Unit 4 – Legislative Branch – Congress What are the different parts and terms of Congress?
BASICS OF CONGRESS
- Coin Money, Declare War, Provide for army/navy, tax, borrow.
- Uses oversight function to check executive branch.
- In charge of naturalizing new citizens.
House of Representatives
- Appropriation bills must be introduced here.
- Population, number of members reapportioned every 10 yrs.
- Districts are large = only upper class could run for office.
- Elected by state legislatures
- Only 1/3 of Senate up for election at a time
- Advice and consent to the President.
Senator Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) Your Congressmen
- Speaker of House keeps order.
- John Boehner (R-OH) is elected by majority.
- Vice President is Pres. of Senate and casts tie breaking votes – Joe Biden
- President Pro Tempore takes over occasionally – sr. member of majority party. Senator Inouye
- Majority Leader holds real power – Harry Reid (D-NV)
- Parties elect leaders to plan topics they will push.
- “ Whips” = deputies that enforce partisanship
- People divide into party caucuses
- Party with the most people = majority & least = minority.
- Majority leader decides issues they will vote on and how to set up committees.
- Each house has a rule book.
- Bills are developed on behalf of constituents , lobbyists, party, or president.
- Bills are placed on a calendar for passage.
- Bills become laws and have to be passed by both houses.
- laws for the constitution.
- Led by a chairperson – senior member of majority party.
- They decide what bills to review, when to meet, and what hearings to hold.
- Each committee focuses on a specific topic like the military or science.
- Most bills “die” in committee.
How a Bill becomes a Law
- Congressman creates bill.
- Reviewed, then killed or moved.
- Floor Debate occurs – decided by Majority Leaders.
- House is limited to 1 hour per party.
- Senate may speak indefinitely (filibuster).
- Conference committee makes identical bill
- Law without signature – ignores bill while in session.
- Veto – Dies or goes back Congress
- Pocket Veto – ignore it out of session - dies.
HOW CONGRESS DEVELOPED
History of the Congress 1789-1850
- Meets first time in NYC in 1789.
- Hires clerks, sets up procedure.
- 1802 – Judiciary Act shapes courts.
- 1812 – Declaration of War passed against Britain.
- 1820 – Missouri Compromise – by Henry Clay
- The 36 – 30 line divides the nation between slave and free.
- Slaveholder John Calhoun, abolitionist Daniel Webster supports.
- 1824 – Speaker Henry Clay helps Congress choose John Q. Adams to be president over Jackson.
- Jackson becomes president next & fights Congress to be strongest branch.
- 1834 – Jackson is censured by Congress.
- 1836 – Gag rule is placed so no one can talk about slavery.
- Compromise of 1850 passed.
- Sick Henry Clay designs it, Daniel Webster speaks on his behalf.
- California becomes free state
- Popular sovereignty allowed in Utah and New Mexico.
- Texas paid for lost land.
- Slave trade abolished in DC.
- Fugitive Slave Act forces Northerners to help capture slaves.
Civil War and Reconstruction
- 1856 – Kansas-Nebraska Act (popular sovereignty) presented by Sen. Douglas (hopes to be prez).
- 1856 – Rep. Preston Brooks beats Sen. Charles Sumner with cane for insulting South.
- 1861-65 Lincoln gets his way
- Post war –Johnson is impeached by House, not removed by Senate.
- Radical Republicans run nation, reconstruct the South.
Twentieth Century Congress
- Isolationists led charge against League of Nations.
- New Deal Democrats took charge of Congress, support FDR.
- Un-American Activities Committees investigate Communists.
- Nixon gains fame in House, but McCarthy is eventually censured .
- Pork barrel spending skyrockets, especially w/ transportation bill in the 1950’s.
- House investigates Watergate scandal, leads to investigation of Nixon.
- Republicans take back Congress in 1994.
- Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Bob Dole (R-KS) declare a “Contract with America.”
- Equal to executive branch
- House impeaches over Monica Lewinsky affair perjury.
- Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) first woman Speaker.
- Current Speaker is John Boehner (R-OH).
BENEFITS AND PROBLEMS OF CONGRESS
- Can stall important legislation.
- Lobbyists use cash contributions to campaigns and trips, to “convince” Congressmen to vote their way.
- Congressmen use pork barrel projects or earmarks (spending money for votes).
- Projects are sometimes wasteful
- Unrestricted spending = large debt.
- Gerrymandering may occur.
- Incumbents (people in office) have resources, likely to win re-election.
- Two houses (one in DC, @ home)
- Lots of travel, little time for family or relaxation
- Can claim eminent domain .
- Some powers are actually expressed.
- Others are implied or inherent , which are debatable.
- Loose / strict constructionists have always argued about Constitution.
- Keep in touch with constituents .
- Broad powers are given by the Necessary and Proper Clause.