Socio-Economic Characteristics of Congress 112th Congress
Currently a Divided Government – House of Representatives is GOP and Senate is Democratic and
the President is Democratic. Divided government is one or both houses are different from the party
of the President.
Most Under-represented group in the US Senate? WOMEN – AP Question
Congress is their main source of income. Remember the 27 Amendment. The current salary for rank-and-file
members of the House and Senate is $165,200 per year. Members are free to turn down pay increase and
some choose to do so.
Rep. John Boehner becomes the 53rd speaker of the House though it will be the 61st term for a speaker 112th:
78 women in the House; 25 Republican, 53 Democrat
18 women senators; 5 Republican, 13 Democrat
44 African Americans in the House; 2 Republican, 42 Democrat
34 freshmen affiliated with Tea Parties, 29 in the House and five in the Senate
43 freshman lawmakers never held elected office before; three Senate Republicans, 39 House Republicans and one House
209 lawmakers came from the business arena, 28 in the Senate and 181 in the House.
29 freshmen in the House and Senate had at one time been a small business owner
200 members have practiced law as a profession; 52 in the Senate and 148 in the House
24 members are in the medical profession or were doctors; five in the Senate and 19 in the House
26 members in the Senate are military veterans; 12 Democrats and 14 Republicans
92 members in the House are military veterans; 26 Democrats and 66 Republicans - Source Fox News
Source – Fox News
Party - Senate Party – House of Rep.
Democratic Independent Republican Total Vacant
Democratic Republican Total
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/01/05/congress-numbers-ths-new-composition/#ixzz1kwrrfsXV
End of previous congress 56 2 42 100 0 End of
previous 255 179 434 1
Begin 100 congress
May 3, 2011 51 2 46 99 1
Begin 242 435 0
May 9, 2011 47 100 0
February 9, 193
Latest voting share 53% 47% 2011
2011 433 2
May 9, 2011 432 3
May 24, 2011 193 433 2
June 21, 2011 192 240 432 3
July 12, 2011 193 433 2
August 3, 2011 432 3
September 13, 192
2011 434 1
191 433 2
voting 44.1% 55.9%
Congressional Duties (Ha! Ha! Ha! Duties)
1. Legislator – This is what Congress does. They write and try to pass legislation.
2. Committee Members – This is where the bulk of the work is done
3. Represent and Serve their Constituency – That is of course us the people they represent. This
is called the mark up session because legislation gets substantially changed. Also, very few
bills ever make it out of committee.
4. Oversight function – Watch dogging. The below cartoon is a good example of the watch
How they Vote?
1. Attitudinal – Voting on your Merit or Conscious.
What the Congressmen thinks is right and wrong.
2. Organizational / Partisan – Voting for Your Party. This is the number one way Congressmen
vote some 80% of the time.
3. Representational - Voting for your Constituents. They will vote this way especially around
Primary and General election time.
How can Congress get away with
voting with their parties rather
than voting for their
Because their party leaders
inside Congress affect their
power and position more than
the people they represent. Most John McCain “maverick”
of us do not pay attention to how
status was given to him for
our Congressmen vote.
Congressional leadership pays
his propensity to vote
very close attention and can against his own party.
punish Congress men for not
ACU – American Conservative Union – C However, that has also
voting with the party. hurt him in gaining
ADA – Americans for Democratic Action - L leadership positions within
his own party.
112th Congress – Your State and District!
House of Representatives – The House has 2 Year terms with no term limits. All 435 members are up
for reelection every 2 years. Midterm elections are elections that occur in non-Presidential election
Congressman Steven C. LaTourette Constitutional Qualifications for the
14 Congressional District House of Representatives
1 Victoria Place
Room 320 1. Must be 25 or Older
Painesville, Ohio 44077 2. Must be a citizen for 7 Years
3. Must live in the state he or she is
(440) 352-3939 (800) 447-0529 chosen.
14th Congressional District Congressman Steven C. LaTourette represents Ohio's 14th
Congressional District, which is located in Northeast Ohio and includes the Cleveland-Akron area.
The district includes all of Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties, and part of Cuyahoga, Summit,
Trumbull and Portage counties. The district has large industrial, commercial, retail, residential and
rural areas, and has the largest portion of Lake Erie shoreline of any congressional district in Ohio.
