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Aim: What role does Congress play in our government?

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Aim: What role does Congress play in our government? Do Now: When do you hear about Congress in the news? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Aim: What role does Congress play in our government?


1
  • Aim What role does Congress play in our
    government?
  • Do Now When do you hear about Congress in the
    news?

2
Congress
US CAPITOL BUILDING
Legislative Branch makes laws
3
  • If progress is the advancement of society, what
    is congress?

4
Facts About Congress
  • House of Representatives
  • Serve 2 year terms
  • Not as prestigious
  • 435 members
  • Based on population
  • Senate
  • Serve a 6 year term
  • Considered an exclusive club
  • 100 members
  • Based on equal representation

5
Founders Intentions
  • Strongest branch
  • Separation of lawmaking power from executive
  • Bicameralism balances large/small states
  • House more connected to people (2 yr term)
  • Senate allows for independent thinking (6 yr
    term)

6
Important Differences
  • House
  • 435 members
  • 2 year term
  • 7 year citizen
  • 25 years old
  • Initiates impeachment
  • Revenue bills
  • Strict debate rules
  • Senate
  • 100 members
  • 6 year term
  • 9 year citizen
  • 30 years old
  • Tries impeachment
  • Approve presidential appointments
  • Approve treaties
  • Loose debate rules

7
Constitutional Powers
  • Article I, Section 8
  • To lay and collect taxes, duties, imports
  • To borrow money
  • To regulate commerce (states and foreign)
  • To establish rules for naturalization
  • To coin money
  • To create courts (except Supreme Court)
  • To declare war
  • To raise and support an army and navy

8
Evolution of Powers
  • Elastic clause has extended Congress powers
  • Oversight of budget can restrict the fed.
    budget prepared by executive branch
  • Appropriations set amount of money made
    available for various activity in a fiscal year
  • Investigation Congress can launch
    investigations (Watergate, Clinton-Lewinski
    hearings, Steroids in baseball)

9
Whos in Congress?
  • 110th Congress (2007-2008)
  • 85 male
  • 85 White
  • 40 Lawyers
  • 109th Congress (2005-2006)
  • 29 accused of spousal abuse
  • 7 have been arrested for fraud
  • 19 arrested for writing bad checks
  • 117 have bankrupted at least 2 businesses
  • 8 have been arrested for shoplifting
  • In 1998 alone, 84 were stopped for drunk driving

10
Elections
  • House members directly elected
  • Senators directly elected after 17th Amend
  • House Incumbent advantage Why?
  • Name recognition
  • Proven track record
  • Franking privileges free mailing

11
New York Districts
12
New York 2nd District
Steve Israel (Democrat)
13
House Size
  • 435 Members
  • Constitution requires reapportionment every ten
    years based on the census
  • States can gain or lose representatives

14
Problems to Solve in Determining Congressional
Districts
  1. Determine total size of the House
  2. Allocating seats in the House among the states
  3. Determining the size of Congressional districts
    within the states
  4. Determining the shape of those districts.

15
What issues are related to Congressional
redistricting?
  • Malapportionment drawing the boundaries of
    legislative districts so they are unequal in
    population
  • Gerrymandering drawing the boundaries of
    legislative districts in bizarre or unusual
    shapes to favor one party.

16
Landmark Cases
  • Baker v. Carr (1962) The Supreme Court has
    jurisdiction over legislative apportionment
  • Gray v. Sanders (1963) One person, One vote
  • Wesberry v. Sanders (1964) found unequal
    district pop. unconstitutional 14th amend
  • One person, One vote
  • Reynolds v. Sims (1964) State legislature
    districts had to be roughly equal in population
  • Easley v. Cromartie (2001) redistricting for
    political ideology was constitutional, led to
    increase in minority reps

17
Wesberry v. Sanders some further information
  • Malapportionment was a major problem throughout
    the South where rural areas, populated mostly by
    whites, had more political power than urban
    areas, populated mostly by minorities.
  • Supreme court case of Wesberry v Sanders created
    the concept of one person, one vote
  • The result of Wesberry was that urban areas were
    now more evenly represented - and notice how
    after 1964 public policies suddenly started to
    change

18
Powers of Congress
  • Represent Constituents, Make Laws
  • Unique Powers of each house
  • House of Reps Initiate tax laws and spending
    bills, impeachment
  • House Ways and Means Committee Oversees taxing
    and spending
  • Senate Confirmation of Presidential
    appointments federal court, ambassadorships,
    cabinet positions, ratify treaties, impeachment
    trial
  • Neither House may Pass Bills of Attainder, Ex
    Post Facto Laws, Grant titles of nobility, tax
    exports

19
Non Legislative (non-lawmaking) Tasks
  • Oversight investigate charges of corruption and
    waste
  • Public Education bring national attention to
    important issues
  • Impeachment of Officials
  • Amending the Constitution (w. State Legislatures)
  • 2/3 Vote by Members of Congress
  • 3/4 Approved by State Legislatures
  • Advice and Consent (confirmations)

20
Leadership
  • Majority party controls the most significant
    leadership positions
  • House - Speaker of the House
  • Allows people to speak on floor
  • Assigns bills to committees
  • Influences which bills are brought to a vote
  • Appoints members of special and select committees
  • Senate Majority Leader
  • Schedules Senate business
  • Prioritizes bills

