the doctrine of the unitary executive have assumed important legislative and budgetary powers that should belong to Congress. So-called signing statements are one way in which a president can "tip the balance of power between Congress and the White House a little more in favor of the executive branch," HP Compaq HSTNN-LB51 Battery according to one account.[70] Past presidents, including Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush[71] have made public statements when signing congressional legislation about how they understand a bill or plan to execute it, and commentators including the American Bar Association have described this practice as against the spirit of the Constitution. HP Compaq HSTNN-LB52 Battery There have been concerns that presidential authority to cope with financial crises is eclipsing the power of Congress.[74] In 2008, George F. Will called the Capitol building a "tomb for the antiquated idea that the legislative branch matters." The Constitution details the powers of Congress in detail. In addition, other congressional powers have been granted, or confirmed, by constitutional amendments. HP Compaq HSTNN-MB05 Battery The Thirteenth (1865), Fourteenth (1868), and Fifteenth Amendments (1870) gave Congress authority to enact legislation to enforce rights of African Americans, including voting rights, due process, and equal protection under the law.[76] Generally militia forces are controlled by state governments, not Congress. HP Compaq HSTNN-OB06 Battery   Congress also has implied powers deriving from the Constitution's Necessary and Proper Clause which permit Congress 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, or in any department or officer thereof." HP Compaq HSTNN-OB52 Battery Broad interpretations of this clause and of the Commerce Clause, the enumerated power to regulate commerce, in rulings such as McCulloch v Maryland, have effectively widened the scope of Congress's legislative authority far beyond that prescribed in Section 8. Representative Lee H. Hamilton explained how Congress functions within the federal government: HP Compaq HSTNN-OB62 Battery To me the key to understanding it is balance. The founders went to great lengths to balance institutions against each other—balancing powers among the three branches: Congress, the president, and the Supreme Court; between the House of Representatives and the Senate; between the federal government and the states; HP Compaq HSTNN-UB05 Battery among states of different sizes and regions with different interests; between the powers of government and the rights of citizens, as spelled out in the Bill of Rights ... No one part of government dominates the other. The Constitution provides checks and balances among the three branches of the federal government. HP Compaq HSTNN-UB11 Battery Its authors expected the greater power to lie with Congress as described in Article One. The influence of Congress on the presidency has varied from period to period depending on factors such as congressional leadership, presidential political influence, historical circumstances such as war, and individual initiative by members of Congress. HP Compaq HSTNN-UB18 Battery The impeachment of Andrew Johnson made the presidency less powerful than Congress for a considerable period afterwards.[4] The 20th and 21st centuries have seen the rise of presidential power under politicians such as Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson, FDR, Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush. HP Compaq HSTNN-UB68 Battery However, in recent years, Congress has restricted presidential power with laws such as the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and the War Powers Resolution. Nevertheless, the Presidency remains considerably more powerful today than during the 19th century. HP Compaq HSTNN-UB69 Battery Executive branch officials are often loath to reveal sensitive information to members of Congress because of concern that information could not be kept secret; in return, knowing they may be in the dark about executive branch activity, congressional officials are more likely to distrust their counterparts in executive agencies. HP Compaq HSTNN-W42C Battery Many government actions require fast coordinated effort by many agencies, and this is a task that Congress is ill-suited for. Congress is slow, open, divided, and not well matched to handle more rapid executive action or do a good job of overseeing such activity, according to one analysis. HP Compaq HSTNN-W42C-A Battery   The Constitution concentrates removal powers in the Congress by empowering and obligating the House of Representatives to impeach both executive and judicial officials for "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." Impeachment is a formal accusation of unlawful activity by a civil officer or government official. HP Compaq HSTNN-W42C-B Battery The Senate is constitutionally empowered and obligated to try all impeachments. A simple majority in the House is required to impeach an official; however, a two-thirds majority in the Senate is required for conviction. A convicted official is automatically removed from office; HP Compaq HSTNN-XB0E Battery in addition, the Senate may stipulate that the defendant be banned from holding office in the future. Impeachment proceedings may not inflict more than this; however, a convicted party may face criminal penalties in a normal court of law. In the history of the United States, the House of Representatives has impeached sixteen officials, of whom seven were convicted. HP Compaq HSTNN-XB11 Battery Another resigned before the Senate could complete the trial. Only two presidents have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999. Both trials ended in acquittal; in Johnson's case, the Senate fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority required for conviction. HP Compaq HSTNN-XB18 Battery In 1974, Richard Nixon resigned from office after impeachment proceedings in the House Judiciary Committee indicated he would eventually be removed from office. The Senate has an important check on the executive power by confirming Cabinet officials, judges, and other high officers "by and with the advice and consent" of the Senate. HP Compaq HSTNN-XB21 Battery It confirms most presidential nominees but rejections are not uncommon. Furthermore, treaties negotiated by the President must be ratified by a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate to take effect. As a result, presidential arm-twisting of senators can happen before a key vote; for example, President Obama's secretary of state, HP Compaq HSTNN-XB24 Battery Hillary Rodham Clinton, urged her former senate colleagues to approve a nuclear arms treaty with Russia in 2010. The House of Representatives has no formal role in either the ratification of treaties or the appointment of federal officials, other than filling vacancies in the office of Vice-President; HP Compaq HSTNN-XB28 Battery a vote in each House is required to confirm a president's nomination for vice-president if a vacancy happens.