All told, there are 22 cities, 34 villages and 63 townships in the 14th District.
moving into a state
or district that is
open even though
they never have
never lived there.
Senate – The Senate has 6 Year terms with no term limits. The Senate terms are staggered which
means the Senate is a Continuous Body that is only 1/3rd are up for reelection election at one time.
Honorable George V. Honorable Sherrod Brown
Voinovich (2000 – (2006 – 2014)
Republican 600 East Superior Avenue,
524 Hart Senate #2450
Office Building Cleveland, OH 44114
Washington, DC Phone: (216) 522-7272
Constitutional Qualifications for the
1. Must be 30 or Older
2. Must be a citizen for 9 Years
3. Must live in the state he or she is
Ohio’s Congressional District Map
Congressional district maps are drawn by the state legislature every 10 years based on the census.
Below is Ohio’s Congressional District Map which will last until 2012.
112th Congress Leadership
Voted on by the Party Caucus or a meeting of party members, the exception is the President pro tempore position is based on
Position Member Position Member
Majority Leader Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) R
Harry Reid (Nev.) D
Chairman of Democratic Caucus
Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) R
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) D
Conference Chair Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) R
Vice-chair of Democratic Caucus Charles Schumer (N.Y) D
Chairman of DSCC Robert Menendez (N.J.) D Conference Vice-Chair John Thune (S.D.) R
Conference secretary Patty Murray (Wash.) D Policy Committee Chairman John Ensign (Nev.) R
Chair of the steering committee Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) D Chairman of the NRSC John Cornyn (Texas) R
House of Representatives
Speaker of the House
John Boehner (R)
Speaker: John Boehner (R)
Majority (Republican) leadership
Majority Leader: Eric Cantor
Majority Whip: Kevin McCarthy
Majority Chief Deputy Whip: Peter Roskam
Conference Chair: Jeb Hensarling
Campaign Committee Chairman: Pete Sessions
Policy Committee Chairman: Tom Price
Conference Vice-Chair: Cathy McMorris Rodgers
112th Current Congressional Leadership
House of Representatives –
Terms – 2 Year terms with no term limits. All 435 members are up for re-election every two years.
The House has a high reelection rate. The House has much higher than the Senate. Why?
1. Incumbency Status – Incumbency status is whether the candidate already holds office. People know their name.
This is called name recognition.
2. They get free postage called Franking Privilege. This is a benefit because they advertise to their Constituents
without having to pay for it. Their challengers do have to cover the cost themselves.
3. The Congressman makes political connections in DC. They can create close relationships with other powerful
political leaders who might help them get elected.
4. Constituent services or casework involves helping constituents as individuals such as helping with red tape.
Sometimes it involves sponsoring “pork barrel” legislation where bills are written that help the people living in
the district. AP students should know constituents deal with Congressional staff more directly than they deal
with the Congressman themselves.
5. Congressional District Lines, drawn by state general assemblies are done in such a way to make it beneficial for
the person already holding office. The State legislatures wish to create Safe districts. These are districts that are
one by over 55%. Marginal districts create uncertainty and can be won by either the challenger or the incumbent.
These are districts that are won by less than 55%. Whatever party controls the state legislature generally draws
the districts in a way that is advantageous to their party’s congressman. The phenomenon known as Sophomore
Surge is when a Congressman has a close election the first time in a marginal district, but because he has all the
advantages of being an incumbent, the congressman wins by a landslide after two years in office in a Safe
6. majority-minority districts are political districts in which members of a racial minority make up an effective voting
majority. This gives them the ability to participate and elect representatives of their own choosing, and has been
the solution of choice in situations where there is, or could be, racial vote dilution. Majority minority districts
tend to hurt Democrats and help Republicans.
435 Members of the House – Based on Census Information taken every 10 Years with President and
Congressional Approval. Re-apportionment happens after the Census. Each state Congressional
district maps are re-drawn after the census. There are 18 Congressional districts in Ohio currently.
It is likely that Ohio will lose at least 1 possibly 2 Congressional districts in 2010 due to falling
Single Member Districts. – One Congressman for every Congressional District. Apportionment – 1
Congressman = roughly 650,000 constituents.
