Congress: Organization and Powers (6.1,2,3)


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Overview of the organization, powers, and work of Congress (updated 09/15)

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Congress: Organization and Powers (6.1,2,3)

  1. 1. How Congress Is Organized For use with section 6.1&3
  2. 2. I. BICAMERAL LEGISLATURE  “bicameral” = two houses, Congress is made up of 2 parts (the Senate and the House of Representatives – HOR)  “legislature” = law-making part of government  In the US Constitution, we call our legislature “Congress”  Congress is the most powerful branch of government  each meeting of Congress is a “term” and lasts two years  each year of the term is called a “session” 2
  3. 3.  Age:  25  Residence:  state you plan to represent  Citizenship:  current US Citizen for at least 7 years  Age:  30  Residence:  state you plan to represent  Citizenship:  current US Citizen for at least 9 years QUALIFICATIONS 2. Senator1. Representative 3
  4. 4. A. House of Representatives (HOR)  “the lower house”  represents the people 1. Representation  total number of representatives: 435  # of reps from each state: based on the state population  North Carolina has 13 representatives to the HOR  term of office = 2 years (every 2 years there is a whole-sale reelection of ALL 435 seats)  Congressional Apportionment Map 4
  5. 5. A. House of Representatives (HOR) 1. Representation a) census  the population of each state is determined every 10 years by a census (official count of the people)  every 10 years, Congress adjusts the number of representative given to each state based on the number of people moving in or out  Census Homepage  2010 Census Form  Census History Maps 5
  6. 6. A. House of Representatives (HOR) 1. Representation b) districts  each state is broken up into districts, areas of roughly the same number of constituents  each district is representative by one person  on election day, people in different districts will have different ballots because the will vote on different Representatives  sometimes political parties or try to adjust the shape of a district to give their party an advantage, this is called gerrymandering  NC Congressional Districts  The Redistricting Game 6
  7. 7. A. House of Representatives (HOR) 7
  8. 8. A. House of Representatives (HOR) 2. Speaker of the House  leading member of the HOR  runs the meetings of the HOR  is a member of the majority party  directs which bills will be discussed (and not discussed)  is 3rd in line of presidential succession (that is if the Pres andVP should die, the Speaker of the House becomes president)  the Speaker of the House today is John Boehner 8
  9. 9. B.The Senate  the “upper house”  represents the states 1. Representation  total number of Senators = 100  # of Senators is two per state  North Carolina has …  term of office: 6 years (with rotating elections)  1/3 of the Senators’ are up for reelection every 2 years 9
  10. 10. B.The Senate 2. Vice President and President ProTempore a) Vice President  the only Constitutional duty of theVice President is to preside over the meetings of the Senate  theVP runs the meeting and decides who can speak  helps direct which bills get discussed (or not discussed)  does NOT get to vote unless there is a tie  The President of the Senate today is Joe Biden 10
  11. 11. B.The Senate 2. Vice President and President ProTempore b) President proTempore of the Senate  runs the Senate when theVP is doing work for the President of the US  is a member of the majority party  helps direct which bill get discussed (or not discussed)  DOES vote  The President proTempore of the Senate today is Orrin Hatch 11
  12. 12. C. Other Congressional Leaders 1. Floor Leader • work hard to convince the member of their party to pass the bills the party desires • speak for their party on the issues • note: the “majority leader” is from the majority party in that house 12
  13. 13. C. Other Congressional Leaders 1. PartyWhip • assists the Floor leader • keeps track of which members of their party vote for and against the bills the party desires 13
  14. 14. II. COMMITTEE WORK  once introduced, all bills are referred to a committee that handles the topic of that bill  it is up to the committee to read over, revise, rewrite, or reject the bills they receive  committees sometimes investigate legal actions dealing with their topic (this is called oversight) 14
  15. 15. A.Types of Committees 1. Standing Committees • these are committees that continually exist because there is always some issue or bill for the members to deal with • see chart on page 181 15
  16. 16. A.Types of Committees 2. Select Committees • when a bill or issue arises that is not covered by a standing committee, a special committee, called a select committee, is created temporarily 16
  17. 17. A.Types of Committees 3. Joint Committees • there are a few committees that are made up of members from both the Senate and the HOR • these committees usually have investigative duties to find out information about important topic of national concern to help guide policy and law-making 17
  18. 18. A.Types of Committees 4. Conference Committees • consisting of members from both houses, these committees try to work out differences between House and Senate versions of bills • we will discuss this more in Chapter 6.4 – “How a Bill Becomes a Law” 18
  19. 19. B. Committee Assignments  Senators and representatives try to get assigned to committees that will have the greatest impact on the people that voted for them  for example, the military is important in North Carolina (many bases and military families) therefore members of Congress from NC try to get assigned to the Armed Services Committee in both the Senate and HOR  the head of each committee is a member of the majority party 19
  20. 20. B. Committee Assignments 1. Seniority System • those who have been in the Senate of House the longest get the first pick of the committee they choose, while new members get the last picks • members of Congress try to get onto committees that will have a great impact on the people of their state 20 Members with the most seniority: Senate House of Representatives Patrick Leahy (D) 1975 - John Conyers (D) 1965 - Orrin Hatch (R) 1977 - Charles Rangel (D) 1971 - Thad Cochrane (R) 1978 - DonYoung (R) 1973 -
