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The system of government in the USA

Ø 1) Look at the phrases from the text: to vote for, a representative democracy, a branch of government, to abide by the constitution, the legislative branch, the Congress, the House of Representatives, the Senate, a bill becomes a law, the executive branch, the President, the Vice-president, the judicial branch, political parties, the Democratic party, the Republican party. What do they mean?

The Form of the Government of the USA.The United States is a representative democracy. It means that people, who vote for government representatives, direct the country policy and have all the governmental power.

The constitution of the US describes the powers of national and state governments, the functions and framework of each branch of the government, and the rights of the individual citizens.

All public officials of the national and state governments must swear to abide by the Constitution, which was written to protect the democratic interests of the people and the government.


The Legislative Branch of the USA.The function of the legislative branch is to make laws. The legislative branch consists of the representatives who are elected to Congress.

Congress consists of two groups which are called houses: the House of Representatives (the House, for short) and the Senate.

Lawmakers from all of the states are elected to work in the House of Representatives. It is important to know that each state has a different number of districts; the number of districts in each state depends on the population. So, each district elects only one representative to the House of Representatives. The representatives are elected for a two-year term. There are 435 representatives in the House currently.

The Senate is smaller than the House. Each state, regardless of the population, has two senators. The senatorial term is six years.

How a Bill Becomes a Law.Each house of Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives) makes laws.

A law first begins as a ‘bill’. When a bill is introduced, it is sent to the appropriate committee. Each house of Congress has committees which specialize in a particular area of legislation, for example foreign affairs, defense, banking and agriculture. The committee members study the bill and then send it to the Senate or House chamber where it was first introduced. After a debate, the bill is voted on. If the bill passes, it is sent to the other house where it goes through a similar process.

The Senate may reject a bill proposed in the House of Representatives, or add amendments. If this happens, “a conference committee” is organized. The members of the Senate and the House of Representatives take part in the work of this committee, and they try to work out a compromise. If both sides agree on the new version, the bill is sent to the president for his signature. At this point, the bill becomes a law.


The Executive Branch of the USA.The executive branch of government administrates the laws passed by Congress. The President of the US presides over the executive branch. He is elected to a four-year term and he can be re-elected to a second term.

The vice-president, who is elected with the president, has only two constitutional duties. The first duty is to preside over the Senate, but the vice-president may vote only in the event of a tie. The second duty is to take the presidency if the president dies, becomes disabled, or is removed from the office.


The Judicial Branch of the USA.The third branch of the government is the judicial branch, which is headed by the Supreme Court. Under the Supreme Court, there are many state and federal courts. An important function of the judicial branch is to check whether the laws of Congress or the actions of the president violate the Constitution. So, the Court can declare presidential acts and Congress laws unconstitutional.

The President appoints judges to the Supreme Court. The Congress can impeach and remove judges from the offices.

Chief Justice (the chief judge) presides over impeachment of the president.


The Political Parties of the US.The US has had only two major parties throughout its history. When the nation was founded, there were two political groupings – the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Since then, two major parties have changed in power.

For over one hundred years, America’s two-party system has been dominated by the Democratic and Republican parties. Neither party, however, has ever completely dominated American politics. On the national level, the majority party in Congress has not always been the same as the party of the president.

Even in years, when one party dominated national politics, the other party still had much support at state or local levels. So, the balance changes between the Democrats and Republicans.

There are also minor or “third” parties in the US but they cannot attract enough voters to get power. Some minor parties of the US at present are the American Independent Party, the Libertarian Party, and the Peace and Freedom Party.

Ø 2) Write a summary of the text.


The President of the USA


Ø 1) Do you know who the current President of the USA is? Is he a Democrat or a Republican? Do you know anything about his educational, ethnic or social background?

Ø 2) Read and translate the first text into Russian.


Do you want to be president of the United States of America? Maybe you can apply for a job. Answer these three questions. Are you a U.S. citizen? Are you thirty five years old or older? Have you been a resident of the United States for fourteen years or longer? Did you say “yes” to all three questions? Then you can take the first steps to the White House.

You become President for a term. A term is four years. You can only serve two terms. This means that you can only be President twice. This became law in 1951. Before that, the law was different. In fact, Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933. He was still President when he died in 1945. He was President for twelve years. No one was President longer than he was.

As President of the United States, you earn $200,000 a year. You also get extra $50,000 for expenses, tax free. You have your own limousine, jet, and housekeepers, all free. You also live rent free, in the White house, D.C. And you are Head of the richest country in the world.

