The bicameral National Congress comprises the legislature, and members of both houses (Senate and Chamber of Deputies) are elected by universal adult suffrage to serve four year terms. The legislators that will represent Dominicans from 16 August 2006 to 16 August 2010 were elected by direct vote in congressional elections held 16 May 2006.
Legislators are elected to legislate or make the laws that are to regulate Dominican society, as per the mandates established by the Constitution. These are to effectively protect the human rights and provide the means so that the individual can progress.
National Congress 2006-2010
The duties of the Congress:
- Create taxes and determine how these will be collected and spent.
Approve or reject the collection and expenditures reports submitted by the Executive Branch.
- Study the observations that the Executive Branch may carry out to bills. Provide for the conservation and expansion of national patrimony as well as the transfer of national property. Dispose over all concerning the conservation of monuments and ancient artifacts as well as the acquisition of these.
- Approve or not the National Budget and the extraordinary expenditures for which the Executive Branch may request credit for.
- Create or abolish provinces, municipalities and other political divisions of the national territory and determine all matters relative to frontiers and territorial organization.
- Adopt all migratory measures.
- Create the courts of the country, including increasing or reducing the number of courts of appeal.
- Approve loans based on the nation's credit signed by the Executive Power.
- Approve or reject international treaties signed by the Executive Power.
- Legislate on matters relative to the public debt.
- Declare the need to modify the Constitution.
- Authorize the President of the Republic to be abroad for more than 15 days.
- Examine every year the acts of the Executive Branch and approve these if they conform with the Constitution and laws.
- Legislate on all matters that are not the competence of another government branch or are contrary to the Constitution.
The National Senate
The Senate is made up of 32 senators, that is one for each province and one for the National District (Santo Domingo).
Its exclusive attributes are:
- Elect the President and other members of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) and substitutes.
- Elect the members of the Chamber of Accounts.
- Approve or not the diplomatic appointments made by the Executive Power.
- Hear the accusations made by the Chamber of Deputies against government officials elected for a specific term, for disorderly behavior or serious misdeeds in the exercise of their functions. In matter of accusation, the Senate cannot impose another penalty that is not the destitution from the post. The destitute person is, nevertheless, subject to be judged according to the prevailing legal dispositions. The Senate can only dismiss a functionary with the concurrence of three-fourth parts of the total membership of the Senate.
The Chamber of Deputies
The Chamber of Deputies is made up of members elected for four years by popular vote each representing 50,000 inhabitants, plus a fraction exceeding 25,000, of every province and the National District. As of 2006, there are 178 deputies in the Chamber of Deputies. Their term ends in August 2010.
The Chamber of Deputies is the body in charge of accusing before the Senate government officials for disorderly behavior or serious misdeeds in the exercise of their functions. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of three fourths of the total membership of the Chamber of Deputies.