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The legislative branch


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  • 1. Unit 3: The Legislative Branch
  • 2. National Legislature
    • How does the Constitution provide power for a bicameral Congress?
    • How long is a term of Congress?
    • How have Congressional sessions changed over time?
    • What is the size and elective terms of members of the House?
    • How are seats reapportioned among the States after each census?
    • What is a typical congressional election and district?
    • What are the qualifications for a member of the house?
    • What is the size of the Senate?
    • How do States elect senators?
    • Why is a senator’s term different from a representatives?
    • What are the qualifications to be a U.S. senator?
    • What are the personal and political backgrounds of current members?
    • What are the duties of a member?
    • What privileges do members receive?
  • 3. Bicameral Congress
    • Historical- British Parliament had consisted of two houses since 1300s. Americans knew this system well and adopted it.
    • Practical- Framers created two chambered body to settle conflict between VA and NJ Plans.
    • Theoretical- One house might act as a check on the other.
  • 4. Terms
    • Term - 2 or 6 year term.
    • 20th Amendment as “noon of the 3d day of January” of every odd-numbered year.
    • Session - regular period of time during which Congress conducts business.
  • 5. Sessions of Congress
    • Congress meets yearly. It adjourns until each regular session, unless an emergency happens. Session usually lasts most of the year.
    • Pres. has power to prorogue a session, or suspend it.
    • Special Sessions- meet to deal with emergencies. Only 26 have ever been held. Can only be called by the President.
  • 6. The House
    • Has 435 Members
    • Seats are apportioned, or distributed according to population.
    • Rep. are chosen each two years.
    • D.C., Guam, Virgin Islands, and Samoa all have Reps.
  • 7. Qualifications for Members
    • Must be at least 25 years of age.
    • Must have been a citizen of the U.S. for at least seven years.
    • Must be an inhabitant of the State from which he or she is elected.
  • 8. Reapportionment
    • Seats are redistributed after every ten year census.
    • Reapportionment act of 1929 set the final number at 435 members.
    • Although there have been recent movements to limit terms, there are no limits set on the number of terms a representative may serve.
  • 9. Current Appointment
  • 10. Congressional Elections
    • Held on the first Tuesday in November of each even numbered year.
    • When elections are held between presidential elections, they are known as off-year, or mid-term elections.
    • The trend is that the party in power loses seats during mid-term elections.
  • 11. Districts
    • 35 separate Congressional districts.
    • Alabama has 7districts
    • Single member districts have voters select one Rep.
  • 12. Gerrymandering
    • Redrawing of district lines to give the advantage to one political party or the other.
    • Two Forms
      • Concentration of opposition voters
      • Spread opposition as thinly as possible.
  • 13. The U.S. Senate
  • 14. Senate
    • 100 Members
    • 2 from each state
    • More responsible for legislature than reps.
    • Represent entire State as opposed to district.
    • Alabama’s senators are Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby.
  • 15. Qualifications
    • Must be at least 30
    • Must have been citizen for at least 9 yrs.
    • Must be inhabitant of the State from which you are elected.
  • 16. Election and Terms
    • Senators were originally selected by state legislatures.
    • 17 th Amendment changed it so the public could vote them in office.
    • Elections are held every two years for senators, although their terms last six years.
    • Only a third of them expire every two years.
    • Term was designed to keep senators from become subject to public opinion and pressure.
  • 17. The Job
    • Play 5 major roles
      • Legislators
      • Representatives of their constituents
      • Committee members
      • Public servants
      • Politicians
  • 18. Representatives of the People Trustees Believe that each question they face must be decided on merit. Delegates Serve as agents of the people who elected them. Partisans Lawmakers who show 1 st allegiance to the party. Politicos Combine elements of the other roles.
  • 19. Salary
    • Today, senators and reps. are paid $174,000
    • Speaker of the House makes $223,000
    • Party leaders make $193,400.
    • Receive generous retirement packages. Longtime members can retire making $150k/yr. in benefits.
    • Members have franking privileges where they don’t have to pay for postage.
    • Free printing costs.
    • Receive special tax incentives and heath care.
    • Congress sets own salary.
  • 20. Privileges
    • the Speech and Debate Clause (Article I, Section 6, Clause 1) protects representatives & senators from suits for libel or slander arising from their official conduct.
    • Members are immune from arrest for noncriminal offenses / engaged in congressional business.
  • 21. Congressional Power
    • What are the three types of Congressional Power?
    • What is strict construction of U.S. Constitution?
    • What key points relate to Cong. power to tax?
    • How does Cong. use its power to borrow?
    • What is the importance of Cong. commerce power?
    • What are the reasons that the Framers gave Cong power to issue currency?
    • What is bankruptcy?
    • What are the key sources of Congress’s foreign relations powers?
    • What arrangement has been made between Cong and the President on issues of war and national defense?
    • What are some other key powers exercised by Cong?
    • What is the Necessary and Proper Clause?
