The definition of “implied powers” applies to powers that are not expressly provided to Congress by the Constitution but are nevertheless exercised by it. They are considered to be “necessary and proper” for the effective execution of those powers granted to it by the Constitution.


The authors of the Constitution of the United States at the Philadelphia Convention set out to create a new strong federal government that would unite the disparate states of north and south. The primary political challenge for delegates was to create the necessary balance between the powers of Congress and the freedom of state discretion. The list of powers of Congress is expressed in the Constitution in order to provide a framework for its authority.

Nevertheless, Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 of the U.S. Constitution states that Congress should execute all “necessary and proper” powers,  which relate to the effective performance of the functions indicated in this section.

This provision is often called a “Necessary and Proper Clause” or an “Elastic Clause.” It is called elastic because the ability to exercise a particular power by the Congress depends on an interpretation as to whether this power relates to other powers of Congress explicitly expressed in the Constitution.

The purpose of incorporating this provision into the Constitution was to allow Congress to respond flexibly to the various situations requiring legislative intervention. For instance, although the Second Amendment to the Constitution provides for the right of citizens of the United States to possess and carry guns, Congress has repeatedly enacted Gun Control Laws.

Congress referred to Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution, which allows it to “regulate commerce among the several states.” Thus, Congress has a flexible instrument for implementing its policy in the form of an “Elastic Clause.”