Mal-apportionment is when the congressional district is over or under-represented. Mal-
apportionment is unconstitutional with the case Baker v Carr 1963. The case established the One
person = One vote Test. Each district had to roughly equal 650,000 and cannot be drawn to the
advantage of a group.
Gerrymandering – drawing Congressional Districts to the advantage or disadvantage of a certain
group. Racial Gerrymandering was ruled unconstitutional with the case of Shaw v Reno 1993.
However, political gerrymandering is difficult to prove and is accepted in certain circumstance.
Since Congressional districts are drawn by the State Legislature and in Ohio the GOP controlled the
state legislature in 2000, we can only assume that they will draw the Congressional district lines in a
way that is beneficial to their party. The Democrats would do the same if they were in power. It is
technically illegal. But it’s hard to prove! Gerrymandered Districts generally look different. Can you
pick the gerrymandered district? (Insulting, Isn’t it?)
6 year terms with not term limits.
The Senate is a Continuous body which means only 1/3rd of the senators run for reelection
every two years.
Senate has two members from each state regardless of size.
Below are Ohio’s two Senators.
Honorable George V. Voinovich Honorable Sherrod Brown
(2000 – 2012) (2005 – 2013) D
Republican 600 East Superior Avenue,
524 Hart Senate Office Building #2450
Washington, DC 20510 Cleveland, OH 44114
(202) 224-3353 Phone: (216) 522-7272
Before Amendment 17 in 1913. Senators were chosen by the state legislature. They are now
voted on by the people of the state.
The senate does not have as high of reelection as the House.
Why 6 Years? Because they are suppose to focus on the big picture. That is global and
national issues. House members tend to worry just about their own Congressional districts.
DIFFERENCES IN OPERATION BETWEEN THE HOUSE AND SENATE – AP Kids
Should Know these because this would make a great free response question.
More centralized, more formal, stronger leadership. Less centralized, less formal, weaker leadership.
Power is less evenly distributed. Power more evenly distributed
Rules Committee fairly powerful in controlling time Rules Committee Weak; limited on debate come
and rules of debate (all legislation must go to through through unanimous consent or cloture of filibuster.
the rules committee.) RULES ARE STRICT. Can’t RULES ARE LOOSE. The Senate can filibuster, rarely
filibuster which means talking a bill to death. Cloture issues cloture motions, has mostly open rules which
is always in affect. Can’t add riders which are allows for amendments to be passed on the floor even
amendments that are not germane to the bills if those amendments are riders. Majority leader is not
language. Mostly operates with closed rules. Speaker as powerful as Speaker of the House.
of the house is incredibly important.
Generally Acts Quickly Generally Acts slowly
Worry about their district / state Worry about national / global issues
Members are highly specialized. Committees and Members are generalist. Committees are less
subcommittees become essential in getting things important and subcommittees do not exist because of
done. low numbers.
Emphasizes tax and revenue policy. All financing and Emphasizes foreign policy.
budget bills must start in the House.
Younger Members Older Members
House has the ability to settle ties and lack of majority Offers "advice and consent" on many major
during Presidential elections presidential appointments. Senatorial courtesy.
Initiates impeachment procedures and passes articles Tries impeached officials
Initiates all revenue bills Approves treaties
Two-year terms Six-year terms (1/3 up for reelection every two years)
Comprises 435 members (apportioned by population) Comprises 100 members (2 from each state)
Punishment for Wrongdoing!
Can Congress challenge a fellow member’s election? Yes! The most prevalent way of
punishing a Congressman for wrong doing is to simply vote them out of office.
1900 Brigham H Roberts HR Utah
Roberts was voted out of office for
polygamy. Roberts, a Mormon, had
more than one wife as part of his
religious beliefs. Such practice was
illegal in the US at the time.
1990 Barney Franks HD Mass. – Involvement in falsifying information for a friend that was also a
male escort. He was Censured – Publicly reprimanded. He is still in office today.
Barney Franks HD Massachusetts
In 1990, the House voted to reprimand Frank when it was revealed that
Steve Gobie, a male prostitute whom Rep. Frank had befriended after hiring
him through a personal advertisement, claimed to have conducted a
prostitution ring from Frank's apartment when he was not at home. Frank
had dismissed Gobie earlier that year and reported the incident to the
House Ethics Committee after learning of Gobie's activities. After an
investigation, the House Ethics Committee found no evidence that Frank
had known of or been involved in the alleged illegal activity. The Congress
decided not to censure Congressman Franks. Censure is a public
reprimand that would have force Congressman Frank’s to be present for.
