16. Read the text to get some new information about the USA and say what the three main parts of the American government are.
Who Rules The Country?
As you know the colonies in America won the Revolutionary War (the War of Independence (1775—1783). After that they became free and independent states, but they had a problem: they needed one strong national government. That’s why in the year 1787 all the states sent their representatives to Philadelphia where they wrote the Constitution. The Constitution is the highest law in the United States which describes the powers of the national government and the powers of the state governments.
62. The US government is like a tree with a strong trunk and three branches. The trunk is the people. It holds up the tree: without the support of the people there can be no government. People choose the men who make American laws.
The first branch on the tree of government is the Congress. The Congress is a meeting of representatives from all states. The people elect those representatives. The Congress makes the laws that everybody must obey. The Congress meets in the US Capitol in Washington, D. C. The Congress is divided into two parts, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Every state, no matter how large or small, sends two people to the Senate. These people are called senators. There are one hundred senators in the Senate. A senator’s term is six years. Each state also sends people to the House of Representatives. They are called congressmen or congresswomen. The number of congressmen from each state depends on the number of people who live in the state. The larger states have more congressmen than the smaller states. All in all there are 435 congressmen in the House of Representatives. A representative’s term is two years. The Constitution gives many powers to the Congress. One important power of the Congress is the power to declare war.
The second branch of government is the President and his helpers. They carry out the laws that the Congress makes. The President signs bills and then they become law. The Vice President and members of the Cabinet help the President to make decisions. The US President is Commander in Chief1 of the country’s armed forces. A person who wants to become President must be born in the United States, must be at least 35 years old and must live in the United States for at least 14 years before becoming President. The President’s term is four years and one can be President for one or two terms, but not longer. Americans vote for the President in November of every leap year.2
The third branch of government is the Supreme Court. It is made up of nine judges — the most important judges in the land. They have to make sure that the President and the Congress follow the Constitution. They decide what the Constitution and the laws passed by the Congress mean when there is an argument about their meaning. The judges work in the Supreme Court as long as they live.
Americans are very proud of their Constitution. It was written more than 200 years ago and it is still working! But the people of the United States can change the Constitution. Changes in the Constitution are called amendments. There are 26 amendments to the Constitution. The first ten amendments are called the Bill of Rights. They were made in 1791. The Bill of Rights guarantees to people of the USA such important rights and freedoms as freedom of press, freedom of religion, the right to go to court, have a lawyer, and some others. Soon after the Civil War (1861 —1865) there were three important amendments. The 13th amendment ended slavery, the 14th amendment made all black people citizens of the United States, the 15th amendment gave blacks the right to vote (long ago, only white men who were over 21 years of age and owned property3 could vote in the United States). In 1920, the 19th amendment gave women the right to vote. In 1971, the 26th amendment gave people 18 years old and older the right to vote.
1 commander in chief — ãëàâíîêîìàíäóþùèé
2 a leap year — âèñîêîñíûé ãîä
3 property — ñîáñòâåííîñòü
17. Make up an outline of the text and say how much you remember on each of the items.
* * * * * Let Us Talk * * * * *
18. Now you have learnt some more facts about the political system of the USA. Could you answer these questions?
When did the War of Independence begin?
On what country did the colonies in America declare a war?
What country won the Revolutionary War? When was it?
What problem did the young country face after the war?
Where was the US Constitution written? Who wrote it?
Why can the US government be compared with a tree?
What is the US Congress? How is it divided?
How many people does each state send to the Senate? Does the number of senators depend on the size of the state?
Do all states send people to the House of Representatives? What does the number of people depend on?
Who carries out the laws that the Congress makes?
Who helps the President to make decisions?
When do Americans vote for the President?
What do you call the third branch of the US government?
How many judges does the Supreme Court consist of?
How long do the judges work in the Supreme Court?
The US Constitution can be changed, can’t it?
What do you call changes to the Constitution?
How many amendments to the Constitution can you name?
19. Choose one of the items below and speak on it using the given outlines.
The US Constitution:
what the word “constitution” means;
why countries need a constitution;
how old the US Constitution is;
why Americans needed a constitution after the Revolutionary War;
where it was written;
what the government of the United States can be compared with.
The US Congress:
what the word “congress” means;
what the Congress does;
where it meets;
what its two parts are;
what you know about the Senate and senators;
what you know about the House of Representatives and congressmen.
The US President and his helpers:
what the President does;
who helps the President;
who can become President;
how long one can be President;
when people vote for their President.
The Supreme Court:
what the Supreme Court does;
how many judges there are in the court;
how long the judges work in the court.
Amendments to the US Constitution:
why amendments are made;
how many amendments there are;
what the first ten amendments are called and what they are about;
what you remember about the 13th and 14th amendments;
which amendments gave the right to vote and to whom.
* * * * * Let Us Write * * * * *
20. Do ex. 3, ex. 4, ex. 5, ex. 6, ex. 7, ex. 8 in writing.
21. Complete these sentences.
The US Constitution was written ... .
... is Commander in Chief.
The judges work in the Supreme Court ... .
The President’s term is ... .
There are ... amendments to the US Constitution.
The Bill of Rights guarantees to people of the USA such important rights as ... .
... , the 26th amendment ... .
The second branch of government ... .
The Congress is ... .
The Congress meets ... .
There are ... senators in the Senate.
The number of congressmen from each state depends on ... .
... declare war.
The President ... and then they become laws.
22. Look at the words again and get ready to write a spelling quiz on them.
a constitution, an election, congress, a congress-man, a senate, a senator, the press, religion, a helper, a vice president, Cabinet, guarantee, an end, slavery, a representative, a trunk, to support, to obey, a term, an amendment, to declare, a bill, a decision, to vote, a court, a judge, a citizen, no matter how, all in all, armed forces
* * * * * Let us listen and Discuss * * * * *
23. a) Make sure you know these expressions:
the airport clerk — ñëóæàùèé àýðîïîðòà
VIP = a very important person
b) Listen to the tape, ÅÅÖÇ 63, say which of these sentences are not true and correct them.
It was always difficult to travel by plane.
Many seats on planes are needed for government representatives and army people.
Mr Brown was not a very important person.
Mr Brown wanted to go to Edinburgh to listen to some important lecture.
A very important army officer had to fly to Edinburgh on the same day.
Mr Brown had to give his seat to the officer.
Mr Brown was given another seat on the plane.
The important officer arrived in Edinburgh to give a lecture.
Mr Brown was late for the lecture.
24. Answer these questions.
Why was it difficult to travel by plane during the Second World War?
What was Mr Brown’s job during the war?
Why did very few people know how important Mr Brown was?
Where did Mr Brown have to fly one day?
What for did he have to fly to Edinburgh?
Why couldn’t Mr Brown fly to Edinburgh?
Why couldn’t the important army officer listen to the lecture when he arrived in Edinburgh?
25. Tell the story “A Very Important Person” to your friends who haven’t heard it.