SectionHouse Leadership 2• Leaders of the House coordinate the work of 435 individual members by meeting six goals: – organizing and unifying party members, – scheduling work, – making certain that lawmakers are present for key floor votes, – distributing and collecting information,
SectionHouse Leadership (cont.) 2 – keeping the House in touch with the president, and – influencing lawmakers to support their party’s positions.• The Speaker of the House is the presiding officer and its most powerful leader.• A caucus, or closed meeting, of the majority party chooses the House Speaker at the start of each session of Congress.
SectionHouse Leadership (cont.) 2• The Speaker has several powers, including: – influencing proceedings by deciding which members to recognize first, – appointing the members of some committees, – scheduling bills for action and referring bills to the proper House committee, and – following the vice president in the line of succession to the presidency.
SectionHouse Leadership (cont.) 2• The majority leader,the Speaker’s top assistant, is responsible for: – helping plan the party’s legislative program, – steering important bills through the House, and – making sure the chairpersons of the many committees finish work on bills that are important to the party.
SectionHouse Leadership (cont.) 2• The majority leader is the floor leader of his or her political party in the House and is elected by the majority party.• Majority whips and deputy whips are assistant floor leaders in the House.• The majority whip’s job is to monitor how majority-party members vote onbills.• The minority party in the House elects its own leader and whip with responsibilities that parallel the duties of the majority party.
SectionThe Senate at Work (cont.) 3• The Senate majority leader steers the party’s bills through the Senate and makes sure that party members attend important sessions and gets support for key bills.• The Senate minority leader critiques the majority party’s bills and keeps his or her own party united.• The Senate brings bills to the floor by unanimous consent.
SectionThe Senate at Work 3• The Senate deliberates, or formally discusses, public policies.• The vice president presides over the Senate but cannot vote except to break a tie.• In the absence of the vice president, the president pro tempore—elected by the Senate from the majority party—presides.
SectionKinds of Committees 4• Congress has four kinds of committees: – Standing committeesare permanent groups that oversee bills that deal with certain kinds of issues. • Subcommitteesspecialize in a subcategory of its standing committee’s responsibilities. Standing Committees of Congress
SectionKinds of Committees (cont.) 4 – Select committees are temporary committees that study one specific issue and report their findings to the Senate or the House. – Joint committees are committees that are made up of members from both the House and the Senate. – Conference committeesare temporary committees that are set up when the House and Senate have passed different versions of a bill.
SectionLawmaking in the House 2• A proposed law is called a bill until both houses of Congress pass it and the president signs it.• The Speaker of the House sends bills to the appropriate committee for review.• Only 10 to 20 percent of bills ever get to the full House for a vote.• Bills that survive the committee process are put on one of the House calendars, which list bills that are up for consideration.
Section 2Lawmaking in the House (cont.)• After a committee has considered and approved a major bill, it usually goes to the House Rules Committee.• Major bills that reach the floor of the House do so by a special order from the Rules Committee.• The Rules Committee has the power to delay or block bills that representatives and House leaders do not want to come to a vote on the floor.
Section 2Lawmaking in the House (cont.)• A quorumis the minimum number of members needed for official legislative action.• For a regular session, a quorum requires a majority of 218 members.
SectionThe Senate at Work (cont.) 3• To filibustermeans to extend debate to prevent a bill from coming to a vote.• A vote for cloturelimits the debate by allowing each senator only one hour for speaking on a bill.• The majority party controls the flow of bills in the Senate.
SectionPurposes of Committees 4• The committee system serves three important purposes: – It allows members of Congress to divide their work among many smaller groups. – Committees select which of the bills introduced into Congress are to receive further consideration. – By holding public hearings and investigations, committees help the public learn about key problems facing the nation.
Section 4Choosing Committee Members• In the House and Senate the parties must assign members to the standing committees.• Each member can serve on only limited number of standing committees and subcommittees.• The chairpersons of the standing committees make key decisions about the work of committees and manage floor debates that take place on bills that come from their committees.
Section 4Choosing Committee Members (cont.)• The seniority system is the unwritten rule that implies that the majority party member with the longest uninterrupted service on a committee is the appointed leader of the committee.