The Legislative Branch | Congress


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  • The Legislative Branch | Congress

    1. 1. GOV4AThe Government of the USScott Thomas | May 2013
    2. 2. Exam success isnot a lottery!Know yourtermsKnow theArticlesKnow theExamples
    3. 3. Session 3The Legislative Branchof the US
    4. 4. The Legislative BranchConstitutional RoleCompositionDifferences between HousesImportance of the PartiesRoles of CongressRelationship withGovernment and SupremeCourt
    5. 5. Congress & The ConstitutionCongress is Article OnePowers outlined in thisare known asEnumerated powersSection 8 – Final ClauseElastic ClauseIf Article One referencesCongress surely it is the mostimportant branch?Divides Congress into twoHouse of RepresentativesSenateBicameral System isknown as theConnecticut CompromiseHouse Elected via Popular VoteSenate indirect elected until 1914
    6. 6. Concurrent Powers of CongressEqual Legislative PowerOverride Presidential VetoInitiate Constitutional AmendmentsDeclarations of WarConfirm appointed Vice Presidents
    7. 7. Declared Wars
    8. 8. Elastic Clause“to make all laws which shall be necessary andproper for carrying into execution theforegoing powers, and all other powers vestedin this Constitution in the Government of theUnited States, or in any department or officerthereof”Article 1, Section 8, Final Clause
    9. 9. House of Representatives
    10. 10. Make up of the House435 Seats200 Democrats232 Republicans3 VacantEach member represents a ‘Congressional District’States are given a number of districts in proportion to their populationHouse is presided over by the Speaker of the House
    11. 11. Key DemographicsGender Balance: Male 82% Female 28%Ethnicity:African American 41Asian 7Caucasian 336Hispanic 27Not Stated 22Other 5
    12. 12. Powers of the HouseKnown as Exclusive Powers• Initiate Money Bills– Power of the Purse• Impeachment– Voted to impeach Clinton in 1998• Elect a President should the Electoral CollegeDeadlock– John Quincy Adams elected President in Deadlock
    13. 13. Speaker of theHouse• Presiding Officer of theHouse• Second in PresidentialSuccession• Leader of Majority party inthe House normally becomesSpeaker through ballot• No requirement that theSpeaker be a member of theHouseJohn Boehner (R)Ohio 8th District
    14. 14. Role of the SpeakerNotably Partisan RoleSpeaker doesn’t typically debate or vote unless it’scloseResponsible for the passage o legislation and whichwill make it to the floorSpeaker normally designates to someone else topreside over the proceedings in the HouseResponsible for maintaining decorum in the House
    15. 15. House LeadershipJohn Boehner (R)Ohio 8th DistrictEric Cantor (R)Virginia 7th DistrictNancy Pelosi (D)California 12th DistrictSpeaker Majority Leader Minority Leader
    16. 16. Majority & Minority Leaders• Elected via closed doorparty caucus everyCongress• Represent the Party• Liaison betweenCongress and WhiteHouse• Day to Day director ofOperations on theHouse FloorLeaders More Important in The Senate
    17. 17. Running for the HouseElections are every 2 years (all elected)US Citizens for 7 yearsMust be a resident inrepresentative stateCandidates must be atleast 25 years oldSome states may impose a locality ruleYou need to first securethe nomination from yourPartyYou may need to win aPrimary ElectionYou May be challenged asan incumbent
    18. 18. Congressional DistrictsThe House has 435 SeatsThese are given to states depending onpopulation, roughly 700,000 people in eachdistrictEvery 10 years after a census the number ischanged per state
    19. 19. Congressional Districts
    20. 20. Gerrymandering• Gerrymandering is a form of redistricting inwhich electoral districts boundaries aredeliberately modified for electoral purposes,thereby producing a contorted or unusualshape.CGP Grey Explains:•Gerrymandering
    21. 21. GerrymanderingNegative: when used to allege that a party isgaining disproportionate power – packingdistricts with hardcore support form one party,creating wasted votes.Positive: producing a proportion ofconstituencies with an African-American orother minority in the majority (these are thencalled "minority-majority districts").
