The National Legislative Power

TITLE V THE NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE POWER

CHAPTER I General Provisions

Article 138
The Legislative Power is exercised by Congress, which is composed of two Chambers: the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies .

The Senate and Chamber of Deputies shall meet in joint session in those cases indicated in this Constitution and the laws, and to enact the regulations for Congress or whenever both Chambers so decide because they consider it necessary.

The President of the Senate and the President of the Chamber of Deputies shall preside over Congress as President and Vice President respectively. The regulations shall establish the manner of filling their temporary or occasional absences.

The Delegated Committee of Congress and all other Committees formed by the Chambers shall perform the functions given to them by this Constitution and the regulations.

Article 139
Congress shall legislate on matters within the national competence and on the functioning of the different branches of the National Power.

It is the privilege of Congress to decree amnesties, which it shall do by special law.

Congress also exercises control of the National Public Administration within the terms established by this Constitution.

Article 140:

The following may not be elected Senators or Deputies:
  1. The President of the Republic, the Ministers, the Secretary to the President of the Republic, and the President and Director of autonomous institutes until three months after total separation from their posts;
  2. The Governors and Secretaries of Government of the States, the Federal District, and Federal Territories until three months after total separation from their posts, if the representation corresponds to their jurisdiction, or while in office if another jurisdiction is concerned; and
  3. National, state, or municipal officials and employees and those of autonomous institutes or of enterprises in which the State has a deciding participation, if the election will take place in the jurisdiction where they serve, except in cases of temporary, electoral, welfare, teaching, or academic positions, or of legislative or municipal representation.
  4. The law may establish the ineligibility of certain electoral officials.
Article 141
Senators and Deputies may accept posts as Minister, Secretary to the President of the Republic, Governor, chief of diplomatic mission, or President of an Autonomous Institute, without losing their office.

To hold them they must withdraw from the pertinent Chamber, but may rejoin it upon leaving those functions. The acceptance of different mandates by popular election, in cases permitted by law does not authorize holding them simultaneously.

Article 142
Senators or Deputies may not be held liable at any time for votes cast or opinions expressed in the exercise of their functions. They shall be liable only to the pertinent body in accordance with this Constitution and the regulations.

Article 143
Senators and Deputies shall enjoy immunity from the date on which they are proclaimed elected until twenty days after the end of their term or their resignation, and consequently they may not be arrested, detained, confined or subjected to criminal trial, search of their person or home, or restrained in the performance of their functions.

In case of flagrante delicto of a serious nature committed by a Senator or Deputy, the competent authority shall place him in custody at his residence and immediately notify the pertinent Chamber or the Delegated Committee of the fact, with a duly detailed report. This measure shall cease if within a period of ninety-six hours the pertinent Chamber or the Delegated Committee does not authorize his remaining in that situation until a decision is reached on the search and seizure.

Public officials or employees who violate the immunity of Senators and Deputies incur criminal liability and be punished according to law.

Article 144
The court that hears accusations or complaints against any member of Congress shall undertake the necessary indictment proceedings and transmit them to the Supreme Court of Justice for the purposes of section 2 of article 215 of this Constitution. If the Court rules that there are grounds for continuation of the case, the trial shall not be held until the search and seizure are first approved by the respective Chamber or the Delegated Committee.

Article 145
The Chamber or the Delegated Committee may not agree to the search and seizure except at a session expressly convoked, at least twenty-four hours in advance, and by a considered decision approved by an absolute majority of the members.

Article 146
In cases in which the search and seizure have been approved by the Delegated Committee, the pertinent Chamber may revoke it at its sessions immediately following.

Article 147
Parliamentary immunity is suspended for a Senator or Deputy while he is holding a public office that involves separation from the Chamber or while he is on leave of absence for a time exceeding twenty days, provided that the summoning of his alternate is in order according to the regulations.

Alternates shall enjoy immunity while representing their principals, from the time they are summoned until twenty days after the representation ceases.

CHAPTER II The Senate

Article 148
To form the Senate two Senators shall be elected from each State by universal and direct vote and two from the Federal District, plus any additional Senators resulting from the application of the principle of representation of minorities as established by law, which shall also determine the number and manner of election of alternates.
Also members of the Senate are those citizens who have held the Presidency of the Republic by popular election or have held it, in accordance with article 187 of this Constitution, for more than half a term, unless they have been convicted of an offense committed in the performance of their functions.

Article 149
To be a Senator a person must be a Venezuelan by birth and over thirty years of age.