James Anthony Traficant, Jr. HD Ohio
In 2002, Traficant was indicted on federal corruption charges for taking
campaign funds for personal use. Again, he opted to represent
himself, insisting that the trial was part of a vendetta against him
dating to his 1983 trial. During the trial, Traficant frequently argued
with the judge and screamed at prosecutors and witnesses. On April
15, he was convicted of ten felony counts including bribery,
racketeering and tax evasion. Once convicted, he was stripped of his
right to vote in the House under the chamber's rules. The House Ethics
Committee recommended that he be expelled from the House, and on
July 25 the House voted 420-1 to expel him.
On July 18, 1969, Ted Kennedy attended a party on Chappaquiddick Island,
Martha's Vineyard, which was intended to be a reunion of those who had
worked on his brother Robert's 1968 presidential campaign. Kennedy drove
away with party guest Mary Jo Kopechne as a passenger in his mother's
1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88. According to Kennedy, he made a wrong turn
onto an unlit road The car plunged into tide-swept Poucha Pond (at that
location a channel) and came to rest upside down underwater. Kennedy was
able to swim free of the vehicle, but Kopechne was not. Kennedy claims he
tried to swim down to reach her several times, then rested on the bank. He
tried with the help of a cousin to get Mary Jo out of the car. When that
failed, he swam across the sound to his hotel room. He never called the
police. The next morning the police retrieved the car and the body.
Kopechne’s death was rule an accidental drowning. He entered a guilty
plea of leaving the scene of an accident. He never did any jail time.
Congress - How a Bill Becomes Law
SPONSER - House / Senate - Legislation is handed to the clerk of the House or placed
in the hopper.
The bill is assigned a number. (e.g. HR 1 or S 1)
The bill is labeled with the sponsor's name.
The bill is sent to the Government Printing Office (GPO) and copies are made.
Senate bills can be jointly sponsored.
Members can cosponsor the piece of Legislation.
Committee Action - The bill is referred to the appropriate committee by the Speaker of
the House or the presiding officer in the Senate. Bills may be referred to more than
one committee. This is called multiple referral. In the House there is always
sequential referral. This mean any piece of legislation that makes it out of committee
must go to another committee. In the Houses case it is the Rules Committee. The
Speaker of the House may set time limits on committees. Bills are placed on the
calendar of the committee to which they have been assigned. Failure to act on a bill is
equivalent to killing it. It can be done by the committee chairperson who is always a
member of the majority party. It is called pigeonholing. Bills in the House can only
be released from committee without a proper committee vote by a discharge petition
signed by a majority of the House membership (218 members).
1. Comments about the bill's merit are discussed
2. Bill can be assigned to subcommittee by Chairman.
3. Hearings may be held.
4. Subcommittees report their findings to the full committee.
5. A committee will hold a "mark-up" session.
6. If a bill dies, it generally dies here. Very few bills make it out of committee. Most
work in Congress is done here.
Legislation is placed on the Calendar
House: Bills are placed on one of four House Calendars. They are usually placed
on the calendars in the order of which they are reported yet they don't usually
come to floor in this order - some bills never reach the floor at all. The Speaker
of the House and the Majority Leader decide what will reach the floor and when.
(Legislation can also be brought to the floor by a discharge petition.)
Senate: Legislation is placed on the Legislative Calendar. There is also an
Executive calendar to deal with treaties and nominations. Scheduling of
legislation is the job of the Majority Leader. Bills can be brought to the floor
whenever a majority of the Senate chooses.
Congress - How a Bill Becomes Law
House: Debate is limited by the rules formulated in the Rules Committee. Closed
Rule – Sets strict time limit on debate and forbids the introduction of
amendments unless part of the sponsoring committee. Open Rule – Permits
amendments from the floor. The Committee decides how much time to allot to
each person. Amendments must be germane to the subject of a bill - no riders
are allowed. The bill is reported back to the House (to itself) and is voted on. A
quorum call is a vote to make sure that there are enough members present (218)
to have a final vote. The house always has cloture which limits filibuster.
