Study Guide

Legislative Branch (Congress) - Inherent Powers of Congress

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Inherent Powers of Congress

  • Powers said to be inherent to the idea of government
  • Include power to control national borders, acquire new territories, defend the state from revolution

Beyond the expressed and implied powers of Congress, the legislative branch possesses a third type of powers—the so-called inherent powers of government. These powers, like the implied powers, are not explicitly listed in the Constitution, but they are said to be inherent to the very idea of national government. Because the United States is a sovereign nation in the world, it can be assumed to possess certain powers that all sovereign nations possess and always have possessed. The Founding Fathers, the argument goes, surely took for granted that the United States government would have these inherent powers as well. These powers exist, in essence, simply because the United States exists. There are not many of these inherent powers, but some are quite important; they include the power to control the country's borders, to give or refuse diplomatic recognition to other countries, to acquire new territories for national expansion, and to defend the government from revolutions.

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