An old adage about American life states that when you have a problem, you should call your representative in Congress. Although Congress primarily passes laws, its members also do many other things, from helping a constituent navigate the social security system to impeaching federal officials to attending the groundbreaking of civic buildings. Congress is the branch of the federal government closest to the people, and the framers of the Constitution intended Congress to be the most powerful of the three branches of government. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, however, Congress decreased in importance as the powers of the presidency expanded. Nevertheless, Congress remains a vital component of American politics and government.

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