Article 150:

The powers of the Senate are:
  1. To initiate the discussion of bills relating to treaties and international agreements;
  2. To authorize the National Executive to alienate real property from the private domain of the Nation, with such exceptions as the law may establish;
  3. To authorize public officials or employees to accept posts, honors, or recompense from foreign governments;
  4. To authorize the use of Venezuelan military missions abroad or of foreign missions within the country, at the request of the National Executive;
  5. To authorize the promotion of officers of the Armed Forces from Colonel or Naval Captain inclusive;
  6. To authorize the President of the Republic to leave the national territory;
  7. To authorize the appointment of the Attorney General of the Republic and the chiefs of permanent diplomatic missions;
  8. To authorize, by vote of a majority of its numbers, the trial of the President of the Republic following a ruling by the Supreme Court of Justice that there are grounds therefore. If the trial is authorized, the President of the Republic is suspended from office .
  9. To grant to illustrious Venezuelans who have rendered eminent services to the Republic the honors of the National Pantheon, when twenty-five years have elapsed since their death;
  10. Any others assigned to it in this Constitution or the laws.
CHAPTER III The Chamber of Deputies

Article 151
To form the Chamber of Deputies the number of Deputies determined by law according to the required population base, which may not exceed one percent of the total population of the country, shall be elected by universal and direct vote and with proportional representation of minorities.

The law shall fix the number and manner of election of alternates .
At least two Deputies shall be elected in each State.

Article 152
In order to be a Deputy a person must be a Venezuelan by birth and over twenty-one years of age.

Article 153:

The powers of the Chamber of Deputies are:
  1. To initiate the discussion of the budget and of any bill concerning the system of taxation;
  2. To adopt a vote of censure of the Ministers.
    A motion of censure may only be discussed two days after it is presented to the Chamber, which may decide, by two thirds of the Deputies present, that the vote of censure includes removal of the Minister. It may, in addition, order his trial;
  3. Any others assigned to it in this Constitution and the laws.
CHAPTER IV Common Provisions

Article 154
The regular sessions of the Chambers shall begin, without the necessity of prior convocation, on March 2 of each year or the most immediately subsequent day possible and shall last until the following July 6. These regular sessions shall resume each year from October 1, or the most immediately subsequent day possible, until November 30, both inclusive. In the last year of a constitutional term the regular session shall last from March 2 until August 15. In any case, the Chambers in joint session, by a vote of an absolute majority of their members, may prolong these periods, when necessary, for the dispatch of pending matters.

Article 155
Congress shall meet in special sessions to deal with matters stated in the convocation and others connected therewith. It may also consider those declared to be urgent by either Chamber.

Article 156
The requirements and procedures for the installation and other sessions of the Chambers, and for the functioning of their Committees, shall be determined by the regulations.
A quorum may in no case be less than an absolute majority of the members of each Chamber.

Article 157
The Chambers shall open and close simultaneously, and they must meet in the same town. Any difference that may arise between them shall be resolved in joint session, by the vote of an absolute majority of those present.

Article 158
The following are exclusive powers of each of the legislative bodies:
  1. To issue its regulations and apply such sanctions as are established therein against those who infringe them. The temporary removal of a Senator or Deputy may be approved only by a two-thirds vote of those present;
  2. To rule on the qualifications of its members and take cognizance of their resignations;
  3. To organize its police services;
  4. To remove obstacles that may prevent the exercise of its functions;
  5. To approve and execute its budget of expenses on the basis of the annual item fixed in the pertinent law;
  6. To execute and order the execution of resolutions concerning its functioning and the exclusive powers previously enunciated.
Article 159
Acts of the legislative bodies in the exercise of their exclusive powers shall not be subject to the veto, examination, or control of the other powers, except as provided in this Constitution concerning the abuse of powers.

Article 160
The legislative bodies or their Committees may undertake any investigation they dean advisable, in conformity with the regulations.

All officials of the public administration and of the autonomous institutes are obligated, under penalty of such sanctions as are establish by law, to appear before them and to furnish such information and documents as are required for the fulfillment of their functions.

This obligation is also incumbent on private individuals, except as limited by the rights and guarantees established by this Constitution.

In all cases the interested party shall be notified of the purpose of his summons at least forty-eight hours in advance.

Article 161
Exercise of the power of investigation to which the preceding article refers does not affect the authority appertaining to the Judicial Power in accordance with this Constitution and the laws.

Judges shall be obligated to adduce evidence for which they receive a request from the legislative bodies.

CHAPTER V Enactment of laws

Article 162
Acts approved by the Chambers as co-legislative bodies shall be termed laws. Laws which systematically assemble the rules relating to a given subject may be termed Codes.

Article 163
Organic laws are those which are so designated by this Constitution and those which are invested with this character by an absolute majority of each Chamber when the pertinent bill is introduced there.

Laws which are enacted on matters governed by organic laws shall be subject to the norms of the latter.

Article 164
Bills may be introduced in either Chamber, except those which by special provision of this Constitution must necessarily be introduced in either the Senate or the Chamber of Deputies .