[3] In 1803, the Supreme Court established judicial review of federal legislation in Marbury v. Madison, holding, however, that Congress could not grant unconstitutional power to the Court itself. HP Compaq HSTNN-XB51 Battery The Constitution does not explicitly state that the courts may exercise judicial review; however, the notion that courts could declare laws unconstitutional was envisioned by the founding fathers. Alexander Hamilton, for example, mentioned and expounded upon the doctrine in Federalist No. 78. HP Compaq HSTNN-XB52 Battery Originalists on the Supreme Court have argued that if the constitution does not say something explicitly it is unconstitutional to infer what it should, might or could have said.[86] Judicial review means that the Supreme Court can nullify a congressional law. It is a huge check by the courts on the legislative authority and limits congressional power substantially. HP Compaq HSTNN-XB59 Battery In 1857, for example, the Supreme Court struck down provisions of a congressional act of 1820 in its Dred Scott decision.[87] At the same time, the Supreme Court can extend congressional power through its constitutional interpretations. Investigations are conducted to gather information on the need for future legislation, HP Compaq HSTNN-XB61 Battery to test the effectiveness of laws already passed, and to inquire into the qualifications and performance of members and officials of the other branches. Committees may hold hearings, and, if necessary, compel individuals to testify when investigating issues over which it has the power to legislate by issuing subpoenas. HP Compaq HSTNN-XB62 Battery Witnesses who refuse to testify may be cited for contempt of Congress, and those who testify falsely may be charged with perjury. Most committee hearings are open to the public (the House and Senate intelligence committees are the exception); important hearings are widely reported in the mass media and transcripts published a few months afterwards. HP Compaq HSTNN-XB68 Battery Congress, in the course of studying possible laws and investigating matters, generates an incredible amount of information in various forms, and can be described as a publisher.[90] Indeed, it publishes House and Senate reports[90] and maintains databases which are updated irregularly with publications in a variety of electronic formats. HP Compaq HSTNN-XB69 Battery Congress also plays a role in presidential elections. Both Houses meet in joint session on the sixth day of January following a presidential election to count the electoral votes, and there are procedures to follow if no candidate wins a majority. The main result of congressional activity is the creation of laws, HP Compaq HSTNN-XB85 Battery most of which are contained in the United States Code, arranged by subject matter alphabetically under fifty title headings to present the laws "in a concise and usable form". Congress is split into two chambers—House and Senate—and manages the task of writing national legislation by dividing work into separate committees which specialize in different areas. Sony  VAIO VGN-FZ31M Battery Some members of Congress are elected by their peers to be officers of these committees. Further, Congress has ancillary organizations such as the Government Accountability Office and the Library of Congress to help provide it with information, and members of Congress have staff and offices to assist them as well. Sony Vaio VGN-FZ19VN Battery In addition, a vast industry of lobbyists helps members write legislation on behalf of diverse corporate and labor interests. The committee structure permits members of Congress to study a particular subject intensely. It is neither expected nor possible that a member be an expert on all subject areas before Congress. Sony Vaio VGN-FZ39VN Battery As time goes by, members develop expertise in particular subjects and their legal aspects. Committees investigate specialized subjects and advise the entire Congress about choices and trade-offs. The choice of specialty may be influenced by the member's constituency, important regional issues, prior background and experience. Sony Vaio VGN-FZ39VN Battery Senators often choose a different specialty from that of the other senator from their state to prevent overlap. Some committees specialize in running the business of other committees and exert a powerful influence over all legislation; for example, the House Ways and Means Committee has considerable influence over House affairs. Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31ZR Battery Committees write legislation. While procedures such as the House discharge petition process can introduce bills to the House floor and effectively bypass committee input, they are exceedingly difficult to implement without committee action. Committees have power and have been called independent fiefdoms. Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31SR Battery Legislative, oversight, and internal administrative tasks are divided among about two hundred committees and subcommittees which gather information, evaluate alternatives, and identify problems.They propose solutions for consideration by the full chamber. In addition, they perform the function of oversight by monitoring the executive branch and investigating wrongdoing. Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31ER Battery   At the start of each two-year session the House elects a speaker who does not normally preside over debates but serves as the majority party's leader. In the Senate, the Vice President is the ex officio president of the Senate. In addition, the Senate elects an officer called the President pro tempore. Sony Vaio VGN-NR31E/S Battery Pro tempore means for the time being and this office is usually held by the most senior member of the Senate's majority party and customarily keeps this position until there's a change in party control. Accordingly, the Senate does not necessarily elect a new president pro tempore at the beginning of a new Congress. Sony Vaio VGN-NR31ER/S Battery In both the House and Senate, the actual presiding officer is generally a junior member of the majority party who is appointed so that new members become acquainted with the rules of the chamber. The Library of Congress was established by an act of Congress in 1800. Sony Vaio VGN-NR31J/S Battery It is primarily housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill, but also includes several other sites: the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Washington, D.C.; the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia; a large book storage facility located at Ft. Meade, Maryland; and multiple overseas offices. Sony Vaio VGN-NR31MR/S Battery The Library had mostly law books when it was burned by a British raiding party during the War of 1812, but the library's collections were restored and expanded when Congress authorized the purchase of Thomas Jefferson's private library. One of the Library's missions is to serve the Congress and its staff as well as the American public. Sony Vaio VGN-NR31S/S Battery It is the largest library in the world with nearly 150 million items including books, films, maps, photographs, music, manuscripts, graphics, and materials in 470 languages.

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