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  • 1. AP American Government Chapter 11 Congress
  • 2. Chapter 11
    • Article I: The Legislative Branch
    • “ All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate, and a House of Representatives .”
  • 3. Core of the Analysis
    • The power of Congress is a function of its capacity to effectively represent important groups and forces in society.
    • During the first hundred years of U.S. government, Congress was the dominant institution; with the beginning of the New Deal, the presidency became the more accessible, dominant branch of U.S. government.
    • Before a bill can become a law, it must pass through the legislative process, a complex set of organizations and procedures in Congress.
    • The legislative process is driven by six sets of political forces: political parties, committees, staffs, caucuses, rules of lawmaking, and the president.
  • 4. Founders’ Intentions
    • Most powerful branch of government
    • Representative assembly
    • Accessible to the people
    • Bicameral legislature addresses concerns over:
      • Excessive power in single institution
      • Mob rule
      • Manner of representation
    • Congress would be the dominant branch of government
  • 5. Centralization vs. Decentralization
    • Argument of Centralization vs. Decentralization
      • Allow congress to act decisively and quickly or protect individual members’ interests
    • 1889-1910 Strong centralization
      • Speaker Thomas Reed exercised power
      • Joseph Cannon followed and continued strong centralization
    • 1910- Era of decentralization
      • Members vote without fear of repercussions
  • 6. Centralization vs. Decentralization
    • Decentralization led to an increase in the power of Committee chairs and the seniority system to select committee chairs
    • Further decentralization in the 70s- increased subcommittees lead to more power of subcommittee chairs
    • Senate is naturally a more decentralized and informal body
  • 7. Congress in Its Original Form
    • Dominated government
    • Speakers of the House were more important than the president
    • Epitome of government (declare war and collect taxes)
  • 8. Powers of Congress
    • Expressed Powers
      • Levy taxes
      • Borrow money
      • Regulate foreign, interstate and Indian commerce (broadly interpreted by Congress)
      • Naturalization and Bankruptcy laws
      • Coin money
      • Establish weights and measures
      • Post offices
      • Create courts inferior to Supreme Court
      • Define and Punish piracy
      • Declare War
      • Raise and support an army and navy
  • 9. Powers of Congress
    • Implied Powers
      • Based upon elastic clause
      • Examples: national banks, paper money, air force, CIA
      • Strict v. loose constructionist approaches
  • 10. Powers of Congress
    • Institutional Powers (those that relate to the system of checks and balances)
      • Senate ratifies treaties with 2/3 votes
      • Senate approves presidential appointments with majority vote
      • House votes for impeachment (majority vote needed), Senate tries impeachment cases (2/3 vote to convict)
      • House elects President if no electoral majority, Senate elects VP
      • Propose constitutional amendments w/ 2/3 vote in both houses.
      • Each can seat, unseat and punish (e.g. censure) own members
  • 11. Powers of Congress
    • Powers Denied
      • Passing ex post facto laws
      • Passing bills of attainder
      • Suspending habeas corpus except in cases of rebellion or invasion
  • 12. Overview of Congress
    • Terms and Sessions
    • Term of Congress lasts two years
    • Term begins Jan. 3 of every odd numbered year
    • Terms numbered consecutively (105th from 1997-1999; 106th ‘99-01; 107th ‘01-03; 108th ‘03-05)
    • Adjournment: end of a term; date must be agreed upon by both houses
    • Two regular sessions per term. Periodic recesses (not to be confused w/ adjournment)
  • 13. Overview of Congress- House
    • Qualifications
    • 25 years of age
    • Citizenship for 7 years
    • Residency in state
  • 14. Overview of Congress- House
    • Size
      • Determined by Congress: 435 since 1911
      • Members elected by districts, not states
      • Reps per state determined by population
      • Demographics show increase in Sun Belt and decrease in Frost Belt representations
  • 15. Overview of Congress- House
    • Terms -
    • Two years
    • Entire body up for reelection every two years = a more responsive body to be kept in check by the Senate
    • Terms limits passed by some states, but ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (US Term Limits v Thornton, 1995)
  • 16. Overview of Congress- House
    • House Structure
      • Centralized and organized
      • Less debate
      • Restricted access to the floor
      • Individual members have limited power
    • Functions
      • Originate all revenue bills
      • Agents of local interests
  • 17. Overview of Congress -Senate
    • Requirements
      • Thirty years of age
      • Nine years of citizenship
      • Six-year term
  • 18. Overview of Congress -Senate
    • Size
    • 100 members, chosen in statewide elections
    • Smaller size makes it a more informal body with less need than the House for as many strict procedures.
