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Legislation problems in congress


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Legislation problems in congress

  1. 1. LegislationDifficulties
  2. 2. Introduction It is hard to pass legislation throughCongress eg 2005/06 -3% of billsbecame law Institutional and structural reasons –Bennett ‘it’s not so much that the systemdoesn’t work, but rather the system isdesigned not to work’ Constitutional system of checks andbalances- ‘separated institutions sharingpowers’ -Neustadt
  3. 3. The process The hurdles to enacting legislation aresubstantial Smith – ‘...most remarkable feature of thelegislative process is how much isstacked against the enactment of newlaw’ Standing committees have life and deathpower over bills as well as power ofamendment
  4. 4. Supermajorities Any bill must find a majority in both houses Any bill must find a majority of three fifths inthe Senate – filibuster- Obama health care Any bill must if it is opposed by the Presidentfind a majority of two thirds in both houses -Clinton vetoed the Late Term Abortion BanBill Legislation can be frustrated by a smallminority
  5. 5. Equal power Both houses have equal power in relationto legislation –balanced bicameralism Bills must be approved by the standingcommittees of both chambers; majoritiesneeded at second and third readings Conference committee
  6. 6. Party control More difficult when different partiescontrol the Senate and House eg 1981-87- a Republican controlled Senate and aDemocrat controlled House Different agenda and committees will bechaired by followers of different ideologies
  7. 7. Divided government Difficult for President to be successful withhis legislative agenda – Nixon, Ford(whole terms),Clinton’s second term andG.W. Bush last 2 years Clinton late 1990s supported a minimumwage but Republican Congress wantedcuts in federal programmes Presidential vetoes more common duringtimes of divided govt
  8. 8. Weak party discipline Even when the President has a majority inboth houses no guarantee of success Clinton – failed to get his healthcarereform through – scuppered by membersof his own party ;1990 Bush tax increasespassed only with Democrats support Most votes bipartisan -No Child LeftBehind-support of Democrats such as TedKennedy
  9. 9. Decentralisation of power 1950s/60s – possible to get legislationthrough by securing the support of ‘Kingsof the Hill’ –Speaker, majority leader,committee chairs 1970s onwards –subcommittee chairmenand ordinary members of Congress Mavericks - Lieberman