We The People Chapter 9 CongressPresentation Transcript
House & Senate: Differences in Representation• Bicameral system: two chambers – Each state has two senators. – Each state has House representatives; number determined by state population• Predicated on different representation models – Senate: states, with longer terms – House: districts, with shorter terms
House & Senate: Differences in Representation• Senate: 100 senators – Since 1913, directly elected by voters statewide – Six-year terms – Two per state (fixed)• House of Representatives: 435 members – Elected by districts – Two-year terms – Population determines number per state (varies)
House & Senate: Differences in Representation• How representatives “represent”:– Sociological representation: shares demographic traits, experiences, and interests with constituents– Agency representation: representative has electoral incentive to act on constituent interests
Women, African Americans, and Latinos in Congress (1971–2010)SociologicalRepresentation
The Social Composition of the U.S. Congress
House & Senate: Differences in Representation• Representatives as agents: legislators learn about the interests of constituents.• Parties rarely ask a member of Congress to vote against constituent interests. – Electoral incentives are important to parties, too.
The Electoral Connection• Who gets elected? – Who runs (some encouraged more than others) – Incumbency advantage – Districting and gerrymandering issues
The Electoral Connection• Incumbency advantage – Members of Congress have an array of tools to keep them in office. • Constituency services • Name recognition and title • Ability to raise funds more easily – Combine to make incumbents strong candidates
The Power of Incumbency
The Electoral Connection• Districting and redistricting – Congressional districts are typically drawn in a manner that clearly benefits one party or the other. – The vast majority of incumbents represent “safe districts,” where most voters support one party. – Primaries are the critical election in safe districts because there is little party competition.
Results of Congressional Reapportionment
The Electoral Connection• Direct patronage – Pork barrel spending • Earmarks – Patronage • Some local and state elected officials have jobs to offer to constituents. – Constituent services – Private bills
The Electoral Connection
The Organization of Congress• The majority party controls leadership and shapes agenda. – The Speaker of the House is the leader of the majority party. – Both parties also elect a majority leader, a minority leader, and a whip. – Parties determine which of their members sit on various committees.
Majority Party Structure in the House of Representatives
Majority Party Structure in the Senate
The Organization of Congress• Committee system – Standing committees – Select committees – Joint committees – Conference committees
The Organization of Congress• Standing committees are permanent; where majority of legislation is written
The Organization of Congress
The Organization of Congress• Select committees – Formed temporarily to focus on a specific issue • Cannot present bills to the chamber • Bring attention to a specific subject• Joint committees – Formed from members of both chambers – Gather information – Cover issues internal to Congress
The Organization of Congress• Conference committees – For a bill to become a law, the same wording of the bill must be passed by both chambers. – Conference committees are formed to write the final wording when both chambers pass similar bills that need to be reconciled.
The Organization of Congress• The number of seats the minority party has on a committee is roughly proportionate to the seats it has in the House, but at an unfavorable rate.• Seniority determines committee assignments. – Chairs can be removed by the party caucus. – Chairs are term-limited.
The Organization of Congress• Congressional staffers – Specific topic or issue expertise – Constituent service • Over 11,500 staff in DC and district offices • Another 2,000 staff for committees
How a Bill Becomes a Law
How a Bill Becomes a Law• A bill is a proposed law that has been sponsored by a member of Congress and submitted to the Clerk of the House or Senate.• The bill is given a number and assigned to a committee, which typically refers it to a subcommittee.• Bills taken seriously are given a hearing.• The vast majority (95 percent) do not become laws.
How a Bill Becomes a Law• The House rule determines how much time is allocated for floor debate.• The debate time is divided equally between those for the bill and those against the bill.• The Senate allows for unlimited discussion, requiring 60 votes to end a filibuster via cloture.
How a Bill Becomes a Law• Once a bill clears in one chamber, it is sent to the other, where the process starts over.• If both chambers pass the same wording, the bill is sent to the president.• If not, both chambers create a conference committee.
How a Bill Becomes a Law• The president is given 10 days to veto a law. – Vetoes can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in each chamber. – Pocket veto: If there are less than 10 days left in the congressional calendar and the president does not sign the bill into law, it dies and must begin again from scratch in the next session.
How Congress Decides• Many factors influence members of Congress.• Constituents – Legislators take constituents seriously if they believe it will affect their support in the next election. – This includes voters as well as industries with a large presence in the district. – Electoral incentives make constituents a priority.
Interest Groups Influence Constituents and Congress
How Congress Decides• Interest groups – Can supply legislators with very detailed information and data about pending bills – Can make sizeable donations – Do they represent the interests of constituents?
How Congress DecidesParty discipline: Congress increasingly partisan since 1990s
How Congress Decides• Tools party leaders have at their disposal: – Leadership PACs – Committee assignments – Access to the floor – The whip system – Logrolling – Presidency
Beyond Legislation• Oversight – Congress is expected to oversee the activities of the executive branch in order to ensure funding is spent properly and laws are enforced.• Advice and consent – The Senate confirms executive appointments, ambassadors, and federal judges. – Approves all treaties
Beyond Legislation• Impeachment – If high officials are thought to have committed “Treason, Bribery or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” they can be impeached. – The House acts as a grand jury. – The Senate conducts the actual trial.
Public Opinion PollDo you approve or disapprove of the way Congress ishandling its job?a) Strongly approveb) Approvec) Disapproved) Strongly disapprove
Public Opinion PollDo you approve or disapprove of the way your memberof Congress is handling his or her job?a) Strongly approveb) Approvec) Disapproved) Strongly disapprove
Public Opinion PollDo you believe we should have term limits formembers of Congress?a) Yesb) No
Public Opinion PollDo you believe state legislatures should be responsiblefor drawing congressional districts?a) Yesb) No
Public Opinion PollDo you think it is important that members of Congressreflect national economic demographics?a) Yesb) No
Public Opinion PollDo you think it is important that members of Congressreflect national racial and ethnic demographics?a) Yesb) No
Public Opinion PollWhen members of Congress cast a vote, which of thefollowing factors should most influence their decision?a) The interests of the country as a wholeb) The interests of their district or state
Public Opinion PollWhen members of Congress cast a vote, which of thefollowing factors should most influence their decision?a) Constituent preferencesb) The president’s preferencesc) The members’ party leadership preferencesd) The members’ own ideology