    22. 22. Some Brilliant Gerrymandering
    23. 23. US Senate
    24. 24. Make up of the Senate100 Seats53 Democrats45 Republicans2 IndependentsEach member represents a StateStates are allocated 2 Senators eachThe two Independents caucus with the Democrats, thus bringing Democrat majority to 55
    25. 25. Key DemographicsGender Balance: Male 80% Female 20%Ethnicity:African American 2Asian 1Caucasian 93Hispanic 2Not Stated 2
    26. 26. Voting in the States1 from each Party Both Democrats Both Republicans
    27. 27. Running for the SenateElections are every 2 years (1/3 of Senate)US Citizens for9 yearsMust be aresident inrepresentativestateCandidatesmust be atleast 30 yearsold You need to first securethe nomination from yourPartyYou may need to win aPrimary ElectionYou May be challenged asan incumbent
    28. 28. Powers of the SenateExclusive PowersConfirm Appointments– Supreme Court Nominees, ExecutiveAppointmentsRatify Treaties– Failed to ratify 1919 Treaty of VersaillesTry in Cases of Impeachment– 1998 Bill ClintonElect VP in Case of Electoral CollegeDeadlock
    29. 29. Senate LeadershipPatrick Leahy (D)VermontHarry Reid (D)NevadaMitch McConnell (R)KentuckyPresident Pro Tempore Majority Leader Minority Leader
    30. 30. FilibusterA device by which a Senator or Group ofSenators can attempt to talk a bill to death byusing delaying tactics.Strom Thurmond 1957Filibustered a Civil RightsBill for 24hrs 18minsRand Paul 2013Attempted to stop JohnBrennen’s appointment asCIA Director: 12hrs 52minsPower is derived from aSenator’s right tounlimited debateIf 3/5 of the House vote toend a filibuster it is knownas a Cloture Motion
    31. 31. Which is Better?Senate• Longer terms• Represent entire state• Easier to achieve more publicrecognition• More powers• Trying the accused• More committee places• Projection to a Presidency• Vote is worth more sobargaining more common• More likely to get a piece ofthe actionBUT!• House Controls money bills‘Power of the Purse’• Equal pay• Equal legislative powerDEMOCRATSLast 15 Vice PresidentialNominations: 14 wereSenators
    32. 32. Passage of a Bill in Congress• Concurrent Passage through Congress– Through both House and SenateProblems:• Concurrent Passage means there will bedifferences
    33. 33. First ReadingA formality – There is no debate and no voteTypically thousands of bills are introduced
    34. 34. Committee StageCongressional Standing Committees decide on which bills they are going to ‘hear’Many bills will not get a hearing and are said to be ‘pigeon holed’Pork Barrelling happens in this stageCommittees are normally filled with experts or specialistsBills may die if they can’t get reported out such as Clinton’s Healthcare Reforms
    35. 35. TimetablingHouse of RepresentativesThe House Rules Committee makes thedecisions on which Bills make it to the floorand how long they will be debated for.SenateThis is done by Unanimous ConsentAgreementMeaning Senate Leadership agree onwhich bills will make it to the floor
    36. 36. Second ReadingHouse of RepresentativesMembers debate and vote on the bill in theform that comes from the committeeSenateMembers debate and vote on the bill inthe form that comes from the committeeHere a bill may end up being filibustered
    37. 37. Third ReadingHouse of RepresentativesFinal opportunity to debate the bill.Debate would tend to small before the voteSenateFinal opportunity to debate the bill.Debate would tend to small before thevote
    38. 38. Conference CommitteeDue to concurrent passage of the bills different bills will be produced. A conferencecommittee was typically used to reconcile the two bills.Typically only 10% of bills go this route nowCongressional Leadership now typically reconcile the bill.
    39. 39. Presidential Action3 OptionsSign Bill in to LawLeave it on the Desk – Becomes law after 10 daysVeto – Sent it back to CongressPocket Veto – within the last 10 days of Congress an unsigned bill will die
    40. 40. Congressional CommitteesMost important part of the Legislative ProcessMembers of Congress will seek assignment tocommittees so they can get pork projects fortheir constituentsWashington State members will seek DefenseCommittee seatsUnlike the UK the committeestage is before the 2nd Reading
    41. 41. Functions of CommitteesBranch of Congress FunctionSenate & House Conduct the Committee Stage in thepassage of a billE.g. 1993 Bill Clinton’s Healthcare reformSenate & House Conduct investigations into the area ofthat committeeE.g. Senate Foreign Relations Committee –NATO EnlargementSenate ONLY Confirm some appointments such asSupreme Court Judges, Cabinet PostsE.g. Robert Bork or Clarence Thomas
    42. 42. House Rules CommitteeThe Traffic Cop of the HouseIt’s job is prioritising the bills for votes on thefloor of the HouseIt can attach time limits and rules to the debatesof a bill13 Members9 Majority Party4 Minority PartyPete Sessions TX (R)
    43. 43. Select CommitteesKnown as ‘Special’ or ‘Investigative’Formed on an ad hoc basis for aparticular issueTend to investigate an issue that wouldeither:a) Take up too much time in standingcommitteeb) Come under many differentcommitteesIran-Contra or 9/11 are notable examples
    44. 44. Committee ChairsAlways come from the MajorityPartyUsed to be done by Seniority RuleNow elected through secret ballots6 year term limits imposed byRepublicans in the 1990sSeniority Rule: Chairs of congressional standing committees willbe from the majority party and be the longest continuous serviceon that committee
    45. 45. Why is Party Discipline so weak?“Lack of Tasty Carrots and SizeableSticks”On Capitol Hill the Lobbyists andElectorate ruleCongressmen generally pay a lot ofattention to what the folks back home say,they are very concerned with gettingthemselves re-electedInterest Groups play a massive part in this
    46. 46. Legislative Synoptic LinksUK is an unbalanced bi-cameral systemParties are far more dominant (whipping)Members of the Executive are in the LegislatureLegislative process is slightly different
    47. 47. Exam success isnot a lottery!Know yourtermsKnow theArticlesKnow theExamples
    48. 48. Answer the question, the wholequestion and nothing but thequestion