tv Reel America Meet Your Federal Government - 1946 CSPAN March 23, 2019 3:22am-3:39am EDT
america. new ár muse new. on sunday, a campaign rally in front of trump hotel. announcing the bid for precedency the week before. live coverage begins on cspan at 12:00 eastern next on reel america, from 1946, a 15 minute class room film describing how the three branches of government work. in "meet your federal government" bill, visits his uncle jim, who is also his congressman. he takes bill to the u.s. capitol, the white house and supreme court and finishes the day at the lincoln memorial. [music]
[music] i am a senior and bellevue high. there is my first day back at school after a visit with uncle jim in washington, d.c. he is a congressman from our district. sure was popular that day, especially since there was a test coming up in civics class. you would of thought i was running in session. the way they asked so many questions. the gang could not wait to get on the trip. they wanted to know where i had been in washington, what did i see, what did i hear? so, i told them just what happened when mr. miller goes to washington. here is the story that i told to them. uncle jim met me at union station when i got off the
train. when i told him my civics class wanted me to make a report he walked my legs off. we started off right at the plaza in front ever the station. the first thing he showed mow from the station was capitol hill. federal agencies are scattered all over the united states but washington is the center of all national government activity. uncle jim felt we better start with the library of congress, the biggest and most important library in america. set up originally for senators and representatives. but, open to all of the people. the most of the government, copies of most books and magazines published in the united states. the one thing that we wanted to see was in a glass case in the front of the building? the foundation of all of the powers and laws of our government. we could not really have a form of government without it. it is the original constitution of the united states of
america. it provides for a government which 3 main branches, each with special functions, uncle jim says there is how they work. >> the constitution provides the law should be made by the legislative branch. carried out by the executive branch, and interpreted by a third branch, the judicial branch, making sure no law violates the constitution. legislative, executive, judicial, these are the three branches of our federal government. now, bill, let's take a look at one of them. >> well, we went on to take a look at each of the three branches to see how it works. our first stop was the capitol building, that is where the legislative branch or congress meets. uncle jim is anxious to tell me what congress does, after all, he is a congressman. he explained it to me this way.
>> the capital is the heart of the system of representative government, bill. the members of congress that meet there make our laws, they can act only according to powers granted to them by the constitution. the first article deals with congress itself. it must be divided into two bodies. first, the house of representatives, members effort house are elected on the basis of population. the entire country is divided up into congressional districts of 300,000 people each. members of the house are elected for short terms, two years, since they have to come up for reelection so often they must constantly be responsive to the wishes of the voters. it is here, also, that delegates the territories for nonvoting members. the house, doing only half. the other half mosts in the wing of the capitol. senators are elected on the basis of state representation,
two senators from each state, regardless of the population. they hold office for long-term, 6 years. their terms of office are staggered so that some expire every two years, thus guaranteeing there will always be experienced men in the senate. all our federal laws have to go through the house and senate. this is the way it works, bill. first, proposed law is introduced in one branch of the legislature as a bill. it is always given a number and it is printed like this one. the bill is then turned over to one of the legislative committees for consideration. the committee holds hearings where the public can come and speak for or against the legislation, it gives our citizens a chance to make their wishes on each law, known to congress. sometimes the hearings go on for months. unless it is killed by the
committee, the bill then goes to the floor of the house or senate. wherever it originated, to be discussed and voted on. for example, this bill started in the house of representatives. if it is passed it then goes on to the senate. if the senate votes against the bill it dies. but if it is passed in the senate, the bill must be sent on to the president. the president may either sign it, in which case it becomes a law, or veto it. if he vetoes the bill it may still become a law if the senate and house override it by a two thirds vote. in addition to making laws, congress has certain other specific duties to perform. for instance, issues all of the money in circulation throughout the usa under the constitutional power to borrow money on the credit of the united states. through the bureau of printing and engraving and the federal mint, the federal government
makes all of the coins and all of the currency that all of us use in our everyday business. of course, congress can not just print new money every it has to pay the expenses of the government. they give them the power to raise what it needs by levying and collecting taxes, duties, impulse and excises. you must of heard your father speak of the income tax. these are duties levied on things such as movie admissions, gasoline, luxuries such as jewelry, furs, silverware and other things. another way congress raises money to run the government is from taxes on goods imported from other countries. these are called tariffs, congress regulates commerce among the states, goods moving across state boundaries are not
