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Legislative Branch


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  • 1. Legislative Branch Chapter 5-7
  • 2. Congress
    • A bicameral body
    • Meets in the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C
    • May goal is to introduce legislation
  • 3. Congress
    • Each term lasts two years
    • The first term began March 4, 1789
    • Each session convenes on January 3 rd following the November election
  • 4. Congress
    • The President is the only one who can call special sessions
    • The last one was called by President Truman
  • 5. House of Representatives
    • 435 members
      • Set in 1929
    • Each state must have at least one member
    • Membership is based on population
      • Is controlled by the census which is taken every ten years according to the 9 th amendment
  • 6. House of Representatives
    • 1959/1960- went to 436 and 437 members because of Alaska and Hawaii.
    • In 1961, it went back to 435 members
  • 7. House of Representatives
    • States with only one representative
      • Delaware
      • Montana
      • North Dakota
      • South Dakota
      • Vermont
      • Wyoming
      • Alaska
  • 8. Gerrymandering
    • Introduced by Elbridge Gerry
    • The party in power draws up the districts and it usually works in the favor of the party in power
    • This is also done at the local and state levels
  • 9. Qualifications for Representative
    • Must be at least 25 years old
    • U.S. citizen for at least seven years
    • Live in the stated elected from
    • They serve a 2 year term
    • Salary: $161,000 (probably more now)
  • 10. Senate
    • 100 members (2 from each state)
    • Elected to a six year term
    • Qualifications
      • Must be 30 years old
      • Be a U.S. citizen for 9 years
      • Live in the state elected
  • 11. Congress in Action
    • Opening Day
      • Begins at noon on January 3 rd ; there are no sworn members
      • Clerk of preceding house presides and calls roll
        • The clerk is a non-member
  • 12. Congress in Action
    • Members answer roll call and choose the speaker of the house
      • Must be from the majority party
    • The speaker is sworn in by the “Dean of the House” (the one who has been there the longest)
    • The speaker then swears in the other members
  • 13. Congress in Action
    • Open Day (cont.)
      • Republicans sit on the right
      • Democrats sit on the right
      • Independents may sit on either side
      • Members than adopt the house rules
        • They usually remain the same
      • Standing committees are then appointed
  • 14. Congress in Action
    • Opening Day in the Senate
      • Only 1/3 of the senate is new , so it takes less time to swear people in
      • Standing committees are then appointed
  • 15. State of the Union Address
    • When congress notifies the President they are organized the President responds with what he hopes to accomplish while in office
    • Members of Congress with the exception of one member from each house will not attend, along with a cabinet member so that if there is a catastrophe, government may go on.
  • 16. State of the Union Address
    • The President appears in person
    • There are many dignitaries invited by the president
    • The address includes issues on the economy, domestic issues, and foreign affairs
  • 17. Officers of House and Senate
    • Speaker of the House
      • Usually has been in the house for a long period of time and highly respected
      • Nancy Pelosi (D)-CA currently holds the office
      • Sam Rayburn held the position for 17 years, 2 months, and 2 days
      • Last Republican to hold the position was Dennis Hastert (R)-IL
  • 18. Speaker of the House
    • Duties of Speaker of the House
      • Maintain order in the House of Reps.
      • No person may speak unless recognized by the speaker
  • 19. Officers of the House and Senate
    • Majority Leader- Steny Hoyer (D)
    • Minority Leader- John Boehner (R)
    • Majority Whip- James Clayburn (D)
    • Minority Whip- Roy Blunt (R)
  • 20. Officers of the House and Senate
    • President of the Senate- Dick Cheney
      • May only vote to break ties
    • President Pro-Tempore- Robert Byrd
      • He replaced Ted Stevens, who replaced 100 year old Strom Thurmond (retired in 2003
    • Majority Leader Harry Reid
      • Previous to Reid, was Bill Frist, who replaced Trent Lott because of a racist statement given at a birthday party
  • 21. Committees
    • Majority party controls all committees
    • Standing Committee
      • Permanent committees
      • 19 in the House has 10-62 members
      • 17 in the Senate has 9-28 members
    • Special Committee
      • Usually put into effect for investigations like Watergate, Un-American activities, Whitewater
  • 22. Committees
    • Joint Committee
      • Members from both houses serve on committee
      • Many believe this is the best kind of committee
    • Conference Committee
      • Used to push bills through respective houses
  • 23. Punishment in Congress
    • People from Congress who have been punished
      • 15 have been expelled from the Senate
        • 14 after the Civil War
      • The last person was David Durenberger who was denounced and not re-elected
  • 24. Punishment in Congress
    • House personnel punished
      • Reprimanded Adam Clayton Powell, Jim Wright, Barney Frank, and Newt Gingrich
      • Michael Myers from Pennsylvania was expelled from the House in 1980
      • James Trafficant recently was convicted of fraud and tampering, but was not re-elected
  • 25. Seniority Rule
    • Senior members get the best committees to serve on as well as a preference on seating and offices
  • 26. Bills becoming Laws
    • Over 20,000 introduced each session
    • Only 10% become law
    • Anyone may write a bill, but only a congressperson may introduce one to the floor
    • Process for introducing a bill is by dropping it in the “hopper”
      • A box at the end of the clerk’s desk
  • 27. Types of Bills
    • Public Bills
      • General applications like taxes, patents, etc
    • Private Bills
      • Apply to certain places or persons (MLK day)
    • Resolution
      • Either house for specific item (new money)
  • 28. Types of Bills
    • Joint Resolution
      • Temporary measures
    • Concurrent Resolution
      • Usually deals with foreign policy
      • Present directive to allow President Bush to attack Iraq
  • 29. Committee Status on Bills
    • Groups of Congress people go through the bills to decide which are important
      • They may “pigeon-hole”- kill the bill
      • Committee may take a junket (fact-finding trip) used to be used for vacations
      • Committee may discharge (blast bill out of committee)
  • 30. Rules and Calendars
    • Calendar- is a schedule of when a bill will appear on the floor for consideration
    • All bill pending action are read by the committee and then read a second time if they reach the floor
    • Debating a bill is limited to one hour in the House
  • 31. Voting on a Bill
    • Most common way (Yea or Nay) called a voice vote
    • Teller vote where each person walks between two people giving their vote to leader
  • 32. Voting on a Bill
    • Roll call all people in Congress are polled one by one
    • When a bill has been approved it is then engrossed and sent to the printers in final form
  • 33. Bill in the Senate
    • Basically, the same as in the House
    • Filibuster- talking a bill to death by trying to delay a vote
    • Strom Thurmond holds the current record for filibustering 24 hours +
    • The Senate may invoke the cloture rule which limits debate before it starts
  • 34. Final Stage of the Bill
    • Voted on, engrossed, and finally approved
    • Bill then goes to the opposite house for their approval
    • Bill may be derailed in either house
    • Bill then goes to the President
  • 35. Final Stage of Bill
    • President’s options
      • Sign
      • Veto
      • Pocket veto- when the Congress goes out of session and bill dies
      • Leave it lie on the President’s desk and after 10 days it becomes law