Legislation problems in congress

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Legislation problems in congress

  1. 1. Legislation Difficulties
  2. 2.  It is hard to pass legislation through Congress eg 2005/06 -3% of bills became law Institutional and structural reasons – Bennett ‘it’s not so much that the system doesn’t work, but rather the system is designed not to work’ Constitutional system of checks and balances- ‘separated institutions sharing powers’ -NeustadtIntroduction
  3. 3.  The hurdles to enacting legislation are substantial Smith – ‘...most remarkable feature of the legislative process is how much is stacked against the enactment of new law’ Standing committees have life and death power over bills as well as power of amendmentThe process
  4. 4.  Any bill must find a majority in both houses Any bill must find a majority of three fifths in the Senate – filibuster- Obama health care Any bill must if it is opposed by the President find a majority of two thirds in both houses - Clinton vetoed the Late Term Abortion Ban Bill Legislation can be frustrated by a small minoritySupermajorities
  5. 5.  Both houses have equal power in relation to legislation –balanced bicameralism Bills must be approved by the standing committees of both chambers; majorities needed at second and third readings Conference committeeEqual power
  6. 6.  More difficult when different parties control the Senate and House eg 1981- 87- a Republican controlled Senate and a Democrat controlled House Different agenda and committees will be chaired by followers of different ideologiesParty control
  7. 7.  Difficult for President to be successful with his legislative agenda – Nixon, Ford (whole terms),Clinton’s second term and G.W. Bush last 2 years Clinton late 1990s supported a minimum wage but Republican Congress wanted cuts in federal programmes Presidential vetoes more common during times of divided govtDivided government
  8. 8.  Even when the President has a majority in both houses no guarantee of success Clinton – failed to get his healthcare reform through – scuppered by members of his own party ;1990 Bush tax increases passed only with Democrats support Most votes bipartisan -No Child Left Behind-support of Democrats such as Ted KennedyWeak party discipline
  9. 9.  1950s/60s – possible to get legislation through by securing the support of ‘Kings of the Hill’ –Speaker, majority leader, committee chairs 1970s onwards –subcommittee chairmen and ordinary members of Congress Mavericks - LiebermanDecentralisation of power

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