Senate: debate is unlimited unless cloture is invoked. 60 votes are needed to
agree with a cloture motion. Rule 22. Members can speak as long as they want
and amendments need not be germane - riders are often offered. If a bill has a
lot of riders it is called a Christmas Tree. Entire bills can therefore be offered as
amendments to other bills. Unless cloture is invoked, Senators can use a
filibuster to defeat a measure by "talking it to death." The result of a successful
filibuster is generally double tracking. This means the bill is sent back to the
beginning of the calendar. It is a temporary victory for those minority voices that
Had the longest 1 man Strom’s
filibuster in the history of African-
the Senate. He was American
filibustering the Civil Rights Daughter.
Act of 1957.
Vote - If passed by a majority, it is then sent to the other chamber unless that chamber
already has a similar measure under consideration. If either chamber does not pass
the bill then it dies. If the House and Senate pass different bills they are sent to
Conference Committee. Most major legislation goes to a Conference Committee.
1. President Signs bill becomes law
2. Veto Message - allows for a 2/3’s override
3. Pocket Veto – Must but up against an adjournment. If the bill is not sign for 10
days and Congress is adjourned the bill dies. More fatal than a regular veto
because it forces the bill to start over.
Congress – Types of Committees
1. Standing Committees
– Permanent subject matter committee. Congressmen develop expertise in their subject matter
by working on these committees.
– They continue from one congress to the next and they handle the day to day operations and the
implementation of legislation.
– The chairperson will always be a member of the majority party.
– The make up of all committees is roughly the same as the make up of Congress. For Instance if
the Senate has 51% Republicans than the committee would roughly be 51% Republican. The
majority party is guaranteed to be the majority in the Committee.
– Subcommittees in the House of Representatives work underneath the standing committees. In
the Senate subcommittees are less important.
– The most powerful committee is the Ways and Means Committee which has jurisdiction over all
taxation and revenue-raising measures, as well as a number of other programs including Social
Security, unemployment, and Medicare. The other powerful committee is the Appropriations
Committee. It is in charge of setting the specific expenditures of money by the government of
the United States. It is one of the most powerful of the committees, and its members are seen as
influential. Both committees demonstrate Congress’s power to determine fiscal policy.
2. Joint Committees
– HOR and the Senate join together to get things done.
– Usually as a study groups to report findings back to the house like Social Security or taxation.
3. Select Committee - A temporary Committee to deal with temporary Issue. Example is Select Bipartisan
Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina
4. Conference Committee - House and Senate join together to resolve differences of passing a different
version of the same bill in different houses.
House of Representatives Senate Joint
Agriculture Aging (Special) (Conference)
Appropriations Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Economic
Armed Services Appropriations Library (established
Budget Armed Services 1806)
Education and Labor Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Printing
Energy and Commerce Budget Taxation
Financial Services Commerce, Science and
Foreign Affairs Transportation
Homeland Security Energy and Natural Resources
House Administration Ethics (Select)
Intelligence (Permanent Select) Environment and Public Works
Natural Resources Foreign Relations
Oversight and Government Health, Education, Labor, and
Rules Homeland Security and
Science and Technology Governmental Affairs
Small Business Indian Affairs
Standards of Official Conduct Intelligence (Select)
Transportation and Judiciary
Infrastructure Rules and Administration
Veterans' Affairs Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Ways and Means Veterans' Affairs
(click here for complete list with subcommittees)
Source – Wikipedia
AP - Political Parties Affect on Congress
It is when one or both houses are of a
different party than that of the President.
Divided governments are a regularly
occurring phenomenon in midterm
elections. The American public tends to
support the opposing party of the President
in order to assure checks and balances. A
great example of this the Republican
Revolution of 1994 when the GOP one both
houses following Clinton’s election in 1992.
This could create gridlock in that bills
cannot be passed into laws and the
President’s policies do not get passed.
Democratic President Clinton in the above photo is with Republican Newt
Gingrich who was the GOP’s speaker and who led the Republican Revolution.
A unified government is when both houses of
the government are the same as the President.
Even with a unified government, the
President might face gridlock.
1. The Filibuster in the Senate allows for a
minority of Senators to keep a bill from
moving forward. The Senate needs 60 votes
to evoke a cloture motion.
