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Essentials of American Government

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Title: Essentials of American Government


1
Essentials of American Government
  • Chapter 6 Congress

2
Nancy Pelosi
  • Democrat from California
  • First female speaker of the U.S. House of
    Representatives
  • Second in line to the president of the United
    States

3
Framers Intent
  • Not so much representatives of the people
  • More concerned that they would be a body that
    could make laws and govern the nation
  • Over time Congresses power has decreased but
    individual members importance has increased
  • So Americans hate congress and love their
    representatives

4
The Constitution and the Legislative Branch of
Government
  • Article I of the Constitution
  • The Great Compromise
  • Bicameral legislature
  • Requirements for membership
  • House
  • Senate

5
The Constitution and Congress
  • Article 1 of the Constitution
  • Requirements for congressmen (and women)

Senate 30 years old 9 years living in
U.S. Resident of state Six year terms
House 25 years old 7 years living in
U.S. Resident of state Two year terms
6
  • The Constitution and the Legislative Branch of
    Government
  • How Congress is Organized
  • The Members of Congress
  • How Members Make Decisions
  • The Law-making Function of Congress
  • Congress and the President
  • Congress and the Judiciary

7
How Congress is Organized
  • New Congress is seated every 2 years
  • among first items on agenda of new Congress
  • hierarchical leadership structure
  • Organizational Structure of the House of
    Representatives and the Senate in the
  • 110th Congress (Figure 6. 1)

8
The Role of Parties in Organizing Congress
  • the basic division in Congress
  • The 110th Congress (Figure 6.2)
  • majority party
  • minority party
  • two sessions
  • role of parties regarding committees
  • what happens at start of new
  • Congress in party caucus or conference?
  • Republican Committee on Committees
  • Democratic Steering Committee

9
The House of Representatives
  • the first Congress in 1798
  • more tightly organized than the Senate
  • more elaborately structured
  • governed by stricter rules
  • loyalty to leader and party line votes
  • the leadership
  • Speaker
  • majority and minority leaders
  • Republican and Democratic House whips

10
The House of Representatives
  • The Speaker of the House
  • how elected
  • elected by majority party
  • duties and role of Speaker
  • Other House Leaders
  • party caucus or conference
  • majority leader
  • where the two parties sit in the House chamber
  • minority leaderwhips

11
The Senate
  • presiding officer of the Senate, status and
    duties
  • official chair of the Senate
  • how president pro tempore is elected and his
    duties
  • duty of presiding over Senate rotates
  • majority leader of the Senate and duties
  • majority leader's power compared to Speaker's
    power
  • 110th Congress
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
  • Whips
  • Senate rules give tremendous power to individual
    senators
  • why called a "gentlemen's club"?

12
The Committee System
  • real legislative work of Congress takes place in
    committees
  • importance of committees in the House of
    Representatives
  • subcommittees provide greater specialization
  • Types of Committees
  • standing committees
  • joint committees
  • conference committees
  • Select (or special) committees
  • Committees of the 109th Congress (Table 6.2)
  • House Committee on Rules
  • power of standing committees
  • discharge petition
  • committee assignments in House and Senate
  • framing legislation in House and Senate
  • more individual input in Senate

13
Committee Membership
  • value of committee assignments to members
  • pork-
  • value of membership on some committees to
    campaign contributions
  • Appropriations and Budget Committees
  • party distribution and committee membership
  • share of committee membership for majority
    Democrats in 110th Congress
  • essential value of Rules Committee to the
    majority

14
Committee Chairs
  • power and prestige
  • staff
  • seniority
  • role of seniority in selecting committee chairs
    in House and in Senate

15
The Members of Congress
  • difficulties members face
  • constituencies that members of Congress must
    attempt to appease
  • A Day in the Life of a Member of Congress (Table
    6.3)-

16
Running for Office and Staying in Office
  • membership in one of the two major parties
    essential to being elected
  • Incumbency
  • general success of incumbents in reelection
  • reasons incumbents lost in 2006-

17
Congressional Demographics
  • general demographics of members of Congress
  • Education
  • Wealth
  • Age
  • Women
  • minorities in 2007 in the House and Senate
  • Female and Minority-Group Members of Congress,
    Selected Years (Figure 6.3)
  • Occupations
  • Veterans