21
The Senate
  • Vice Pres. is the President of the Senate (tie
    breaker)
  • The majority party picks a senior member to be
    the President Pro Tempore in the VPs absence
    (honorific title)
  • Majority Leader elected by majority party
  • Is recognized first in any debate
  • Minority Leader elected by minority party

22
Whats the whip?
Whips, deputy whips Senator or Representative
who 1. ensures members are present to vote 2.
keeps track of how party members will vote on
bills 3. persuades party members to vote a
certain way
23
Senate Leadership
Joe Biden
Patrick Leahy
PRESIDENT of the SENATE (VICE PRESIDENT)
Harry Reid
PRES. PRO TEMPORE
Mitch McConnell
MAJORITY LEADER (MOST POWERFUL)
MINORITY LEADER
Dick Durbin
John Cornyn
MAJORITY WHIP
MINORITY WHIP
24
House of Representatives
  • Speaker of the House elected by majority party
  • Powerful position
  • 3rd in line to become president (after VP)
  • Decides who will be recognized to speak
  • Rules on which topics are relevant
  • Influences committee assignments
  • Names members to select committees and conference
    committees
  • Influences which bills get to the floor for
    debate
  • Sets the calendar for when bills will be addressed

25
House Leadership
John Boehner
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
Nancy Pelosi
Eric Cantor
MINORITY LEADER
MAJORITY LEADER
MINORITY WHIP
MAJORITY WHIP
Steny Hoyer
Kevin McCarthy
26
Caucuses
  • Association of Congress members created to
    advance a political ideology, or a regional,
    economic, or ethnic interest
  • Approves committee assignments
  • Elects committee leaders
  • Helps build consensus on legislative agenda of
    the party
  • Congressional Black Caucus is one notable caucus
    of democrats

27
Types of Committees
  • Standing Committee Permanently established
    legislative committee that consider and are
    responsible for legislation within a certain
    subject area
  • Can propose legislation by reporting a bill out
    to the full House or Senate
  • Select Committees Appointed for a limited time
    and purpose
  • Joint Committees Committees on which both
    Senators and Representatives serve an important
    joint committee is a Conference Committee
    appointed to resolve differences in the Senate
    and House versions of the same bill

28
Committee Composition
  • The Committee Chair is a powerful position
  • The majority party makes up a majority of each
    committee and names the chairperson
  • Each House member serves on two Standing
    Committees (one if they are on an exclusive
    committee i.e. Ways and Means, Appropriations)
  • Each Senator may serve on two major committees
    and one minor committee

29
Decentralization of Congress
  • Today, power is more decentralized than in the
    past members must work for their constituents
    and not always for the party
  • Chairmen cannot always block legislation or
    discourage junior members
  • Process of lawmaking is slower for this reason
    more amendments to bills are proposed

30
Important Committees
  • House of Representatives
  • House Rules Committee determines rules under
    which bills will be considered (time limits,
    amendments)
  • House Appropriations Committee funding for
    contracts and agencies
  • House Ways and Means Committee taxation,
    tariffs, and entitlement programs (welfare,
    social security, unemployment, Medicare)

31
  • Senate
  • Senate Appropriations Committee Funding for
    government agencies
  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee Foreign aid
    and policy

32
Congressional member behavior
  • Members may be devoted to constituents, their own
    views, pressure groups, or party leaders
  • Representational view members vote to please
    their constituents, often to win reelection
  • Organizational view if not voting for their
    constituents, vote along party lines, committees
  • Attitudinal view members ideology determines
    members vote. Members of House more along lines
    of average voter, Senators less so
  • Either way, member behavior is not
  • usually obvious

33
Reforming Congress Areas which could be
reformed
  • Franking Privilege the ability of members to
    mail letters to their constituents free of
    charge
  • Pork Barrel Legislation Legislation that gives
    tangible benefits to constituents in several
    districts or states in the hope of winning their
    votes in return (highways, dams, post offices)
  • Party Polarization A vote in which a majority of
    Democratic Legislators oppose a majority of
    Republican legislators
  • Term Limits should members of Congress have term
    limits?

34
Ethics
  • Senate
  • Gifts no more than 100 except from spouse or
    personal friend
  • Lobbyists may not pay for gifts, travel, or
    charitable contributions to groups controlled by
    senators
  • Fees No fees for lectures or writings
    (honoraria) except for charity in certain
    circumstances
  • Outside income may not exceed 15 percent of
    Senators salary
  • Ex Senators may not try to influence members of
    Congress for one year after leaving Senate
  • House
  • Gifts no more than 100 except from spouse or
    personal friend
  • Lobbyists may not pay for gifts or travel, even
    if lobbyists is spouse or personal friend
  • Travel House members may travel at the expense
    of others if travel is for officially connected
    meetings
  • No honoraria
  • Ex members may not lobby Congress for one year
    after leaving office

35
  • Why are members of the House more concerned about
    their committee membership than senators?
  • What factors might influence the decisions of a
    committee when considering legislation?
  • Why might a member of Congress try to get on
    certain committees?
  • To what extent do the opinions of committee
    members reflect public opinion?
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