Article I Branch Congress is given the most power in the Constitution in relation to other branches The other branches can check the power of Congress, but the legal process starts in the legislature Powers (Article I, Section 8) Power of taxation and revenue-raising Levy troops Power of the purse Declaring war Regulate supply of money
Nature and Functions of Congress Lawmaking The process of establishing the legal rules that govern society Majority of bills originate in the executive branch; others traced to interest groups and political organizations Logrolling An arrangement in which two or more members of Congress agree in advance to support each other’s bills Often involves agreements to support legislative “pork” Earmarks “Pork” Special provisions in legislation to set aside funds for projects that have not passed an impartial evaluation by agencies of the executive branch
Nature and Functions of Congress Representation The function of members of Congress as elected officials representing the views of their constituents How do legislators fulfill this function? Trustee view -- legislators should act according to his/her conscience and the broad interests of society in general Instructed delegate view -- legislators who are an agent of the voters who elected him/her and who votes according to the views of constituents regardless of personal beliefs How much should personal belief influence a legislator?
The Senate Democracy of the States Part of the Great Compromise Represents smaller states “New Jersey Plan” Rule of the Elite Appointed and Select Overall Another way to limit government
The Senate: Why? Madison, Federalist #63 A senate is desirable because of the “want of a due sense of national character.” Respect “History informs us of no long-lived republic which had not a senate.” Besides, most of the constitutions of the ratifying states had bicameral legislatures
The Senate: Why? Madison, Federalist #63 A “sense of national character,” and “due responsibility in government” would not be found in the House of Representatives Too many people It is sufficiently difficult…to preserve a personal responsibility in the members of a numerous body…” Too frequent elections 2 years for the House vs. 6 years for the Senate
The Senate: Why? Madison, Federalist #63 Need for a “select and stable member of the government” Madison – “As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought, in all governments, and actually will, in all free governments, ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers, so there are particular moments in public affairs where the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentation of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn.”
The Senate: Why? The Senate is the force of stability in American politics A force of conservatism (not ideological, but in response to change) Examples: Dole and Republican leaders slow down Clinton (1993) Moderate Dems. and Reps. slow down Newt Gingrich (1995) G.W. Bush’s experiences were mixed Senate Dems. did not slow down his agenda in 2001, but gradually began to obstruct his agenda after the mid-term election This can be counterproductive Southern filibusters slowed Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts (1850s and 1960s)
House-Senate DifferencesHouse SenateMembers chosen from local districts Members chosen from entire state2 year terms 6 year termsElected by voters (direct) Elected by state legislatures (indirect) until 1913Can impeach (indict) federal officials Can convict federal officials who have been impeachedLarger # (435 members) Smaller # (100 members)More formal rules Less rules and restrictionsDebate limited Debate extendedLess individualism and prestige More media attention and prestigeOriginates bills for raising revenue Power to advise the president on, and to consent to, presidential appointments and treatiesLocal leadership National leadershipMore party loyalty Less party loyalty
The Filibuster Filibuster Use of the Senate’s tradition of unlimited debate as a delaying tactic to block a bill Existed in the House until 1811 Cloture Debate may be ended on a bill of 16 senators sign a petition requesting it and if, after 2 days have passed, 3/5s of the entire membership (60 votes) recommend ending debate Increased use in the 20th century Some are advocating for its abolition as polarized legislation has led many to threaten to filibuster on almost all legislation Sen. Strom Thurmond (D-SC) filibustered civil rights legislation for 24 hours and 19 minutes in 1957
Congressional Elections Incumbency Advantage Larger percentage of incident in the House than in the Senate 85-95% in House from 1960-1996; 50-95% in Senate from 1960-1996 Increased federal spending and importance of the media helps tremendously If the funding is coming to your hometown, you’ll probably vote for your representative again Regional-local entrenchment “We’ve always voted _________, so we’ll keep voting _________.” Sophomore surge Good indicator if a first-timer gets reelected
Districting and Redistricting Done by state legislatures MI, VA, CA, and TX in recent election cycles Reapportionment – allocation of seats in the House to each state after each census Redistricting – redrawing of the boundaries of the congressional districts within each state Gerrymandering Drawing of legislative district boundary lines for the purpose of obtaining partisan or factional advantage Called gerrymandered if the district’s shape is manipulated by the dominant party to maximize its electoral strength at the expense of the minority party There is some evidence that it helps incumbents win Majority-minority districts Advantage – minorities do get elected Disadvantage – dilutes minority voting power by lumping it all into one district “Racial gerrymandering” now unconstitutional – Shaw v. Reno (1993)
Committees in Congress Official function Hearings and bill mark-up Types: Standing, select, joint, and conference Hierarchy Big committees are those that spend or raise money House – Ways & Means, Appropriations Senate – Budget, Finance, and Appropriations Status committees – Commerce, Armed Services, Judiciary, and Agriculture
Committees in Congress Types Broken Down Standing -- a permanent committee in the House or Senate that considers bills within a specific subject area Ex. Agriculture, Homeland Security, and Judiciary Select – a temporary legislative committee established for a limited time and for a special purpose Ex. Formed to investigate public issues (sewage, child nutrition, etc.) Joint – a legislative committed composed of members from both the House and Senate Ex. Issues pertaining to economy, taxation, and the Library of Congress Conference – special joint committees appointed to reconcile differences when bills pass the two chambers in different forms Ex. 2011 debt ceiling issue
Committees in Congress Appointment to Committees Initially by party committees Once you’re in, selected by Seniority System Custom followed in both chambers of Congress specifying that the member of the majority party with the longest term of continuous service will be given preference when a committee chairperson is selected Committee Power Power to set the agenda: “gatekeeping power” over bills Oversight of agencies and the president Draw attention to a cause Grill individuals you don’t like (subpoena power is the same as the court system)
Theories on Committee Function Distributive theory Committees act as access points for earmarks “pork” Informational theory Committees act as fact finders Example: Why are primarily agricultural state representatives on the Agricultural committee? Distributive – agricultural state reps bring home the bacon to their farm constituents Informational – agricultural state reps should be on the Ag. Comm. because they know farms and Ag.
