Federalism is a system of government where the national governments and the state governments share powers. It is the basis of the Constitution and the US government.
As a result of the relationship between the state and federal government, there are powers that are exclusive to the states, powers exclusive to the federal government, and powers that are shared.
The powers that exclusively belong to the national government are called delegated or enumerated powers.
Powers that are shared by the federal and state governments are called concurrent powers.
Delegated or enumerated powers are those that the national government controls. These include printing money, declaring war, regulating interstate trade, making treaties and working with foreign policy, and regulating international trade. Reserving these powers specifically for the national government, unifies the United States under a strong central government.
Concurrent powers include collecting taxes, land for public use like building roads, borrow money, and establishing and operating court systems.
There are also powers that are specific to the states. These powers are regulating intrastate commerce, conducting elections, making local governments, and ratifying constitutional amendments. Having powers exclusively for the states makes sure that the national government is not becoming too powerful.
It is also important to understand that power between the national and state governments fluctuates in order to meet the needs of society.
Historically, in times of crisis, the powers of the national government were escalated in order to provide necessary aid to the states. A current example of this is the Covid-19 outbreak in the United States. Many states are currently in need of medical supplies and aid by the federal government in order to deal with the exponential increase of cases in their states.
Some ways that the federal government can respond is through incentives, aid programs, and grants.
Categorical grants are federal aid given to states with rules in place. In order to receive the money, the states must agree to the federally mandated rules. These rules usually deal with how the money will be spent.
Another type of grant is the block grant. This type of grant is less regulated than categorical grants. For block grants, the states have some authority on what they want to use the federal aid for.
There are also mandates that can be funded or unfunded. When the federal government wants the state to do something and they give them federal aid to do so, then it is a funded mandate. This is because the federal government is giving the states money.
An unfunded mandate is when the federal government requires the states to perform actions without providing them federal aid. It is unfunded because the states must conform to the regulations on their own without any federal aid.