    • What key developments took place in the battle for implied powers of Congress?
  • 22. “ Enumerated Powers”
  • 23. Implied Powers
  • 24.  
  • 25. Strict versus Liberal Construction
    • Strict construction were led by Jefferson. Argued an Anti-Federalist position.
    • Insisted that Cong. have
      • expressed powers
      • implied powers only necessary to carry out expressed powers.
    • Liberal construction was led by Hamilton.
    • Favored liberal interpretation of Const.
    • This allows for Cong. powers and nat’l govt. to grow and expand.
  • 26. Power to Tax
    • The Power
    • The Constitution give Congress the power:
    • “ To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States.…”
      • — Article I, Section 8, Clause 1
    • Limitations
    • may only tax for public purposes.
    • May not tax exports.
    • Direct taxes must be apportioned among the states.
    • Taxes must be fair and equal around the country.
  • 27. Commerce Power and Limits
    • Cong has power to regulate interstate and foreign trade.
    • Gibbons v. Ogden- clash over regulation of steamboats in N.Y.
    • There are 4 major limits to the Commerce Power.
      • Cannot tax exports
      • Cannot favor the ports of one State over any other in regulation of trade
      • Cannot require that “Vessels be bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear or pay duties in another.
      • Could not interfere with the slave trade, at least not until 1808
  • 28. Foreign Relations and War
    • Cong shares this power with the President.
    • 2 sources on Foreign Relations
      • Various expressed powers (commerce, War)
      • U.S. is sovereign state
    • Only Cong has power to declare war.
    • Has power to raise and support military forces and make rules on governing of land.
    • War Powers Resolution of 1973 allows Cong to restrict use of combat forces in an area where war is not present.
  • 29. Other Expressed Powers
    • Naturalization
      • Naturalization is the process by which citizens of one country become citizens of another.
    • The Postal Power
      • Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 says that Congress has the power “[t]o establish Post Offices and post Roads.”
    • Copyrights & Patents
      • A copyright is the exclusive right of an author to reproduce, publish, and sell his or her creative work.
      • A patent grants a person the sole right to manufacture, use, or sell “any new and useful art, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter.”
  • 30.
    • Weights and Measures
      • Congress has the power to “fix the Standard of Weights and Measures” throughout the United States.
    • Judicial Powers
      • create all of the federal courts below the Supreme Court & structure the federal judiciary.
      • define federal crimes & set punishment for violators of federal law.
    • Power Over Territories and Other Areas
      • Congress has the power to acquire, manage, & dispose of various federal areas.
      • One way of acquiring property is through eminent domain, the inherent power to take private property for public use.
  • 31. Impeachment
    • the power of removing the Pres., V.P., or other civil officers from their office through impeachment.
    • House has the sole power to impeach , or bring charges against the individual.
    • There is then a trial in the Senate. 2/3 vote of the senators present is needed for conviction.
    • penalty for conviction is removal from office.
    • Only two presidents have been impeached (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton)
  • 32. Executive Powers
    • Treaties
    • President makes treaties “by & with the Advice & Consent of the Senate,... provided 2/3 of the Senators present concur.”
    • Presently, the President often consults members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
    • Appointments
    • All major appointments made by the President must be confirmed by the Senate by majority vote.
    • Only 12 of 600 Cabinet appointments to date have been declined.
    • “ Senatorial courtesy” is the practice in which the Senate will turn down an appointment if it is opposed by a senator of the President’s party from the State involved.
  • 33. Congress In Action!
    • How and when does Congress convene?
    • What roles do the presiding officers in the Senate and House possess?
    • What are the duties of party officers?
    • How are committee chairmen chosen and what are their roles in the legislative process?
    • How do standing committees function?
    • What are the duties and responsibilities of the House Rules Committee?
    • What are the functions of the joint and conference committees?
    • What are the first steps in the introduction of a bill to the House?
    • What happens to a bill once it is referred to a committee?
    • How do House leaders schedule a debate on a bill?
    • What happens to a bill on the House floor?
    • What is the final step in the passage of a bill in the House?
    • How is a bill introduced in the Senate?
    • What are the Senate’s rules for debate on a bill?
    • What is the role of conference committees in the legislative process?
    • What actions can the President take after both houses have passed a bill?
  • 34. Congress Convenes
    • Convenes every two years on the 3 rd of Jan. on odd numbered years.
    • The House has formal organizational meetings at the beginning of each term. The Senate, because it is a continuous body, has fewer organizational issues to address at the start of each term.
    • When Congress is organized, the President presents a State of the Union message to a joint session of Congress. This message, in which the President reports on the state of the nation as he sees it, is given annually.
  • 35. Presiding Officers
    • Speaker of House
    • The Speaker of the House is the presiding officer of the House of Representatives and the acknowledged leader of the majority party.
    • The Speaker’s main duties revolve around presiding over and keeping order in the House.
    • The Speaker names the members of all select and conference committees, and signs all bills and resolutions passed by the House.