2. The diversity in the parties themselves.
Moderate Democrats are often at odds with
3. The Congress can over-ride a veto but law
requires a 2/3rds vote.
4. In addition, Congress requires a 2/3rds vote
to approve treaties. This goes beyond a
simple majority. President Obama is currently dealing with a Unified Government but that still
does not guarantee that his policy agendas will get passed.
The Benefits of Having a Majority Congress
1. All committee leadership positions will be of the majority party including the powerful Rules Committee
in the House of Representatives.
2. All Congressional leadership positions will be of the majority party including the Speaker of The House of
Representatives and the House Majority Leader.
3. The obvious numerical advantage in committees that allow bills to get out of committee and be reported
4. The obvious numerical advantage in getting legislation passed on the floor.
AP Notes - Expressed Powers Article 1 Section 8 of Congress
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization and Bankruptcy
To coin Money and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting
To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
To promote Copyrights for inventors
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas
To declare War
To raise and support Armies, Navy, and Military in general
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases over Washington DC and other Federal Purchase
IMPLIED POWERS -To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing
Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States.
Powers Denied to Congress – Writ of Habeas Corpus, Bill of Attainder, Ex post Facto.
Congress battles with the President
The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act of 1985 – The act demanded that the Federal budget be balanced every year, and that
Congress and the President do not spend money it does not have. Because of loopholes Congress and the President
continued deficit spending.
The Legislative veto – is a requirement that an executive decision must lie before Congress for a specific period of time
(usually 30 days) before it takes effect. The legislative veto was used some 200 times between 1932 and 1980 until it was
ruled Unconstitutional. Declare unconstitutional by Supreme Court in the case INS v. Chadha (1983). The law once
passed gave Congress oversight in Deportation hearings. The legislative veto was ruled unconstitutional on the grounds
separation of powers.
Impoundment of Funds – The President refusing to use or pay funds that was appropriated by Congress. It is now
unconstitutional. JFK and Truman both used it before it became unconstitutional.
Freedom of Information Act - is the implementation of freedom of information legislation in the United States. It was
signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 4, 1966 (Amended 2002), and went into effect the following year.
This act allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the
U.S. Government. The Act defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure procedures and
grants nine exemptions to the statute.
War Powers Act of 1973 – This act of Congress was meant to limit the President’s Commander in Chief power. This act
said the President must notify Congress within 48 hours troop deployment. It also said that the troops can only be used
for 60 days with a 30 day extension. The conflict is between the Commander in Chief and Congress’s ability to declare
AP Notes – Congressional Agencies
1. General Accounting Office (GAO)
GAO has been referred to as "The Watchdog of Congress"
Founded in 1921
Primarily performs routine financial audits of money spent by the executive department and
i. Example would be the Democrats in Senate threatened Vice President Dick
Cheney with the GAO if he did not turn over his secret meeting transcripts with
Energy Leaders around the US in 2000 including ENRON executives.
Although a Legislative Office, its leader is appointed by the President with Senatorial
Serves for 15 years
The office employs 5,000 workers.
As Comptroller General, Mr. Gene Dodaro is the
nation’s chief accountability officer and head of the
U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).
2. Congressional Research Services (CRS)
founded in 1914
Politically neutral body
Composed of people with high academic training
Will indicate the arguments for or against certain policies
Keeps track of all bills before Congress and logs all the information on to Computer Data
Base that can be accessed by any member of Congress.
Employs 900 Members
3. Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
Founded in 1974
Provides cost analysis on
Finds out future economic trends, cost of programs in terms of inflation.
Used by both sides of the Congressional Debate
Congress has always created an annual Budget. Presidents did not start submitting a
budget until the 20th Century.
Coolidge in 1923 was the first President to ever submit a budget to
Congress. The Budget plans have to be worked out through
compromise. All Budget legislation begins in the House.
The only President that did not submit a budget in the modern era
was President Clinton in 1995 shutting down the government.
AP NOTES - House History: Six Phases
Phase 1 – The Powerful House - 1789 – 1820 - Under Washington’s Administration the
House was more powerful than the Senate, but still answered to Washington’s
Phase 2 – The Divided House – 1820 – 1890 - Jackson (The first modern President)
asserted his power over the House. Sectional tensions leading up to the Civil War
further weakened the House. After the Civil War the House was again divided between
Radical Republicans and Moderates and different opinions on Reconstruction.