taxed but it is regulated by congress through the interstate commerce commission. congress and only congress has the power to declare war. even though the president may call for a declaration of war. and, when the united states is involved in international agreement the senate is all important. for example, the signature of our secretary of state to the united nation's charter had to be approved by a two thirds majority of the senate. a clause in the constitution states that treaties are made by the president but only with the advise and consent of the senate. >> from the capitol, down pennsylvania avenue to look at the white house. that is where the president lives. the white house represents the executive branch of the government. before he got through, i could see why uncle jim said the
president has the biggest and toughest job in the world. >> yes. bill, the white house is both the home and office of the president. the president is chosen by the people through the electoral college. some of the president's duties are set by the constitution, other established by laws, treaties and public opinion. the president's main job is to take care of the laws that should be faithfully executed. he must decide to sign or to veto every congressional bill. and when i bill becomes law he is responsible for putting that law into effect. to help him, the president has 10 executive departments, state, treasurary, war, justice, post office, navy,
interior, agriculture, commerce, labor. the secretary of each department say member of the president's cabinet. his chief advisory body. from time to time as emergencies arise special agencies are created to assist the president. examels are the veterans administration. -- examples are veterans administration. i don't need to tell you the president is the commander and chief of the armed forces. this is a heavy responsibility. congress gives him the power to make many military decisions in conducting a war. finally it is the president's duty to -- he usually does this in an annual message to joint session of congress. >> the next step in the tour is the supreme court building. this is where they decide if our laws follow the meaning of
the constitution. uncle jim told me to notice the inscription over the entrance. equal justice under law. he said this pretty well sums up the purposes of the supreme court. then he went to explain what it meant. >> the supreme court is the judicial branch of the federal government. here the law itself is on trial. it is judged according to if it violates our constitutional rights the court is composed of 9 judges, members are nominated by the president but their appointment must be confirmed by the senate. now you should have a good idea how the constitution sets up the three main branches of our government. the legislature which is congress, the executive branch, which is the president, and the judiciary which is the supreme
court. the legislature is charged with making policies, that is, passes the laws. the executive is responsible for carrying out the policies. and the judiciary is charged with reviewing and judging the policies. but while each of these branches of government have their own defining moments of duties they work as a team through a system of checks and balances. here are examples of what i mean. the president appoints justices to the supreme court. executive, balances judicial. congress determines the size of the supreme court. legislative balances judicial. the president has veto power over the bills sent to him by congress. executive checks legislative.
the president can propose laws he thinks need to be passed. executive balances legislative. the supreme court has power to declare unconstitutional any law passed by congress. judicial checks legislative. congress must approve many of the appointments made by the president. legislative checks executive. congress a propiates money for the executive department. legislative balances executive. that is the way the constitution balances to keep them working together as a team. it is an important principal of our government. >> by the time i got this far in my story the guys were seeing the importance of team work through every american and it is to realize how far ahead the founding fathers were
looking. and guaranteeing that nobody in our federal government would ever get too much power in setting it up. because of the three federal branches working together for the greater good of all-time. it was the washington monument that i began to get the feeling that maybe these men were still watching us. jim suggested the idea. >> george washington was the great fighter, bill, he knew independence has to be fought for. it took him to bring quarreling states that were quicker to fight each other than they were to tackle a common enemy. and, there were others like thomas jefferson, all believing we could become a nation would be more important than anyone else and where the people could govern themselves. i think jefferson would have a lot to say today about those
democratic principals he first taught. equal rights and equal opportunity for all. and abraham lincoln. lincoln is a hero to the oppressed people all over the world because he lived and died for freedom and he led the country through the greatest crisis, he believed in the government for the people, pie the people, for the people should not parish from the earth. well, bill, washington and jefferson and lincoln are dead. they began our democracy but they knew the job would have to be finished by those that lived after them. they knew this democracy would last only as long as its citizens were willing to keep working on it.
it is our government, bill. from here on, it's up to us. . [music] on suspend, gilabrant holds a campaign rally in front of trump hotel in new york city. she announced her bid the week before. live coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. eastern on cspan next, a conversation about frank rizzo and the concerns of white working class voters in the 1970s. this interview was