The Legislative Branch (Congress) by 4pHbs4


									The Legislative Branch
       The National Legislature
• The Legislative Branch – or Congress – is made
  of two bodies:

• House of Representatives and Senate.

• This means that Congress is bicameral – “bi”
  means two, and “cameral” means chamber.
       The National Legislature
• Why did the founding fathers develop two

• One reason was because it is what they were
  used to from the British government.

• Second reason is they wanted as many
  “checks and balances” as possible.
        The National Legislature
• However, the third and most important reason
  was because it served as a compromise during
  the Constitutional Convention.

• Remember – there was an argument as to how
  the states should be represented as votes.

• Big states said it should be based on population –
  little states said it should be equal.
       The National Legislature
• The Great Compromise created two houses in
  Congress – HOR and Senate.

• House of Representatives gets reps based on
  state population.

• Senate gets two reps from each state
  regardless of population.
The National Legislature
       The National Legislature
• Total – there are 435 members of the House
  of Representatives.

• Total – there are 100 (50 states X 2 Senators
  from each state) members of the Senate.

• How many total members of Congress are
       The National Legislature
• Congress meets for two-year terms – 1st
  Congress met on March 4, 1789.

• The 111th Congress began on January 3, 2009
  and end on January 3, 2011.

• The 112th Congress will meet on January 3,
  2011, and end on January 3, 2013.
       The National Legislature
• In each two-year term there are two sessions
  – one session per year.

• When Congress begins a session it is called
  “convenes”, and it is called “adjourn” when it

• There are numerous “recess” periods in a
  session as well.
        The National Legislature
• The President of the United States may call a
  special session during an emergency or a critical
  issue comes up.

• This has happened 27 times in our nations’

• In 1933 President Roosevelt called an emergency
  session to deal with Great Depression.
        The National Legislature
• President Roosevelt also called an emergency
  session in 1939.

• The issue then was outbreak of war in Europe –
  the Nazis – and U.S. policy to sell weapons to

• Many times the President “threatens” a special
  session to force Congress to compromise on an
• What was the most important reason why the
  founding fathers decided on a bicameral

• What is the difference between a term and a
  session of Congress?

• How is a Congressional recess different from
  an adjournment?
       House of Representatives
• Remember there are 435 members – with the
  state’s population determining how many
  members per state.

• Every state must have at least on seat – or

• Every 10 years, the HOR is reapportioned to
  recalculate how many members per state – never
  goes above 435 total though.
      House of Representatives
• During the 1st Congress in 1789 there were 65
  members in the House.

• Every member in the House serves two-year

• This makes each member highly accountable
  for their actions and votes – always an
  election year upcoming.
       House of Representatives
• There are no limits on how many times a member
  can be elected.

• The election is always held on the Tuesday
  following the first Monday in November on even
  numbered years.

• Presidents serve four-year terms, so many times
  there are what is called “off-year” elections.
       House of Representatives
• An “off-year” election is when the Presidency
  is not up for election, but members of the
  House are.

• Usually, the political party of the President
  loses members in an off-year election.

• Each member in the House represents their
  district from their state.
       House of Representatives
• Because there are 435 members in the House,
  that means there are 435 districts in the U.S.

• Districts are created very carefully – they have
  boundaries and borders.

• Districts have to be near equal in total
       House of Representatives
• Districts also have to be one piece – not
  bunches of pieces.

• Every 10 years districts boundaries are re-

• These rules lead to all different types of
  district shapes and sizes.
       House of Representatives
• Re-drawing districts also brings “gerrymandering”
  into play.

• Gerrymandering is named after former
  Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry in 1812.

• Political parties in control of the state
  governments “gerrymander” district boundaries.
       House of Representatives
• They re-form the districts with a strategy in
  mind to try to keep their members in office.

• Gerrymandering is the reason why we see
  REALLY strange district shapes.

• Arizona’s 2nd district is a great example of
      House of Representatives
• Anyone can become a House of
  Representatives member – you need to meet
  these simple requirements:
  –Minimum age of 25 years.
  –Minimum 7 years as U.S. Citizen.
  –Live in the state in which you
      House of Representatives
• However, other members of the House can
  reject you, punish you, or expel you based on
  a majority vote.

• Brigham H. Roberts from Utah was rejected in
  1900 for being a polygamist.

• In 200 years, five members have been
       House of Representatives
• It is extremely expensive to run a campaign in
  order to become a member of the House.

• The average cost of a campaign is $1 million.

• Also, once you are in, it is very hard to lose an
  election – 90% of the incumbents – or current
  members – lose an election.
• What are the qualifications to become a
  member of the House of Representatives –
  could you be a member for Missouri? How
  about Mr. Pagel? Why or why not?

• Why do politicians gerrymander districts?

• How long do members of the House serve?
                The Senate
• There are 100 total members of the Senate –
  50 states X 2 per state = 100.

• The Senate is viewed as more esteemed and
  more important than the House.

• Before 1913, Senators were chosen by the
  state governments – since 1913 they are
  voted in by the citizens.
                The Senate
• Senators are elected during the same
  elections as House members in November.

