Committees congress

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Committees congress

  1. 1. Committees in CongressCommittees in Congress
  2. 2. TypesTypes Standing committeesStanding committees Select committeesSelect committees Conference committeesConference committees Party committeesParty committees Joint committeesJoint committees Last two types tend to be organisational andLast two types tend to be organisational andproceduralprocedural
  3. 3. Standing Committees in USStanding Committees in US&UK&UK Ad hocAd hoc Built in govt majorityBuilt in govt majority WhippedWhipped Collective identity lessCollective identity lesslikely to developlikely to develop Use of guillotineUse of guillotine Hindered by lack of powerHindered by lack of powerto obtain evidence fromto obtain evidence fromoutside interestsoutside interests Permanent, policy specialistPermanent, policy specialist–armed services, judiciary–armed services, judiciary 34 committees -18 in House34 committees -18 in Houseand 16 in Senateand 16 in Senate Principal role to not onlyPrincipal role to not onlyconsider & amendconsider & amendlegislation but also involvedlegislation but also involvedin scrutiny of govt agenciesin scrutiny of govt agencies Expertise-call witnessesExpertise-call witnessesfrom a variety of sourcesfrom a variety of sources Not passive bodies waitingNot passive bodies waitingfor policy proposals-mayfor policy proposals-maydraft bills themselvesdraft bills themselves
  4. 4. RoleRole Permanent and policy specialist- will wish toPermanent and policy specialist- will wish tojoin committees that have a connection withjoin committees that have a connection withtheir constituents interests eg. Agriculture -their constituents interests eg. Agriculture -Mid West and SouthMid West and South Strategic role in legislation – comes beforeStrategic role in legislation – comes beforesecond reading and able to shape the bill at thesecond reading and able to shape the bill at thestart of the legislative process; power ofstart of the legislative process; power ofamendment and power to kill a bill byamendment and power to kill a bill bypigeonholing it.pigeonholing it.
  5. 5. RoleRole Power to obstruct legislation is not quitePower to obstruct legislation is not quitetotal.total. Discharge rule only implemented when anDischarge rule only implemented when anabsolute majority are in favour (218). egabsolute majority are in favour (218). egcampaign finance reform billcampaign finance reform bill Scrutiny role – members of the executiveScrutiny role – members of the executivebranch can be called to account eg 2005branch can be called to account eg 2005members of Bush’s Cabinet made 67members of Bush’s Cabinet made 67appearances – Secretary of the Treasuryappearances – Secretary of the Treasuryappeared this year before Senateappeared this year before Senate
  6. 6. RoleRole Confirm appointments – The ConstitutionConfirm appointments – The Constitutiongives Senate exclusive power to advise andgives Senate exclusive power to advise andconsent to numerous appointments made byconsent to numerous appointments made bythe Presidentthe President Senate Judiciary Committee – recentSenate Judiciary Committee – recentrecommendations – Roberts, Alito andrecommendations – Roberts, Alito andconfirmed by Senate showing power of suchconfirmed by Senate showing power of suchcommittees in shaping decisions on the floorcommittees in shaping decisions on the floorof the House.of the House.
  7. 7. House Rules CommitteeHouse Rules Committee Most influential committee –timetablingMost influential committee –timetablingcommittee determining the fate of proposedcommittee determining the fate of proposedlegislationlegislation Sets time limits for floor debate and decidesSets time limits for floor debate and decideswhich amendments can be offered and if sowhich amendments can be offered and if sowhich ones.which ones. Closed rule – no amendments allowed to theClosed rule – no amendments allowed to thebill. House leadership see these as way ofbill. House leadership see these as way ofkeeping tight control on its legislative agenda.keeping tight control on its legislative agenda.
  8. 8. House Rules CommitteeHouse Rules Committee Open rule allows amendments – tend to beOpen rule allows amendments – tend to bemore common in times of divided governmentmore common in times of divided government– president’s party tries to make bipartisan– president’s party tries to make bipartisandeals.deals. Closed rules common when one party controlsClosed rules common when one party controlsboth branches - tries to steamroll legislationboth branches - tries to steamroll legislationthroughthrough Gatekeeper of all major legislation .Gatekeeper of all major legislation .
  9. 9. Select Committees – US & UKSelect Committees – US & UK InvestigatorInvestigator Not whipped?Not whipped? Bi partisanBi partisan PermanentPermanent Except for PAC purelyExcept for PAC purelybackbenchersbackbenchers Acquire expertiseAcquire expertise Have ‘authority’Have ‘authority’ Media attention?Media attention? Investigative & specialInvestigative & special Autonomous &Autonomous &independentindependent Ad hocAd hoc Influential members ofInfluential members ofCongressCongress Power to subpoenaPower to subpoenaevidence & witnessesevidence & witnesses Media attentionMedia attention
  10. 10. Select committeesSelect committees Most are ad hoc – set up when a matterMost are ad hoc – set up when a matterrequiring congressional investigation eitherrequiring congressional investigation eithercuts across the policy areas of more than onecuts across the policy areas of more than onestanding committee or the investigation isstanding committee or the investigation islikely to take too long for a standinglikely to take too long for a standingcommitteecommittee
  11. 11. Examples of Select CommitteesExamples of Select Committees September 2005 - House of RepresentativesSeptember 2005 - House of Representativesapproved a SC to investigate the preparationapproved a SC to investigate the preparationfor and response to Hurricane Katrina byfor and response to Hurricane Katrina byfederal, state and local authorities. Identifiedfederal, state and local authorities. Identifiedfailures at all levels.failures at all levels. Other prominent examples include – SenateOther prominent examples include – SenateSelect committee on Watergate 1973; Iran –Select committee on Watergate 1973; Iran –Contra affair – conducted by a special 26Contra affair – conducted by a special 26member committee including members of bothmember committee including members of bothhouses -1987; 1995 Waco tragedy.houses -1987; 1995 Waco tragedy.

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