Clicker QuestionDo you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job? a) Strongly approve b) Approve c) Disapprove d) Strongly disapprove e) I don’t know…
Clicker QuestionDo you approve or disapprove of the way your member of Congress is handling his or her job? a) Strongly approve b) Approve c) Disapprove d) Strongly disapprove e) I don’t know…
Clicker Question"If the election for Congress were held today, would you vote for the Democratic candidate in your district or the Republican candidate in your district?" If unsure: "Well, if you had to vote, which way would you lean?" a) Democrat b) Republican c) Other
Clicker Question"Right now, are you inclined to vote to reelect your representative in Congress in the next election or are you inclined to look around for someone else to vote for?" a) Reelect b) Look Around c) Depends d) Unsure
Clicker QuestionDo you believe we should have term limits for Members of Congress? a) Yes b) No
Clicker QuestionShould we increase the Term Length of the House to 4 years? a) Yes b) No
Clicker QuestionA presidential veto can be overriddenby a: a. two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress b. majority vote in both houses of Congress c. three-fourths vote in the Senate d. majority vote in the House ofRepresentatives
Congress: The First BranchThe U.S. Congress is the “first branch” of government under Article I of our Constitution and is the world’s most important representative body.“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
Sociological Representation?Is it important that Congress be demographically representative of the American people?Descriptive Representation – Sometimes called sociological representation, means that the composition of a representative body reflects the demographic composition of the population as a whole.Would the lack of descriptive representation make a difference for democratic representation?
Clicker QuestionDo you think it is important that the demographics of Congress represent the social, racial and economic demographics of the country? a) Yes b) No
Women, African Americans andLatinos in Congress (1971-2008) Would Term Limits make this process faster?
Representatives as “Agents”While descriptive representation has not occurred, much evidence suggests that our representatives do work hard to represent the interests of their constituents…at least the ones who are paying attention.As agents, representatives only need do their duties if they know that we are evaluating their performance…
Electoral Connection?If representatives can somehow be punished or held to account for failing to speak properly for their constituents, then they have an incentive to provide good representation even if their own personal background, views, and interests differ from those they represent.Elections can create a “connection” between voters and elected officials…a connection that demands that officials represent the wishes of citizens Punished? Do we do this?
Clicker QuestionWhen members of Congress cast a vote, which of the following factors should typically most influence their decision?a) The interests of the country as a wholeb) The interests of their district or state
Americans clearlyHATE the job thatCongress, as awhole, is doing…
So then, we kick them out frequently, right?...
How Members Represent… Can Challengers do any of this?
Clicker QuestionI think that Pork Barrel spending is a HUGE problem and needs to be stopped. a) I agree b) I disagree
Pork Barrel Spending (or greasing the wheels of democracy…)Particularized Benefits: Funding for government programs whose benefits are concentrated in a particular area but whose costs are spread out among all taxpayers. COSTS = $19.6 BILLION = $ 64/personCredit-Claiming: Showing your district that you are working for them in Washington…whether you did it or not…
The Organization of CongressHow do 435 Representatives and 100 Senators go about thebusiness of legislating across broad policy areas eachconsisting of highly complex issues?How do things get done in Congress? 1. Political Parties and Leaders 2. Committee System 3. Regularized Process•The first Congress had no parties, no committees, and no realprocess of getting things done…The reason these structuresdeveloped is because each became a useful tool capable of makingthe work of Congress possible.
1. Party Leadership in the House and SenatePolitical parties in Congress (primarily the majority party)are the fundamental building blocks from which policycoalitions are fashioned to pass legislation and monitor itsimplementation.(Majorities = 218+ in House and 51+ in Senate)Caucus or ConferenceEvery two years, at the beginning of each new Congress,the members of each party gather to elect their leaders,plan strategies and make decisions regarding otherlegislative matters.
Parties in CongressMajority Party Status = Procedural Control (Controlof the Agenda…the Rules of the Game)•Key leadership positions – Speaker of the House, FloorLeaders, Whips•All committee andsubcommitteechairmanships•Surplus on committee ratios•Supermajority onRules Committee•Additional staff assistance tofacilitate action
Clicker QuestionWhich type of representation takes placewhen representatives have the sameracial, ethnic, religious, or educationalbackgrounds as their constituents? a. sociological b. delegate c. trustee d. agency
Clicker QuestionThe most common occupation amongmembers of Congress before coming toCongress is a. business executive. b. sales representative. c. professor. d. lawyer.
Clicker QuestionPork-barrel legislation a. deals with specific projects and their location within a particular congressional district. b. deals with specific agricultural subsidies. c. funds efforts to increase the levels of America’s meat exports. d. grants a special privilege to a person named in the bill.