    • President of the Senate
    • The job of president of the Senate is assigned by the Constitution to the Vice President.
    • The president of the Senate has many of the same duties as the Speaker of the House, but cannot cast votes on legislation.
    • The president pro tempore , the leader of the majority party, is elected from the Senate and serves in the Vice President’s absence.
  • 36. Party Officers
    • Party Caucus
    • Closed meeting of the members of each party of the house.
    • Deals mostly with matters of party organization.
    • Floor Leaders
    • Most important officers in Congress
    • Legislative strategists.
    • Picked by peers.
    • Whips
    • Assist floor leaders
    • Liaison between leadership and rank and file members.
  • 37. Committee Chairmen and Seniority Rule
    • Committee Chairmen
    • The committee chairmen are the members who head the standing committees in each chamber of Congress.
    • The chairman of each of these permanent committees is chosen from the majority party by the majority party caucus.
    • Seniority Rule
    • The seniority rule , an unwritten custom, holds that the most important posts will be held by those party members with the longest records of service in Congress.
    • The head of each committee is often the longest-serving member of the committee from the majority party.
  • 38. Composition of Congress
  • 39. Permanent Committees of Congress
  • 40. Committees
    • Standing committees are permanent panels in Congress to which bills of similar nature could be sent. The majority party always holds a majority of the seats on each committee.
    • House Rules Committee decides whether and under what conditions the full House will consider a measure. Act as traffic cops of the floor. They control the pace of legislation.
    • Select committees are panels established to handle a specific matter and usually exist for a limited time. Most are formed for investigative purposes.
    • A joint committee is one composed of members of both houses.
    • A conference committee —a temporary, joint body—is created to iron out differences between bills passed by the House and Senate before they are sent to the President.
  • 41. Cm 12.4
  • 42.  
  • 43. The First Steps
    • A bill is a proposed law presented to the House or Senate for consideration. Most bills are born in the executive branch.
    • Two types of bills
      • Public bills are measures applying to the nation as a whole. (tax issue or health care)
      • Private bills apply to certain persons or places
        • (funding state parks or allocating money to organization)
        • Sometimes a rider dealing with an unrelated matter is included.
  • 44. The Bill in Committee
    • Discharge Petitions
    • Most bills die in committee, pigeonholed, or put away, never to be acted upon.
    • If a committee pigeonholes a bill that a majority of the House wishes to consider, it can be brought out of committee via a discharge petition .
    • Gathering Information
    • committees do their work through several subcommittees — divisions of existing committees formed to address specific issues.
    • Committees and subcommittees often hold public hearings or make a junket (trip) to gather information relating to a measure.
  • 45. Committees in Action
    • Report the bill favorably (do pass)
    • Refuse to report the bill (pigeonhole it)
    • Report the bill in amended form
    • Report with unfavorable recommendation
    • Report a committee bill (entirely new bill that committee has substituted for the original)
  • 46. The Bill on the Floor
    • The Committee of the Whole includes all members of the House, however, they sit as one large committee and not as the House itself.
    • Debate
    • Severe limits are placed on floor debate due to the House’s large size.
    • Majority /minority floor leaders generally decide in advance how they will split the time to be spent on a bill.
    • Floor debate is unrestrained in the Senate.
    • Senators may speak on a bill as long as they wish.
    • This freedom is intended to encourage the fullest possible discussion on a piece of legislature.
  • 47. The Vote
    • Four Methods for voting on legislation
    • Voice votes (ayes, nos)
    • Standing vote happens when member thinks the Speaker has erred in judging voice vote.
    • 1/5 of a quorum can demand a teller vote or an electronic vote.
    • Roll call vote is also known as a record vote.
    Once a bill has been approved at the second reading, it is engrossed and printed in its final form. Then it is read a third time. If it is approved, the Speaker signs it.
  • 48. Filibusters and Clotures
    • Filibuster
    • A filibuster is an attempt to “talk a bill to death.”
    • A senator may exercise his or her right of holding the floor as long as necessary, and in essence talk until a measure is dropped.
    • The Cloture Rule
    • Rule XXII in the Standing Rules of the Senate deals with cloture , or limiting debate
    • If at least 60 senators vote for cloture, no more than another 30 hours may be spent on debate, forcing a vote on a bill.
  • 49. Conference Committees and Presidential Action
    • Any measure enacted by Congress must have been passed by both houses in identical form.
    • If one of the houses will not accept the other’s version of a bill, a conference committee is formed to iron out the differences.
    • Once a conference committee completes work on a bill, it is returned to both houses for final approval. It must be accepted or rejected without amendment.
    • The President has the final act on passed legislature
      • Sign the bill into law
      • Veto, or refuse to sign it, sending it back to the house in which it originated. (Can be overturned by 2/3 vote)
      • May allow it to become law without signing it by not acting on it within 10 days of Cong. approval.
      • Pocket Veto. If Cong. adjourns it session within 10 days of submitting a bill and the President does not act, the bill dies.