• Each state can have only one Senate seat up
  for election at a time.

• This means that only 1/3 of the Senate is up
  for election at once.
                 The Senate
• Senators serve 6-year terms and there is no
  limit on how many times they can be elected.

• For example, Robert Byrd, a Democrat from
  West Virginia has served since 1958.

• Notice that their terms are longer (6 to 2
  years) then the House members.
                 The Senate
• The Senate was set up this way to counter the
  knee-jerk reactions of the House.

• House members are always worried about the
  next election – their votes can be “moody”.

• Senators have a “cushion” of 6 years and are
  able to look at the “bigger picture” of an issue.
                The Senate
• Senators are more well-known than House

• Many Presidents have been former Senators –
  like Obama.

• The qualifications to become a Senator are
  also different.
                  The Senate
• Senators must be:

• 30 years old.

• A U.S. Citizen for at least 9-years.

• Live in the state in which they serve.
                 The Senate
• Just like the House, it is very expensive to run
  a campaign to become a Senator – millions of

• Incumbents win most elections – part of this is
  credited to name recognition.

• Also, just like the House, an elected Senator
  can be rejected by 2/3 majority vote.
                The Senate
• Senators can also be expelled by 2/3 majority
  vote for breaking rules.

• Since 1797, 15 Senators have been expelled –
  14 of these came during the Civil War from
  southern Senators.

• In 1995, Bob Packwood, Republican from
  Oregon resigned because he would have been
• How are the qualifications for a Senator
  different from a House of Representatives

• How much of the Senate is up for election at
  one time?

• Why do you think Senators are considered
  more prestigious then House members?
         Members of Congress
• Who are the members of Congress – where do
  they come from, and what are they like?

• The average members is male, white and in his

• Of the 535 members, 95 are women, 42
  African-American, 25 Spanish, 7 Asian.
         Members of Congress
• 1/3 of the House members are lawyers, ½ of
  the Senate members are lawyers.

• Almost all 535 members have advanced
  degrees – meaning higher then a bachelors.

• Several members are millionaires, and 1/3 of
  Senators were once House members.
         Members of Congress
• In other words, the Legislative Branch
  (Congress) is not an accurate cross section of
  the American population.

• Instead they represent the upper-middle class

• Some people feel this makes Congress “out of
  touch” with “normal” Americans.
         Members of Congress
• Senators and House members both receive
  $174,000 salary per year.

• However, there are also other fringe benefits
  they receive as well.

• They receive breaks on taxes because they are
  forced to own two homes.
         Members of Congress
• They also receive travel allowances – or
  money to travel with.

• Congressional members also receive full
  medical benefits for themselves and their
  families at reduced prices.

• When they retire, they also receive a pension
  – or yearly income until they die.
         Members of Congress
• Other benefits include “operating costs” to
  hire workers to run their offices.

• They receive a franking privilege – allowed to
  use the postal service free of charge.

• They also receive free parking on Capitol Hill
  and free airport parking.
         Members of Congress
• But, all of these benefits come with a heavy
  burden on representing thousands of people.

• Members are required to use their votes to
  make decisions for our country.

• In this role, members choose their vote in a
  variety of ways.
         Members of Congress
• Some members choose to vote as delegates –
  based on what they believe their people want.

• Some members choose to vote as trustees –
  or base their decisions on their own morals
  and values.

• Some members choose their vote as partisans
  – or base their choice on what the rest of their
  party does.
• Why do some Americans feel Congressional
  members are “out of touch” with “normal”

• List and explain at least three benefits that
  Congressional members receive.

• What is the best role for a Congressional
  member – delegate, trustee, or partisan?
         Congressional Powers
• Review – Congress has three kinds of power:
  Expressed, implied and inherent.

• Expressed power is written word for word in

• Implied power is hinted at from expressed
         Congressional Powers
• Inherent power is power our country has
  because it is a sovereign nation.

• There are 27 expressed powers given to
  Congress in the Constitution.

• Congress has the power to regulate – or
  control – Commerce in America.
         Congressional Powers
• Commerce is defined as the buying and selling
  of goods or services.

• Congress also has the expressed power to tax
  in order to charge money on people or
  property to raise money.

• Taxes are also used to protect American
  industry, and our health.
         Congressional Powers
• Our government usually spends more money
  then it takes in which leads to defecit

• Because of this, Congress also has expressed
  power to borrow money.

• Borrowing money leads to an increased
  national debt.
         Congressional Powers
• Congress has the expressed power to print
  money and control currency.

• Congress also is given the expressed power to
  regulate bankruptcy for businesses or

• Congress is given expressed power to declare
  war on other foreign powers.
         Congressional Powers
• Congress has the power to regulate copyrights
  – which gives a person protection over their
  creative work.

• Congress has the power of eminent domain –
  to take private property for public use.

• Congress can impeach the President of the
  United States.
         Congressional Powers
• The House impeaches – which means to bring
  charges against the President.

• The House only needs a majority vote to
  impeach – and then it goes to the Senate for

• To convict the President and “kick him out” –
  the Senate needs a 2/3 vote.
         Congressional Powers
• No President has ever been convicted – but
  Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were

• Richard Nixon may have been convicted, but
  resigned before impeachment vote took place.