18
Theories of Representation
  • Edmund Burke
  • Trustee
  • Delegate
  • Politico
  • minority representation in Congress

19
How Members Make Decisions
  • Party
  • members look to party leaders
  • increase of party votes where majorities of the
    two parties took opposing sides (from 1970 to
    mid-1990)
  • unanimity of votes in 107th and 108th Congress
  • party loyalty
  • voter discontent over Republican control of
    Congress and the 2006 midterm election results
  • divided government
  • percentage of voters in 2006 general election-day
    poll who stated a preference for divided
    government

20
How Members Make Decisions
  • Constituents
  • Constituents
  • how often do members vote in conformity with
    people in the districts?
  • how members of Congress gauge constituents'
    positions
  • Wedge issues

21
How Members Make Decisions
  • Colleagues and Congress
  • Logrolling
  • Special-interest caucuses
  • Barack Obama
  • Interest Groups, Lobbyists, and Political Action
    Committees
  • Primary functions of most lobbyists
  • Grassroots appeals
  • Source of campaign financing

22
How Members Make Decisions
  • Staff and Support Agencies
  • Members reliance on staff
  • Duties of staff
  • Influence of staff on voting
  • Committee staff
  • Congressional support offices

23
The Law-making Functions of Congress
  • Who can formally submit a bill for congressional
    consideration
  • Appropriate number of bills in 109th Congress
  • Appropriate number of bills introduced in 109th
    Congress that were made into law

24
The Law-making Functions of Congress
  • How a Bill becomes law
  • Multiple points of approval
  • How a bill becomes a law (Figure 6.4)
  • bill introduced
  • sponsors and co-sponsors
  • bill sent to committee
  • bill referred to subcommittee
  • hearings in subcommittee
  • subcommittee votes

25
The Law-making Functions of Congress
  • How a Bill becomes law
  • if passes subcommittee, bill returned to full
    committee
  • Markup
  • action on the House or Senate floor
  • House Committee on Rules
  • House budget bills

26
The Law-making Functions of Congress
  • How a Bill becomes law
  • Committee of the Whole
  • actions taken on floor
  • if bill survives
  • Hold
  • Filibusters
  • Cloture
  • when two chambers of Congress approve different
    versions of same bill

27
How a Bill becomes law
  • conference committee compromise returned to House
    and Senate for a vote (a bill must pass both
    houses in the same language to go to the
    president)
  • no changes or amendments
  • if bill passes
  • Veto
  • four options of president regarding veto within
    the ten days he has to consider the bill
  • 1)
  • 2)
  • 3)
  • 4)
  • pocket veto-

28
The Shifting Balance of Power
  • Congress responds to the executive branch
    proposals
  • criticisms of Congress

29
Congressional Oversight of the Executive Branch
  • Oversight
  • key to Congress's performance of its oversight
    function
  • committee hearings
  • Congress under Republican control abandons some
    oversight functions
  • Congressional Review Act of 1996
  • congressional review
  • federal agency regulations and the Congressional
    Review Act
  • Foreign Policy and National Security

30
Congressional Oversight of the Executive Branch
  • division of foreign policy powers between the
    Congress and the president under the Constitution
  • War Powers Act of 1973
  • limited effectiveness of War Powers Act
  • 2001 joint resolution authorizing president to
    use force against terrorists
  • Senator Jay Rockefeller letter to Vice President
    Dick Cheney regarding secret intelligence
    briefing information-

31
Confirmation of Presidential Appointments
  • Senate's special oversight function
  • confirmation of key members of executive branch
    and presidential appointments to the federal
    courts
  • what a wise president does before making
    controversial nominations-

32
Impeachment Process
  • ultimate oversight
  • Constitution vague about impeachment
  • treason, bribery, or other "high crimes and
    misdemeanors
  • what did Framers intend?
  • Hamilton in Federalist No. 65
  • U.S. House of Representatives record of
    impeachments
  • only four resolutions against presidents have
    resulted in further action
  • 1)
  • 2)
  • 3)
  • 4)

33
Congress and the Judiciary
  • Way in which Congress can exercise control over
    the federal judiciary
  • Senatorial courtesy
  • Setting jurisdiction of federal courts
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