What Is the Purpose of the Elastic Clause?

The elastic clause, also called the necessary and proper clause, was intended to provide Congress with the necessary means of passing laws in the best interest of the nation. It also helps to organize the government by giving Congress influence over other branches of government.

The elastic clause was a subject of great debate prior to its ratification. Some members of Congress argued that it unfairly gave Congress unlimited powers, which defeated the purpose of the U.S. Constitution. Proponents of the bill argued that the elastic clause does not give Congress any more powers than already granted to it by the Constitution; rather, it defines them by putting into writing what was already implied.

The elastic clause was a way to make sure that Congress had the means to do what it had been charged to do through the Constitution. The clause was at the center of the debate between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton about whether or not a national bank should be established when the United States was first formed. Jefferson argued that Congress did not have the constitutional right to establish a bank that would oversee all of the finances and debt for the nation. Hamilton argued that the elastic clause gave Congress that right.