    • Terms
    • 6 years. 1/3 up for reelection every two years
    • Staggered terms allow for a more stable body.
  • 19. Overview of Congress -Senate Structure
    • Regional and national constituencies
    • Represent elites (Senators appointed by state legislatures until Seventeenth Amendment) (1913)
    • More deliberative: no time limits on speaking
    • Filibuster: speak as long as they want to oppose an action
  • 20. Overview of Congress
    • Compensation
    • Members set their own salary
    • 27th amendment prevents raises from taking effect until the following term
    • Perks: staff, travel allowance, office space, franking privilege , insurance
    • Cannot be arrested/ detained while going to or from a session of Congress.
  • 21. Overview of Congress
    • Membership
    • Overrepresentation of white, male, Protestant, upper-middle class lawyers in their 50s
    • But…
    • Many more women and minorities in recent years
    • No reason why above group cannot represent the poor and afflicted
    • People in the end elect these representatives
  • 22. table 5.1
  • 23. Idea of Representation
    • House member’s responsibilities
      • Speaks or acts on behalf of someone
      • In 1789, represented 30,000 constituents
      • Today, 600,000 persons in each constituency
  • 24. Representative's role
    • Instrument for policy
    • Perform constituency service (intervene on behalf of citizens with INS, EPA, or help with other needs—capitol tours, tickets to viewing gallery)
    • Patronage activities provide direct service to constituents
      • Reward contributors
    • Re-election motives Congress
    • Distributive tendency : pork-barrel legislation funds local work projects to bring federal money to the states
  • 25. process box 5. 1
  • 26. figure 5.1
  • 27. Incumbency Advantage
    • Reelection rate in House 90%
    • Reelection rate in Senate 80%
    • Relatively few seats are seriously contested
    • “ Permanent Congress”
    • Election of 1994 (104th) more a call against Dems than incumbents
    • But… retirements open up a lot of seats each year
  • 28. Incumbency Advantage
    • Specific Advantages
    • Franking privilege
    • Staffers
    • Patronage
    • Name recognition
    • Casework
    • Money, esp. from PACs
  • 29. Incumbency Advantage
    • Special Advantage: Gerrymandering
    • 1. Reapportionment: Redistribution of 435 seats in the House on the basis of changes in the state populations.
    • a. Reps per state determined by pop.
    • b. Census conducted every 10 yrs.
    • c. Census shows populations changes and seats are allotted based upon new numbers
  • 30. Incumbency Advantage
    • Special Advantage: Gerrymandering
    • 2. Redistricting : When seats change, district boundaries must change.
    • a. Party controlling state legislature redraws district boundaries.
    • b. Gerrymandering = redrawing boundaries to favor party in power
  • 31. Incumbency Advantage
    • Special Advantage: Gerrymandering
    • Origins of term:
    • 19th century Governor Elbridge Gerry redrew lines himself with some having such strange shapes, they looked like salamanders.
    • Party in Power keeps power by:
    • “ Packing”- concentrate opposition population in few districts
    • “ Cracking”- Disperse opp. Party throughout state to dilute their impact
  • 32. Incumbency Advantage
    • Special Advantage: Gerrymandering
    • Effects of Gerrymandering
    • Party in power, STAYS in power
    • Safe seats are created
    • Odd-shaped districts
    • “Majority-Minority” districts created by racial gerrymandering
  • 33. Incumbency Advantage
    • Redistricting Requirements:
    • Districts must be as near equal in population as possible
      • a. Baker v. Carr, 1962 “one man, one vote” principle applied to state leg districts to correct overrepresentation of rural areas.