Phase 3 – The Speaker Rules - 1890 – 1910 GOP Thomas Reed Speaker of the House
obtained the power to name chairpersons. He himself chaired the Rules Committee
and he decided what business would come up for a vote.
Phase 4 – The House Revolts – 1910 – 1911 Cannon replaces Reed as the Speaker but
the House revolts against him. The Speaker can no longer name committee
chairpersons or serve on the rules committee. Instead these powers were given to
Phase 5 – The Members Rule – 1911 – 1965 – Democrats take control of the House.
However, divisions between Southern and Northern Democrats lead to the Civil Rights
battle. Southern Democratic Chairpersons kept Civil Rights from happening.
Eventually the committees rebelled against the committee chairpersons and took
power away from them.
Phase 6 – The Leadership Returns 1965 – Present – 1995 Newt Gingrich takes power
back from the House and gives it to himself the Speaker. Although voted on by the
Party Caucus he dominated the choices of committee chairpersons. No longer
considered sonority an important factor. Instead considered loyalty.
Newt got into trouble for using tax-exempt funds for political purpose and for having
an affair on his wife during the Clinton impeachment. A more moderate Dennis
Hastert replaced him. Today we have the first female Speaker in Nancy Pelosi.
AP Notes on House and Senate Ethics
Senate / House
1. Gifts – No gifts in money meals of things totaling $100 or more from anyone except
a spouse or a personal friend.
2. Lobbyists – May not pay for gifts of official travel , legal defense fund, or charitable
3. Fees – No fees for lectures or writing except fees up to $2000 to Senator’s charity
4. Outside Income – May not exceed 15% of the Senator or House member salary
5. Ex-Congressmen cannot influence government for an entire year. This is meant to
stop the revolving door. Congressmen can use their political connections after they
retire to influence Congress as a lobbyist
6. Mass Mailing – No Congress may receive more than 50,000 from the Senate to send
out mass mailings to constituents.
Jack A. Abramoff (born February 28, 1958) is a United States political lobbyist,
Republican activist and businessman who is a central figure in a series of high-profile
political scandals. He pled guilty on January 3, 2006 to three criminal felony counts in
federal court related to the defrauding of American Indian tribes and corruption of
public officials. On January 4th, Abramoff pled guilty to two criminal felony counts in
a different federal court related to fraudulent dealings with SunCruz Casinos. On
March 29, 2006, he was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison -- the
minimum allowed per the plea bargain -- and ordered then to pay restitution of more
than $21 million. Bob Ney and Tom Delay were both implicated in the Abramoff
scandal re forced to resign.
1. Members may not be arrested while Congress is in session.
2. Members are immune from court action because of any speech they may make on the floor of Congress. Freedom of
speech is vital to legislation debate.
1. Senators and representatives salaries of 133, 600 per year. Congressional leaders are paid an additional stipend.
Remember the 27 Amendment which requires members of Congress to win re-election in order to get their raise.
Congress receives a wide range of fringe benefits, from free parking, low cost medical benefits, tax deductions for
second residences in DC, generous pension packages, and free printing and distribution of speeches, newsletters, and
The Oversight Function
The oversight function is when a member of Congress checks to see if the executive branch is working efficiently and
according to the law. It is NOT their job to run a department of the executive branch.
Congress controls bureaucracy by
1. Senate Confirmation of bureaucratic heads
2. Authorization of the bureaucratic agencies budget. This is generally based on the previous year’s budget. This is
done by the appropriations and authorization committees in Congress.
3. Authorization of the bureaucratic agency’s program.
4. Investigation of the agency’s operation.
A congressional caucus is a group of members of Congress sharing specific interest such as the Black Caucus,
Hispanic Caucus, the Congresswomen Caucus, and the Sunbelt Caucus. The proliferation of caucuses, about 130 as of
late, give Congress an informal, yet strong say in the policy agenda and it allows them to exert influence policymaking.
Impeachment is to bring charges of high crimes and misdemeanors against political officials such as Presidents,
Congressmen, and Federal Judges.
The House issues impeachment charges that are like an indictment based on a simple majority.
