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Constitutional Convention held in 1787 at Independence Hall by fifty five leaders of all colonies for the purpose of strengthening the Articles of Confederation. George Washington presided over the convention. During convention controversy arose concerning voting on legislation. Larger colonies wanted their votes to count more than smaller ones because they represented larger populations. Smaller colonies feared that their interests would be ignored.
On May 29, 1787, Virginia plan was represented to the convention by Governor Edmund Randolph who presented Virginia colony which was one of a compilation of proposals drafted by James Madison. He had proposed a three-tiered government with a legislative branch consisting of two houses which were House of representative and the Senate which would make laws, an executive branch to carry out the laws, and a judicial branch to enforce the laws.
His proposal also called for proportional representation in both houses of the legislature. This implied that states would be represented based on their populations or the amount of tax payments from each. Furthermore, the members of House of Representatives would be elected by the people while Senate members would be elected by the representatives. The plan also authorized national government to have direct authority over all American citizens and negate any state laws not deemed in the best interest of the United States.
The larger colonies seemed to support the Plan but the smaller ones opposed. William Paterson, from New Jersey, had warned that his state would never go along with the plan, while Roger Sherman, from Connecticut was opposing the election of representatives by all people. Others claimed that the Virginia Plan was too democratic such as Alexander Hamilton and failed to protect the government against the passage of harmful laws. Nevertheless, Virginia Plan was voted by seven states to three as the convention's basis for deliberations. The Articles of Confederation was replaced rather than amended.
The contentious issue of equal versus proportional representation threatened to destroy the deliberations. The smaller states did not agree to any plan in which the larger ones had more votes. On July 5, 1787, a special committee was formed to try to come up with a compromise regarding the issue of representation. They came up with a compromise which offered an alternative plan in which the House of Representatives was to have members according to the population ratio while the Senate would have the same number of delegates. On July 16, five states voted for the plan, and four rejected it and that was a victory. The compromise was later called The Great Compromise.
There were various reasons which drove framers into creating a bicameral legislature. First, it was a matter of historical precedent. American colonists had rebelled against British rule during the Revolutionary War, and they had drawn many of their ideas about government British colony. The British Parliament had two houses; an upper chamber, called the House of Lords, which was for the representatives of the aristocracy, and a lower chamber called the House of Commons, for representatives of the ordinary people. That example shaped the thinking of the Constitution's framers.
The second seems to be theoretical. The framers' emphasized on the idea of checks and balances which seem to have made them suspicious that a unicameral legislature may consolidate too much power in one institution. By dividing legislative power between the two institutions they would serve as checks against each other preventing either from ever gaining tyrannical power over will of the citizens.
The third was a matter of practical politics. In the Constitutional Convention small states demanded that representation in Congress be awarded on an equal basis to all states, no matter how large or small. But the large states insisted that representation be based on population; since they had more voters, they ought to have more votes in Congress, too. The dispute ended after a compromise was reached which is called The Great Compromise.
Legislative outcome is arrived at after a long time since there are complexities within the steps involved during the legislative process. Legislation must pass through a defined course before becoming into a law. Each stage represents potential obstacles to its passage and gives to the legislators the opportunity to reject or modify bills or provisions being opposed. Also legislation must be passed in identical form by both senate and house chambers before it can be sent to the president for approval.
Framers of the constitution observed some rivalry between the senate and the House of Representatives. To kill this completion they had to give some powers to the Senate alone and others to the House. Powers which were reserved for the Senate include approval of treaties, confirmation of presidential nominations, and the power to try impeachments. That granted to the House is the authority to originate impeachments and all those revenue-raising bills.
The Congress is the strongest branch of government as by the Constitution. Its legislative power and its power of the purse to the implementation of the law together with the constituent support make it the most powerful tools of government. However, congress has power to oppose important Presidential policies or to alter with judicial decisions based on interpretation of the Constitution.
A Congressional challenge to Presidential policy involves a contest for public support. The alteration of Supreme Court in the interpretations of the Constitution also require the creation of sufficient public support that is both broad and deep to either pass an appropriate Amendment or with the assistance of the President appointing a sufficient number of Justices with different views to affect a change of the Court's views.