Clicker QuestionMajority Party Status equals _______ control of the legislative process. a) Underhanded b) Procedural c) Committee d) Limited
Clicker QuestionThe need to divide the labor oflegislation is best exemplified inwhat formal structure of Congress? a. the establishment of party whips b. the establishment of standing committees c. the strict control over floor time in Congress d. the use of conference committees
2. The Committee System•The congressional committee system consists of a setof standing, select, and joint committees, each with itsown jurisdiction, membership, and authority to act.•As opposed to the hierarchy-of-power that determinesleadership arrangements, the committee systemrepresents a division and specialization-of-labor system.•Most of the work of Congress takes place in itscommittees and subcommittees.•Generally, members seek assignments that will allowthem to influence decision of special importance totheir districts.
How a Bill Becomes a LawThe rules and procedures thatgovern the entire policy process(from the introduction of a billthrough its submission to thepresident for signing) influencethe fate of every bill anddetermines the distribution ofpower (who gets to be thedecider) in the Congress.
1. Committee DeliberationNo floor action on any bill can take place until the committee withjurisdiction over it has taken all the time it needs to deliberate.Committees 1. Collect information through hearings andinvestigations 2. Draft the actual language of bills and resolutionsand (Markup) 3. Report the legislation to their parent chambersfor considerationMost bill are simply allowed to “die in committee” with little or noserious consideration because they were introduced simply toplease constituency groups.The majority party holds a majority and the chairperson on eachcommittee and therefore gets to decide who the “experts” are andhow to write the legislation they are considering before theypresent it back to the floor.
2. Rules Committee (Protecting Party Bills)Once a bill is approved by the relevant committee, thewhole bill or various parts of it are transmitted to a specialcommittee, the Rules Committee, which determines thespecific rules under which the legislation will beconsidered by the full House.Here the Speaker influences when debate will bescheduled (controlling the calendar), for how long, whatamendments will be in order, and in what order they will beconsidered.Open Rule – A rule placing no restrictions on amendments.Restrictive Rule – A rule restricting amendments during debateClosed Rule – A rule prohibiting all amendments during debate
Clicker Question“Closed rule” and “open rule” refer tocongressional provisions regarding a. whether deliberations are closed or open to the general public. b. assignment to powerful committees. c. whether lobbyists are allowed inside Congress. d. floor debate on a bill.
CongressRules Committee - Who’s on the Rules Committee? Majority (9) Minority (4)•Louise M.Slaughter, NY, Chair •David Dreier, Ranking Member, CA•James P. McGovern, MA •Lincoln Diaz-Balart, FL•Alcee Hastings, FL •Pete Sessions, TX•Doris Matsui, CA •Virginia Foxx, NC•Dennis Cardoza, CA•Michael Arcuri, NY•Ed Perlmutter, CO•Chellie Pingree, ME•Jared Polis, CO
3a. House DebateParty control of the agenda is reinforced by therule giving the Speaker of the House the powerof recognition during debate on a bill.Debate is governed by the “rule” assigned toeach bill. Typically, 1 to 1.5 hours allotted.In the House, virtually all of the time allotted bythe Rules Committee for debate on a given bill iscontrolled by the bill’s sponsor and by its leadingopponent (usually the committee chair andthe ranking minority member on thatcommittee).
Clicker Question“Closed rule” and “open rule” refer tocongressional provisions regarding a. whether deliberations are closed or open to the general public. b. assignment to powerful committees. c. whether lobbyists are allowed inside Congress. d. floor debate and amendments on a bill.
3b. Senate DebateIn the Senate, other than the power of recognition,the leadership does not have the same level ofcontrol over floor debate.There is no Rules Committee – Debate is technicallyunlimited. Filibuster – A tactic used by members of theMinority Party in the Senate to prevent action onlegislation they oppose by continuously holding thefloor and speaking until the majority backs down. Cloture – A vote of 60 Senators that can end afilibuster.
3c. Floor Voting and Party DisciplineIn both the House and Senate, party leaders have agood deal of influence over the behavior of their partymembers (The Whips).Building majority coalitions in support of party policypositions is a central job of leaders.Party leaders can influence legislators’ votesthrough the direct impact of the party leaders’tools of persuasion: committee assignments leadership positions campaign money
4. Conference CommitteeBills must pass both chambers of Congress in identicalform. If the chambers cannot both agree on a singleversion of a bill, a Conference Committee consisting ofmembers from both chambers meets to resolvedifferences. The Conference then reports back to both chambers who then vote on the “compromised” bill – the “CONFERENCE REPORT”Conference committees are appointed by theSpeaker and Senate Majority Leaders and arecomposed of senior members of the committeesor subcommittees that initiated the original bills.
5. Presidential ActionOnce adopted by the House and Senate, a bill goes to thepresident, who may choose to sign the bill into law or vetoit.The veto is the president’s constitutional power to reject apiece of legislation. The president must return a vetoed billwithin ten days to Congress along with his objections.Pocket Veto – If Congress adjourns during this 10 dayperiod and the president takes no action, the bill isconsidered to be vetoed.A presidential veto may be overridden by a two-thirds(2/3) vote in both the House and Senate.
CongressPresidential Vetoes and Overrides Veto Pocket Total Overrides