Presidents of the United States are very different people. Twenty two were lawyers, four soldiers, four farmers, four teachers, two writers, two businessmen, one tailor, and one actor. Eight of them didn’t have a college education!

Ø 3) Read and translate the second text and indicate the differences between the two texts.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, the second President of the United States, even at his best did not make an impressive appearance. Yet, though a very ineffective public speaker, he charmed everybody in conversation, and he wrote with greater literary skill than any president before or since, with the exceptions of Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson. More than that, he was a genius. Besides being a politician and a diplomat, he was an architect, educator, inventor, scientific farmer, and philosopher-scientist. As a shrewd and practical politician, he was excelled by no other president, though he was equaled by Lincoln and by Franklin D. Roosevelt.


George Washington


Ø 1) What do you know of George Washington? What was he (politician, farmer, military officer, inventor, president, commander-in chief)? How does the country commemorate him?


George Washington was the first President of the United States of America. He was born on February 22, 1732 in Virginia. At the age of 20 he became an adjutant in the Virginia militia. In 1759, he married Martha Dandridge Castes, a widow, and settled down as a gentleman farmer at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

From 1759 to the outbreak of the American Revolution, Washington managed his lands around Mount Vernon and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses.

When the Second Continental Congress took place in Philadelphia in May 1775, Washington, one of the Virginia delegates, was elected Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.

On October 19, 1781 the war against British influence was over, but the Nation was not functioning well. So Washington became the prime mover in the steps leading to the Constitutional Congress at Philadelphia in 1787. Two years later he was elected President. He was the head of the country for eight years (1789-1797).

George Washington died of a throat infection in Virginia on December 14, 1799. For months the Nation mourned him.

Ø 2) Decide which of the following sentences may be included into this text:

a)George Washington, the president-elect, had presided at the convention;

b)He received the votes of all the presidential electors from the states;

c)Washington was inaugurated on April 30;

d)The responsibilities of the first president were greater than of any president to follow;

e)President Washington selected department heads and other high officials who were qualified by character or experience and who supported the Constitution;

f)As President, George Washington thought it was his duty to see that the laws of Congress, if constitutional, were carried out,

g)A man of strong will, George Washington was the master of his own administration;

h)George Washington, forty-three years old, responsible by nature, had more command experience than any other American-born officer available and he had political as well as military qualifications;

i)As early advocate of independence, he was admired and trusted by nearly all the Patriots;

j)A Virginian, he had the support not only of Southerners but also of Northerners. He took command in June 1775.



John Kennedy


Ø 1) Put the following paragraphs in the proper order to get a cohesive text.

Ø 2) What facts of the Kennedy’s family do you know? Write down a few sentences about the Kennedys.

(1)On November 22nd, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. He was riding in an open car through the streets of Dallas, Texas.

(2)After having survived World War II, John Kennedy returned home to Massachusetts. His older brother did not. Joseph Kennedy Junior was killed in the war. The Kennedy family had always believed Joe Junior would someday become President of the United States. After his death, that goal fell to his younger brother. In 1946, John Kennedy was elected to the United States House of Representatives, and served until 1952. Then he was elected senator from Massachusetts. He served in the Senate until 1960 when he was elected President.

(3)He joined the United States Navy during World War Two and was commander of a small attack boat in the South Pacific Ocean. A Japanese ship destroyed the boat. Two of the men were killed. The others swam to a nearby island, where John Kennedy spent the next four days searching for help. The crew was rescued. Later, Kennedy was honored for saving the life of one of his crewmen.

(4)His death ended the time in American politics that has been known ever since as “Camelot.” Jacqueline Kennedy named the years of her husband’s presidency after the imaginary time of peace and good will in ancient Britain. She said her husband liked the song from the musical play called “Camelot”.

(5)John Kennedy graduated from Harvard University in 1940. His final paper became the best selling book, “Why England Slept.”

Ø 3) Put the given sentences into the proper places in the text:

a)President Kennedy inherited the problem of Vietnam, which began in 1950 when President Truman gave financial help to the French in their war against the Vietnamese. After the defeat of the French President Eisenhower gave moral and material support to the government of the southern part of Vietnam. President Kennedy increased the American personnel to 15,500.

b)Kennedy was becoming convinced that the government must do more for the African Americans, to whose votes he owed his victory in the 1960 election.

c)The competition between the USSR and the USA began when in October 1957 the first Russian satellite was put into orbit.



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