Article 165:
The initiative for bills appertains to:
  1. The Delegated Committee of Congress or the Permanent Committees of either Chamber;
  2. The National Executive;
  3. Senators and Deputies numbering not less than three;
  4. The Supreme Court of Justice, when the laws concerned relate to judicial organization or procedures;
  5. Not less than twenty thousand voters, identified according to law.
Article 166
Every bill shall have at least two discussions in each Chamber, on different days and in full Chamber, in accordance with the rules established in this Constitution and in their respective regulations.

Article 167
When a bill is approved in one of the Chambers it shall be sent to the other. If the latter approves it without amendments, it becomes sanctioned as law. If it approves it with amendments it shall return it to the Chamber of origin.

If the Chamber of origin accepts the amendments, it is thereby sanctioned as law. Otherwise, the Chambers in joint sessions shall decide by majority vote what is to be done with the articles on which there are discrepancies and those having a connection with them, and they may agree on a text different from that adopted by either Chamber. When the differences have been settled, the Presidency shall declare the law sanctioned.

Article 168
A bill approved by one Chamber may be approved by the other in a single discussion if declared urgent by two thirds of its members.

Article 169
Bills rejected may not be considered again in either Chamber during the sessions of the same year, unless presented by an absolute majority of one of them.

The discussion of bills that are pending at the end of one session may be continued in the following sessions if so decided by the pertinent Chamber.

Article 170
In the discussion of laws relating to judicial organization and procedure, Ministers have the right to voice in the discussion of laws. A Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice designated by the latter for that purpose has the same right.

Article 171:
The text of laws shall obey the following formula
"The Congress of the Republic of Venezuela, Decrees".

Article 172
As soon as a law is sanctioned it shall be issued in duplicate in the final text resulting from the discussions. Both copies shall be signed by the President, the Vice President, and the Secretaries of Congress, and shall bear the date of final approval. For purposes of promulgation, one of these copies shall be sent by the President of Congress to the President of the Republic.

Article 173
The President of the Republic shall promulgate the law within ten days after the date of receipt, but within that period he may, with the approval of the Council of Ministers, ask Congress for its reconsideration, by means of an explanatory statement in order that certain provisions may be amended or its sanction of all or part of the law be withdrawn.

The Chambers in joint session shall decide on the points raised by the President of the Republic and may write a new text for the provisions objected to and those connected with them.

When a decision has been adopted by two-thirds of those present, the President of the Republic shall proceed with the promulgation of the law within the five days following its receipt, and he may not offer new comments.

When the decision has been reached by simple majority, the President of the Republic may choose between promulgating the law and returning it to Congress within the same five-day period for a new and final reconsideration. The decision of the Chamber in joint session is definitive, even if by simple majority, and the promulgation of the law must be made within the five days following its receipt.

In any case, if the objection is based on unconstitutionality, the President of the Republic may, within the period fixed for promulgating of a law, have recourse to the Supreme Court of Justice, requesting its decision as to the alleged unconstitutionality. The Court shall decide within a period of ten days, counted from the date of receipt of the communication from the President of the Republic. If the Court denies the claim of unconstitutionality, or does not decide within the aforementioned period, the President of the Republic must promulgate the law within five days after the decision of the Court or the expiration of that period .

Article 174
A law shall become promulgated upon being published with the corresponding "C´┐Żmplase" (a formula of approval) in the Official Gazette of the Republic.

Article 175
Whenever the President of the Republic does not promulgate a law within the periods indicated, the President and Vice President of Congress shall proceed with its promulgation, without prejudice to any liability incurred by the President of the Republic for his omission. In such cases the promulgation of the law be made in the Official Gazette of the Republic or in the Gazette of Congress.

Article 176
The time period for the promulgation of a law approving an international treaty, convention, or agreement is left to the discretion of the National Executive, in conformity with international usage and the convenience of the Republic.

Article 177
Laws may be repealed only by other laws, and they may be amended wholly or in part. A law which has been partially amended shall be published in a single text which incorporates the amendments approved.

CHAPTER VI The Delegated Committee of Congress

Article 178
While the Chambers are in recess there shall function a Committee composed of the President, Vice President, and twenty-one members of Congress who, with their respective alternates, shall be elected in a manner that reflects as far as possible the political composition of the Congress. The pertinent regulations shall establish the manner and time of electing the Delegated Committee and its internal operation.

Article 179:
The Powers of the Delegated Committee of Congress are:
  1. To ensure the observance of the Constitution and respect for citizens' guarantees and to adopt far these purposes such measures as may be called for;
  2. To exercise the functions of investigation invested in the legislative bodies;
  3. To designate special committees consisting of members of Congress ;
  4. To convoke Congress into special session when the importance of a matter so demands;
  5. To authorize the National Executive, by a favorable vote of two thirds of its members, to create, modify, or abolish public services, in case of proven urgency;
  6. To authorize the National Executive to decree credits outside the Budget;
  7. To authorize the President of the Republic to leave the national territory temporarily;
  8. Any others conferred on it by this Constitution and the laws.
Article 180
The Delegated Committee shall report its actions to Congress.