The Senate acts as a jury and it takes a 2/3 vote to convict
In cases of Presidential impeachment the Chief Justice serves as the judge.
Laws and Resolutions
Simple Resolutions are used to express nonbinding positions of the Senate or House to deal with Senate’s internal
affairs, such as the creation of special committees. They do not require action of the other chamber or Presidential
Joint Resolutions are a legislative measure which requires approval by the Senate and the House and is presented to the
President for their approval, in exactly the same fashion as a bill and has the force of law. Joint resolutions are generally
used to authorize small appropriations, create commissions, and or extend legislation already drafted. Joint resolutions
are also used by Congress to propose Amendments to the Constitution.
Concurrent Resolutions are a legislative measure passed by both the Senate and House but they do not need
Presidential approval and do not have the force of law.
Public Bill is a bill which proposes a law of general application throughout the jurisdiction in which it is proposed and
which if enacted will hence become a public law or public act.
Private Bill is an act considered or acted upon by a legislature that helps a single individual, group of individuals, or a
corporate entity. Private bills are rare today.
Special Sessions of Congress
Special Sessions of Congress are mandated by the Constitution and they allow Congress to be called back in session
during an adjournment to deal with a pressing issue. Today, special sessions are rare since Congress is almost always
AP Notes - Monetary and Fiscal / Budgetary Policy
Monetary Policy - Monetary policy is the process by which the government, central bank, or monetary
authority of a country controls the supply of money, availability of money, and the cost of money or rate of
interest, in order to attain a set of objectives oriented towards the growth and stability of the economy.
1. Monetary policy in the United States is controlled by the Federal Reserved Board. This is independent
agency in the executive branch. The Federal Reserve board chairman serves for a fixed term of 14
Why is the Federal Reserve Board independent?
1. It is important to create a federal reserve that is free from direct political pressure. The Federal
Reserve board is supposed to make a decision on what is best for the economy and not a political
party or ideology.
2. It is important to create a federal reserve that is free from corporate influence. The Federal
Reserve cannot be lobbied by Corporate PAC’s because this could lead to corruption. The Federal
Reserve needs to make a decision based on what is best for the economy, not some corporate client.
Fiscal Policy - Fiscal policy, taking place within the scope of budgetary policy, refers to government policy
that attempts to influence the direction of the economy through changes in government taxes, or through
some spending allowances.
Fiscal Policy deals with the budgetary process in Congress. Since Congress has the expressed
power of the purse, they have always handled the annual budget. Every Budget bill must start
in the House of Representatives and then be passed through the Senate. Finally, the budget
must be signed by the President.
The modern Presidents have submitted their own budget. The first time this was done was by
President Calvin Coolidge in the 1920’s. Every President since then has submitted their own
budget to the House of Representatives to be worked out with the Congressional budget.
The President uses the Office of Management and Budget to help them create the annual budget
and handle fiscal policy.
Congressional Budget Office is the office that Congress uses to help them develop the budget.
The committees that are involved in the budget are the House Ways and Means Committee
which handles taxing policy of the budget. The Authorization Committee handles what
programs Congress wants to fund. The Appropriations Committee in both houses then decide
how much money to spend for those programs that has been authorized.
What are obstacles to the President making fiscal policy?
1. Mandatory spending such as entitlement programs. So much of the budget is earmarked for welfare,
social security, and healthcare like Medicaid and Medicare that there is no money left for the President
to accomplish his public policy goals. When writing about mandatory spending, you should mention
entitlement programs and the fact the mandatory spending is not part of the annual budget decisions.
2. Limited discretionary spending is spending that is part of the annual budgetary decisions. It is
composed of defense spending along with budgets for cabinet and executive agencies.
3. Policy Fragmentation – This is where many pieces of legislation deal with parts of policy problems but
never deal with the entire problem. Senator Obama wants to work with Congress to create a fiscal
policy that would provide universal health care but many congressional committees are involved in
this process such as; the Food and Drug Administration, Commerce Department, Department of Health
and Human Services, and the Department of Labor. Because so many groups get involved there is
little policy coordination.
Congress makes the budget – The President signs it into law!
Budget Surplus – This means that the government takes in more money than it spends.
Budget Deficit – This means that the government spends more than it takes in.