Parties in Congress Party Hierarchy House: Speaker of the House, Majority Leader, Minority Leader, and Whip Senate: President Pro Tempore, Majority Leader, Minority Leader, and Whip Policy Committee -- schedules legislation Steering Committee (Dems.) and Committee on Committees (Reps.) – committee assignments Campaign Committees – funding and organization for campaigns
Party Hierarchy House Speaker of the House – presiding officer in the House; always a member of the majority party and is the most powerful and influential member of the House Majority Leader of the House – selected by the majority party in caucus to foster cohesion among party members and to act as spokesperson for the majority party Minority Leader of the House – party leader elected by the minority party in the House Whip – member of Congress who aids the majority or minority leader of the House or Senate
Party Hierarchy Senate Vice President – presiding officer of the Senate; may vote to break a tie President Pro Tempore – temporary presiding officer of the Senate in the absence of the Vice President Senate Majority Leader – chief spokesperson of the majority party in the Senate; directs the legislative program and party strategy Senate Minority Leader – party officer in the Senate who commands the minority party’s opposition to the policies of the majority party; directs the legislative program and strategy of the minority party
Voting in Congress Types of votes In committee, approval voting (yeas and nays) on floor, roll-call voting Complicating voter inference Smaller provisions complicate this Easy to say someone voted against a program when they actually voted against a larger bill that contained provisions for that program Ideology and Party affiliation heavily weigh on voting 2011 Debt Crisis is a prime example Spatial Voting
Spatial Voting Liberal Voter Conservative VoterLeft Right The Median VoterMedian Voter Theory: Under certain condition (defined preferences andfree of irrelevant alternatives) median voter’s position is decisive in amajority rule contest
Ideological (Spatial) Placement of SenatorsKennedy Feingold McCain Hutchison HelmsLeft Right
Spatial Voting: An Example Five Senators (classic example) Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Russ Feingold (D-WI), John McCain (R- AZ), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Jesse Helms (R-NC) Four Bills $20 billion income tax increase Expanding FDA powers over the tobacco industry Increasing welfare spending by $10 billion University research projects funding increase by $500 million
Spatial Voting: An ExampleSenator Tax Welfare FDA Univ $$Kennedy Y Y Y YFeingold N Y Y YMcCain N N Y YHutchison N N N YHelms N N N N
Government Spending Executive Budget The budget prepared and submitted to Congress by the president Since 1922, Congress requires the president to submit a federal budget of government expenditures Fiscal year (FY) A 12 month period that is used for federal budgetary accounting purposes Runs from October 1 through September 30 of each year Spring Review Annual process to which the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires federal agencies to review their programs activities, and goals and submit their requests for funding for the next fiscal year Fall Review Annual process in which the OMB, after receiving formal federal agency requests for funding for the next fiscal year reviews the requests, makes changes, and submits its recommendations to the president
Government Spending In January of each year, the president takes the OMB’s proposed budget, approves it, and submits it to Congress The Congressional Budgeting Process takes over: Authorization – formal declaration by a legislative committee that a certain amount of funding may be available to an agency Some authorizations terminate in a year; some are renewed automatically Appropriation – the passage, by Congress, of a spending bill specifying the amount of authorized funds that actually will be allocated for an agency’s use
Budget Resolutions First Budget Resolution A resolution passed by Congress in May that sets overall revenue and spending goals for the following fiscal year Second Budget Resolution A resolution passed by Congress in September that sets “binding” limits on taxes and spending for the following fiscal year In reality, Congress has completed its budget on time in only 3 years since 1977 This is partially the reason for the “Debt Crisis of 2011” Continuing Resolution A temporary funding law that Congress passes when an appropriations bill has not been decided by the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1 Ex. In October 2010, Congress began arguing over rising government expenditure, did not pass appropriations or a continuing resolution and thus, here we are today
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