    • District lines must be contiguous
    • Racial gerrymandering is prohibited (Shaw v. Reno, 1993). Race may not be the primary factor in drawing district lines (Miller v. Johnson, 1995)
  • 34. Organization of Congress
    • Party leadership fosters:
      • cooperation
      • coalitions
      • compromise
  • 35. Organization of House gov /
    • A majority in the House elects Speaker of the House
      • Majority party determines agendas/roles
      • Speaker of the House controls the calendar, sets the legislative agenda, and has the power to recognize speakers
      • Majority whip maintains party unity, polls members on bills and develops party support for legislative goals
      • Committee chairs (all are majority party)
      • Representatives seek assignments that allow them to influence decisions important to their districts
      • Minority leader is senior leader of the minority party
      • Minority whip maintains party unity and promotes minority party's agenda
  • 36. figure 5.2
  • 37. Organization of Senate http://www.senate. gov /
    • Majority leader controls calendar, sets agenda, has power to recognize speakers
    • Majority whip maintains party unity and promotes majority party's agenda
    • Minority leader is senior leader of the minority party
    • Minority whip maintains party unity and promotes minority party's agenda
    • Vice president presides over important votes, can break a tie
    • President Pro Tempore (3rd in line for Prez); presides in absence of VP
  • 38. figure 5.3
  • 39. Committee System
    • Core of Congress where bills are considered
      • Committees allow members to specialize in policy areas and become experts
    • Congressional division of labor achieved through committees
      • Committee chairs act as "gatekeepers“
    • Standing committees have fixed membership, officers, rules, staff, and offices
      • Majority party sets rules and chooses officers
      • Majority party always has most committee members
      • Jurisdiction is defined by subject matter of legislation
  • 40. Committee System
    • Committee functions:
      • Handle legislation
      • Conduct investigation of exec. Branch on an as-needed basis
      • Conduct oversight of exec. Branch agencies on an ongoing basis.
  • 41. Committee System
    • Selection of members:
      • Importance of getting on the right committee (where you can best represent your constituents)
      • Assigned by Steering committee or Committee on Committees
      • Party with majority in Congress has majority of seats on committee
    • Selection of Committee chairs
      • Secret ballot in party caucus or conference of leaders.
      • Seniority rule generally followed.
      • Advantages of seniority rules: experience, stability, expertise.
  • 42. Committee System
    • Standing committees are the permanent committees of Congress. They have both legislative and oversight powers.
    • House Standing:
      • Rules (most powerful of all)
      • Ways and means (deals with tax bills)
      • Appropriations (spending)
      • Budget
      • Armed Services
  • 43. Committee System
    • Standing committees are the permanent committees of Congress. They have both legislative and oversight powers.
    • Senate Standing:
      • Finance (tax bills)
      • Appropriations (spending)
      • Budget
      • Foreign Relations (prestigious) Treaty and ambassador work
      • Judiciary: screen judicial nominees
  • 44. Committee System
    • Conference committees:
      • Temporary committees comprised of members of both houses
      • Develop compromise language for a bill when versions differ
      • After conference committee sends bill back - no amendments are allowed and bill is generally passed
      • “ Third House of Congress”
    • Other Committees
    • Select: temporary purpose in House
    • Joint: Both houses for temporary purpose
  • 45. Committee System
    • Party Committees in Congress:
    • Senate:
    • Assigning party members to standing committees:
      • Dems use Steering committee
      • Reps use Committee on Committees
    • House:
    • Assigning party members to standing committees:
      • Dems use Steering and Policy Committee
      • Reps use Committee on Committees
  • 46. table 5.2
  • 47. Examples
    • Farm subsidy bills go to Agriculture Committee
    • Highway bills go to Transportation Committee
    • GI Bill benefits go to Veteran’s Affairs Committee
    • House Rules Committee decides the order in which bills come up for a vote and determine the rules that govern length of debate and opportunity for amendments
  • 48. House committees parallel the executive branch
    • Committee on judiciary checks Justice Department
    • Committee on commerce checks Commerce Department
    • Committee on national security checks Defense Department
    • 95 percent of the 10,000 bills introduced die in committee
    • Committee chair is from majority party
      • Schedules hearings
      • Selects subcommittee members
      • Appoints committee staff
  • 49. Influences: Cooperation in Congress
    • Members act for various reasons
      • Politicians are eager to please major campaign contributors
      • Politicians pursue their own agendas
        • When acting as delegates, members do the public's bidding
        • When acting as trustees, members do what they think is right
