Delegated powers are those powers granted to the national government under the United States Constitution.
The most important delegated powers are found in Article I of the Constitution, which focuses primarily on the national legislature (the United States Congress). This article lays out in specific detail the powers possessed by Congress and, critically, the powers Congress does not exercise.
Article I, Section 8 is essentially a laundry list of the things that Congress may do. The most prominent items on this list include the "power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States...." This section also includes the following powers:
- ...To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
- To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;
- To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;
- To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures...
Section 8 also assigns to Congress wide ranging powers over the military, including but not limited to:
- To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
- To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;
- To provide and maintain a navy....
The explicit mention of these power and others explicitly mentioned in other articles of the Constitution raises the question of whether the national government and Congress can exercise powers not explicitly mentioned. The framers were careful to make some powers explicitly off-limits. These are the powers denied to Congress. The framers composed a separate list of the powers denied to the states.