• The Senate also has power to ratify treaties,
  and approve President appointments.
         Congressional Powers
• However, just because a power is not
  expressed in the Constitution, does not mean
  that Congress cannot obtain it.

• Remember the Elastic Clause – which is in the
  Constitution and gives Congress the power to
  expand their powers to fit any situation.

• The Elastic Clause is the basis for implied
• How can you tell if a Congressional power is

• What happens after the President is
  impeached by the House of Representatives?

• What clause in the Constitution sets the basis
  for implied Congressional powers?
  How A Bill Becomes Law - House
• To become a law, a proposed bill usually starts
  in the House of Representatives.

• A bill can be introduced in a variety of ways –
  citizens demands, President recommendation,
  Congressional idea.

• Each proposed bill is turned into the clerk and
  given a title and a number.
  How A Bill Becomes Law - House
• For example, “H.R. 3,410: A bill to provide…”

• After it is given a number and a title, the bill is
  entered into the House Journal and the
  Congressional Record.

• The Speaker of the House reads the bill and
  refers it to the correct standing committee.
  How A Bill Becomes Law - House
• Every member in Congress serves in a
  committee – a small group that is responsible
  for certain functions of our country.

• The standing committee’s chairman – or
  leader – refers the bill to a subcommittee.

• That subcommittee researches the bill to
  determine its worth.
  How A Bill Becomes Law - House
• After the subcommittee is done researching
  the bill they turn in their information to the
  standing committee.

• The chairman then reports the bill back to the
  House in one of 5 ways.

• 1. Reports the bill favorably – meaning he
  recommends it.
  How A Bill Becomes Law - House
• 2. Does not report the bill – called
  pigeonholing – most bills die this way.

• 3. Report the bill in an amended form – just
  changing parts of it.

• 4. Report the bill unfavorably – recommends
  it not be approved.
  How A Bill Becomes Law - House
• 5. Reports a committee bill – a completely
  new version of the bill.

• After the bill is reported the House Rules
  Committee schedules time for debate on the

• Bill is read aloud for the entire House and
  each section can be debated.
  How A Bill Becomes Law - House
• Each member is given 5 minutes to debate
  parts of the bill – and changes are voted on.

• After the bill receives floor time it is engrossed
  – or printed up one final time and read aloud

• The bill is then voted on for the final time – if
  2/3 vote for it then it is approved.
  How A Bill Becomes Law - House
• An approved bill is signed by the Speaker of
  the House and it is hand carried to the Senate
  side of the Capitol Building and placed on the
  President of the Senate’s desk.

• Remember – once a bill passes in the House it
  still must receive 2/3 approval in the Senate.
• Explain how important standing committees
  are to the law making process in our

• What happens to most bills that our proposed
  in the House of Representatives? Use the
  correct term.
 How A Bill Becomes Law - Senate
• All approved bills from the House of
  Representatives must also be approved in the

• The rules for debating a bill in the Senate are
  much different than the House.

• Remember the Senate is considered more
  prestigious then the House.
 How A Bill Becomes Law - Senate
• Senators are allowed to debate a bill on the
  floor for as long as they want.

• There are very few rules regulating Senator
  debate methods.

• For instance, Senators have used filibusters in
  the past – tactic to talk a bill to death.
 How A Bill Becomes Law - Senate
• In 1935 Huey Long, Democrat from Louisiana
  talked for 15 hours to stall from being

• There is no regulation on what you talk about
  in the Senate either.

• Long read the Washington D.C. phone book
  and his favorite recipes.
 How A Bill Becomes Law - Senate
• Strom Thurmond, Republican from South
  Carolina talked for 24 hours trying to block a
  Civil Rights law.

• Filibusters go on today – but usually they are
  team efforts.

• There are some rules to help prevent
 How A Bill Becomes Law - Senate
• Senators must stand the whole time they are
  speaking – no sitting, no leaning.

• Also the Cloture Rule – if 60 Senators vote
  “yes” to it a Senator can only have 30 hours to

• The Senate must approve the identical version
  of the bill that the House apporved.
 How A Bill Becomes Law - Senate
• If the Senate wants changes made the bill
  must be referred to a conference committee.

• Conference committee is made up of House
  and Senate members and their job is to create
  a compromised version of the bill.

• The compromised version must be passed by
  both House and Senate.
 How A Bill Becomes Law - Senate
• If a bill survives and is approved by 2/3 House
  and Senate then it is sent to President for

• President can do four things with the bill.

• 1. Signs it – bill officially becomes a law.
 How A Bill Becomes Law - Senate
• 2. Vetoes the bill – rejects it and Congress can
  override with 2/3 vote in House and Senate.

• 3. Not sign it – after 10 days the bill becomes
  a law.

• 4. Pocket Veto – not sign it, and if Congress
  adjourns before 10 days is up then the bill
• What is the purpose of a conference

• What is the purpose of a filibuster?

• What are the four actions the President can
  take with an approved bill from Congress?

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