    • Because of a diversity of interests, legislative consensus is required for bills to become laws
    • Cooperation forms from political parties, regional, or ideological commonalities
    • Cooperation also results from "back-scratching“
  • 50. Problems Underlying Cooperation
    • Various policy preferences prevent a dominant view on issues
    • All legislators are equal and therefore cannot succumb to more powerful legislators
    • Ambiguous information on how to solve problems—legislators vote for policies not outcomes
  • 51. figure 5.4
  • 52. Distributive Tendency in Congress
    • Legislators advocate their constituents' interests to secure appropriations for their districts
    • During campaigns legislators use federal funding to advertise that they are successful for their districts
    • Since all legislators are subject to re-election, there is a tendency for legislators to support others' pet projects in exchange for their support (logrolling)
  • 53. Congress Members Rely on Staff System
    • Second in importance to committees
    • Authorized budget
    • Two offices (local and Washington, DC)
    • Handle casework of federal matters
  • 54. Tasks of Congressperson’s Staff
    • Handle constituency requests
    • Deal with legislative details
    • Formulate and draft proposals
    • Negotiate with lobbyists
    • Influence legislative process
  • 55. Other influences on Members
    • Constituent convictions
    • Members convictions
    • Other members
    • Staff
    • Interest groups, lobbies, PACs
    • Congressional Caucuses (black, Hispanic, etc)
    • President
    • Campaign contributors
    • Media as “watchdog”
    • Party membership of member
    • “ Iron triangles” ( Congressional committee, related federal agency and impacted interest group)
  • 56. Caucus System
    • Groups of legislators who share opinions, interests, or social characteristics;
    • Congressional interest group
      • Examples
        • Steel Caucus
        • Caucus for Women’s Issues
        • Black Caucus
  • 57. Legislation -Public Bills
    • Concern class action
    • 10,000 introduced per term
    • Five-hundred pass per term
  • 58. Legislation -Private Bills
    • Relate to actions on behalf of and relating to a named individual
    • Twenty per term
      • Immigration matters
      • Claims against the government
  • 59. Legislation - Resolutions
    • Used to extend existing legislation
    • Simple
    • Pass in only one House depending whom the bill deals with
  • 60. Legislation -Concurrent
    • Expression of opinions by Congress and requires approval of both Houses
    • Not sent to the president
    • Does not have the force of law
  • 61. Legislation - Executive Documents
    • Treaty ratification (two-thirds of Senate)
    • Confirmation of major appointees, judges, and military officers (simple majority)
    • Reorganization of the executive branch
  • 62. After bill is introduced, it is sent to the appropriate committee for deliberation
    • Referred to subcommittee
    • Hearings
    • Testimony
    • Determine whether it should go to full committee for consideration
    • Committee
      • May accept, hold hearings, amend or the bill may die in committee
  • 63. If legislation leaves committee, goes to the Rules Committee
    • Closed rule : severe time limits on debate
    • Open rule : no time limits
      • Open rule can allow time for damaging debate and amendments
    • Calendar controls the agenda of the Congress
    • Floor debate : •opportunity for a member to make a position public
      • Controlled by the Speaker or Senate Majority Leader
      • Most time for debate is allotted to bill’s sponsor and its leading opponent
    • What can end a filibuster? (three-fifths majority or sixty votes: cloture)
  • 64. If the Bill survives, the Process Continues
    • Senate: non-germane or rider allowed
    • House: limited by the rule that accompanies the bill
    • Voting by roll call
    • Conference Committee
      • Reconciles two versions of a similar bill
      • Usually a compromise
    • President receives the bill and can do three things
    • Sign the bill into law
      • Veto: return bill within ten days with explanation
      • Pocket veto: president takes no action before Congress adjourns
  • 65. process box 5.2
  • 66. Additional Congressional Powers
    • Oversight
        • Oversee or supervise Executive Actions; broad area or problem
      • Examples
        • Intelligence oversight: ensures military does not collect intelligence on civilians
        • Uncover illegal activities: Iran-Contra
  • 67. Additional Congressional Powers
    • Advice and Consent
      • Treaties require two-thirds majority in the Senate
      • Appointments require a majority
  • 68. Efforts to level the field when campaigning for office
    • Limit amount of money that can be spent on campaigns
    • House campaigns every two years
      • Average $500,000
      • Always campaigning
    • Senate every six years
      • Average $10 million
    • Increase access to ballots
  • 69. The Case against Congress
    • Congress is inefficient
    • Congress is unrepresentative
    • Congress is unethical
    • Congress is irresponsible
      • Example: Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Bill (instituted mandatory budget cuts since Congress could not balance the budget)
    • Congress delegates its power to Executive