Chapter 6 – The Legislative Branch


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Chapter 6 – The Legislative Branch

  1. 1. Chapter 6 – The Legislative Branch Section 1 – How Congress is Organized Mr. Gibbs – January 2009
  2. 2. Virginia Plan vs. New Jersey Plan <ul><li>Virginia Plan :“Representation should be based on population” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Big States – “YES!!!! AWESOME IDEA YOU GUYS!” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Small States – “Grumble. Grumble. Grumble.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>NJ Plan : “Equal Representation – regardless of population” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Small States:“YES!!!! AWESOME IDEA YOU GUYS!” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Big States: “Grumble. Grumble. Grumble.” </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. The Great Compromise <ul><li>Roger Sherman: “We shall have 2 houses!” </li></ul><ul><li>A Bi-Cameral Legislature </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Upper House: Senate (equal rep.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lower House – House of Representatives (based on pop.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Together they form “Congress” </li></ul></ul>
  4. 5. Terms of Congress <ul><li>Each “Congress” – the 535 elected reps meet from January 3 rd in an odd number year and are in office for a term of 2 years. </li></ul><ul><li>A “Congressional Term” consists of two “Sessions” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A “Session” runs from January 3 rd until November or December </li></ul></ul>
  5. 6. Congressional Sessions <ul><li>Typical session </li></ul><ul><li>Joint session </li></ul><ul><li>Special Session </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ times of crisis” </li></ul></ul>
  6. 7. The House of Representatives <ul><li>435 – based on population </li></ul><ul><li>At least 1 – no matter how small you are </li></ul><ul><li>Census </li></ul><ul><li>2 year terms </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on their “district” </li></ul>
  7. 9. Districts? <ul><li>1 elected from each district </li></ul><ul><li>Each district must be roughly the same size and include the same number of constituents </li></ul><ul><li>What is “Gerrymandering” </li></ul>
  8. 10. The Senate <ul><li>100 members, 2 from each state </li></ul><ul><li>Rep the state…not the district </li></ul><ul><li>6 year terms – but with a staggered election </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Huh? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Dies, Resigns, changes roles? </li></ul>
  9. 12. Majority Party vs. Minority Party <ul><li>435 and 100 (218 and 51) – leaders chosen in both parties (“Senate Majority Leader”) </li></ul><ul><li>Leader of the House of Representatives? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The “Speaker of the House” – elected by his fellow party members </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Leader of the Senate? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Vice President presides over Senate…but only votes to break a tie </li></ul></ul>
  10. 13. Profile of the 110 Congress 2007-2009 <ul><li>House Senate </li></ul><ul><li>Democrats 233 49 </li></ul><ul><li>Republicans 202 49 </li></ul><ul><li>Independents 0 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Women 70 14 </li></ul><ul><li>Blacks 42 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Hispanics 24 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Average age - 55 </li></ul><ul><li>Re-elected - 96% House and 93% Senate </li></ul>
  11. 14. Profile of the NEW 111th Congress 2009-2010 <ul><li>House Senate </li></ul><ul><li>Democrats 254 56 </li></ul><ul><li>Republicans 173 40 </li></ul><ul><li>Independents 0 2 </li></ul>
  12. 15. Role of the Speaker of the House <ul><li>Steers Legislation </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct all debates on the floor </li></ul><ul><li>1.) President. 2.) Vice President 3.) Speaker of the House </li></ul><ul><li>Listens to conversations regarding support or non-support of certain legislature </li></ul><ul><li>Garners support from other reps for key issues </li></ul>
  13. 17. Role of the ______________? <ul><li>(several leadership roles in Senate) </li></ul><ul><li>Vice President </li></ul><ul><li>President Pro Tempore </li></ul><ul><li>Floor Leaders </li></ul><ul><li>Whip </li></ul>
  14. 18. Committee Work <ul><li>MAIN IDEA: MUCH OF THE ACTUAL WORK OF LEGISLATING IS PERFORMED BY COMMITTEE AND SUBCOMMITTEES WITHIN CONGRESS </li></ul><ul><li>“ Each house of Congress must consider thousands of bills (proposed laws) in the course of a session. To make it possible to handle so many bills at one time, each house has developed a system of committees” </li></ul>
  15. 19. Congressional Committees <ul><li>Standing Committees </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Always in existence – located in both houses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Agriculture, commerce, veterans’ affairs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Select Committees </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Temporary – only in existence for a limited time – and end when they meet their specific goal(s)/assigned task </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Joint Committees </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Members from both houses involved – specific issues </li></ul></ul>
  16. 20. Committee Assignments <ul><li>Party Leaders make the committee assignments </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Members’ preference </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expertise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Loyalty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seniority </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Chairmen come from the member who has the most “seniority” </li></ul>
  17. 21. Seniority System <ul><li>2 sides to the argument: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1.) prevents fights over committee jobs & ensures that the chairpersons will have experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2.) Talented people have been overlooked, not fair to reward people simply for “being there” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Congress has started to move away from the Seniority System </li></ul>