  21. 21. PRIVILEGES 1. Salary  $174,000 / year 2. Other Privileges  professional immunity in certain situations to exercise speech and expression in order to make clear their point without outside interference (rule of law still applies)  free parking, trips to their home states  franking privilege  low-cost life insurance, health insurance for life  gym, special restaurants, medical clinic 21
  22. 22. PRIVILEGES Helpers 1. Personal Staff  gather information on bills and issues  handle requests from voters  deal with news reporters and lobbyists 2. Committee Staff  handle the day-to-day lawmaking duties of Congress, such as…  draft bills  gather information  organized committee hearings  negotiate with lobbyists 22
  23. 23. PRIVILEGES Helpers 3. Support Services a) Library of Congress (LOC)  holds copies of EVERY book published in the United States  is a valuable source of information for lawmakers when drafting bills and learning about issues 23
  24. 24. PRIVILEGES Helpers 4. Finance & Budget a) GeneralAccounting Office (GAO)  investigative arm of Congress in financial issues  reviews spending activities of federal agencies  studies federal programs  recommends way to improve financial performance of government b) Congressional Budget Office (CBO)  source of financial and economic information to Congress members for making budgetary decisions  helps Congress stick to a budget plan 24
  25. 25. CONGRESS ATWORK  the basic job of Congress members is to get action done on constituents’ interests and concerns  members of Congress can be considered linkage institutions 25
  26. 26. CONGRESS ATWORK A. Lawmaking  write and introduce bills  take part in committee work  listen to input from people about the bill  vote on the bill  See section 6.4 “How a Bill Becomes a Law” 26
  27. 27. CONGRESS ATWORK B. Casework  help individual constituents deal with the federal government 1. Why bother with casework?  helps to get reelected  can better keep an eye on the executive branch ability to carry out the laws and programs  to help average citizens 27
  28. 28. CONGRESS ATWORK C. Helping the District or State  members of Congress try to bring money and jobs to their district or state 1. Public Works  building projects paid for by the government  creates a new service to the area  building projects bring new jobs to the area 28
  29. 29. CONGRESS ATWORK C. Helping the District or State 2. Grants and Contracts a) Grants  a grant is money given to a district or state for a specific purpose, it does not have to be paid back  grants bring federal money into the state which will be used to help benefit the people in the state  the money usually goes towards things that not just benefit the district or state but the nation 29
  30. 30. CONGRESS ATWORK C. Helping the District or State 2. Grants and Contracts b) Contracts  a contract is an agreement by government with a company for the production of some good or service  contracts ensure money to a company (or companies) for a period of time thus producing jobs  the goods or services produced usually produce the nation 30
  31. 31. CONGRESS ATWORK C. Helping the District or State 2. Grants and Contracts c) “Pork-Barrel” Projects  a grant or contract that primarily benefit the home district or state  members of Congress try to add pork- barrel projects to bills in order to bring more money into their state in order to gain favor with their constituents  added favor will mean more votes come election day or services produced usually produce the nation 31
  32. 32. Powers of Congress For use with section 6.2 ***NOTE: Most of the Information here is Review from earlier Chapters!***
  33. 33. I. LEGISLATIVE POWERS A. Expressed Powers • also called “delegated powers”, “enumerated powers” • these are the powers specifically given to Congress in Article I, section 8 33
  34. 34. I. LEGISLATIVE POWERS B. Implied Powers • powers the government exercises but are not specifically mentioned in the Constitution • found in Article I, section 8, clause 18 known as the “elastic clause” or the “necessary and proper clause” • gives Congress the ability to stretch its powers to meet the new needs of the nation while carrying out it’s duties 34
  35. 35. II. NONLEGISLATIVE POWERS A. Checks and Balances • these are powers of a branch of government that allow it to monitor and limit the powers of the others 1. Examples  propose amendments to the Constitution  Senate approves or reject Presidential appointments (including Supreme Court Justices, federal judges, ambassadors, cabinet members) 35
  36. 36. II. NONLEGISLATIVE POWERS 1. Examples a) impeach and removal of elected officials • in the case of misconduct by an elected official • a joint committee is formed to investigate and conduct hearings • the HOR drafts a bill that accuses the official of misconduct • the HOR debates the issues in the bill then votes • if the bill passes the official is officially impeached (formally accused of wrongdoing) • the Senate then conducts the trial • the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court runs the trial • it requires two-thirds of the Senate to convict the official 36
  37. 37. II. NONLEGISLATIVE POWERS B. Power Limitations • the Bill of Rights specifically limits and denies the federal government of certain powers • Article I section 9 of the Constitution also lays out many limitations on Congress 37
  38. 38. II. NONLEGISLATIVE POWERS B. Power Limitations 1. Denied Powers (Article I, section 9)  Congress cannot suspend the writ of habeas corpus  Congress may not pass a bill of attainder  Congress cannot pass an ex post facto law 38
  39. 39. II. NONLEGISLATIVE POWERS B. Power Limitations 2. Checks and Balances  the Supreme Court may declare laws established by Congress as unconstitutional  the president may veto bills passed by Congress before they can become laws (Congressional override: if 2/3 of both houses vote again in favor of a bill vetoed by the president then it will become law) 39