Congress

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					Congress
 Role—Lawmakers
The Constitution of the United States

              Article I, Section I
“All legislative powers herein granted
  shall be vested in a congress of the
  Unites States, which shall consist of a
  Senate and a House of
  Representatives.”
Congress

    Most basic
    governmental
    function:



    translate public
    will into public
    policy in the form
    of a law.
     Basic Info for BOTH houses

• U.S. Legislative body is bicameral vs.
  unicameral
• Concern is representation via population as
  in House, but not Senate.
• Term—is two years, “noon on Jan. 3rd” of
  every odd numbered year.
• Sessions—there are 2 for each term, one
  year each.
• Congress adjourns each session as they see
  fit. Prior to WWII, most session were 4-5
  months. Now, most of year.
• One House cannot adjourn without consent
  of other.
          Size and Terms of HOUSE


• Today, 435 seats. Number can change, not in Constitution.
  New law, from 1929 allowed census bureau to decide seats for
  each state and within 60 days if neither house rejects the plan,
  it become effective.
• Seats are apportioned by population. Each state gets a
  minimum of one.
• D.C., Guam, Virgin Islands, American Somoa, and Puerto Rico
  have a delegate but not a member of the House.
• Terms are for two years—election are always just around the
  corner to maintain focus on constituents back home.
• Reapportionment is directed by Constitution to redistribute
  seats every 10 years based on the census.
• Single-member districts—voters in each district elect one of
  the State’s representatives. At-large voting was outlawed in
  1872.
Wesberry v. Sanders, 1964

• Outlawed Gerrymandering, districts
  that have been drawn to the
  advantage of the political party or
  faction that controls the government.

• The court ruled that, “as nearly as
  practicable one man’s vote in a
  congressional election is to be worth as
  much as another’s.”
Gerrymandering
            Qualifications

• 25 yrs. Old, citizen for seven years,
  resident of U.S.
• Custom, not in Constitution, requires a
  representative live in district he/ she
  represents.
      Size and Term of SENATE

• Many Representatives become Senators but rarely
  vice versa.
• Senators serve terms of six years. As with the
  House, can be re-elected any number of times.
• 1/3 expire every two years (33 or 34). Therefore
  called a continuous body.
• Six years intended to make Senators less subject to
  pressures of public opinion and special interest
  groups (lobbyists). Ideally focused on big picture
  than on small locality.
• Qualifications—30 yrs. Old, citizen for nine years,
  and inhabitant of state in which elected.
            Duties of Congress
                 For $169,500/ yr.




1. Legislators—law makers
2. Committee members
3. Representatives of their constituents
4. Servants of their constituents!! Help them
   with problems in their state.
5. Politicians
6. Screen proposed bills to see if they should
   make them to the floor
7. Oversight function of various agencies in
   executive branch
        Four Voting Options

• Trustee—vote independently based on
  conscience
• Delegates—ignore own views for those
  of constituents
• Partisans—vote based on party
  (majority influenced by this)
• Politicos—Balance all of the above with
  the particular issues of the moment
Partisan
          Congressional Powers

• By specific design, the powers of Congress are
  limited, unless specifically stated in the Constitution
  (expressed powers), reasonably deducted from the
  Constitution (implied powers), or by being a part of
  a Federal Government (inherent powers).

• History has shown that the U.S. has been very
  liberal in its interpretation of the Constitution.
  Based on the changing demands of our society;
  war, economic crisis, changes in transportation,
  communication, and technology, have forced the
  government to play a larger role than originally
  designed.
               Expressed Powers
• Power to Tax                       • Foreign Relations Powers
•    Direct Tax                          • Derived from 2 sources– 1)
       • Paid by person whom it is         war powers & regulation of
         imposed on– income tax            foreign commerce. 2) U.S.
•      Indirect Tax                        as sovereign state gives
       • First paid by one person          congress inherent powers to
         but passed onto another—          act on matters of national
         cigarette tax/ gas tax            security.
• Power to Borrow                    •   War Powers
• Commerce Power                     •   Naturalization
    • Regulate interstate $          •   Postal Power
      foreign trade
                                     •   Copyright and Patents
• Currency Power
                                     •   Weights and Measures
        Legal tender
                                     •   Power over Territories
• Bankruptcy
                                     •   Eminent Domain
                                     •   Judicial Powers
            Implied powers

• Necessary and Proper Clause (“elastic”)
      Necessary & Proper Clause

                   Examples:
The Power to Tax is expressed– the power to
  punish for tax evasion is implied (elastic)

The Power to Raise Armies and Navies= the
  power to draft (elastic)

The Commerce Power= the power to fix
  minimum wages & maximum work hours
  (elastic)
             Non-legislative Powers


• Constitutional Amendments
   • 2/3 vote in each house (happened 33 times)
• Electoral Duties
   • House elects president when 270 is not reached in electoral
     college/ Senate then chooses V.P.
• Impeachment
   • House brings charges (impeach)--majority
   • Senate judges the accused– 2/3 for guilty
      • If President on trial, Chief Justice of Supreme Court must
        preside
• Executive Powers
   • Majority approval of appointments/ 2/3 approval of those
     present for treaties
• Investigatory Power
   • Ex. MLB steroid use
   • Ex. Federal Attorney dismissals by A.G. Gonzales
Senate Investigation
The Need for Committees

• 35, 000 people work for legislative branch
• Amount of work is so great, a division of
  labor is necessary.
Committees
•   Committees
•   House committees have between 10 and 62 members each.
•   Senate has 9 to 28 members each.
•   When a bill is introduces, Speaker or president of Senate refer bill to appropriate standing
    committee.
•   Majority party always holds a majority of seats on each committee, while minority party is
    well represented.

•   Standing committees—all similar bills are sent here.

•   Select committees—special group set up for specific purpose and usually a limited time.

•   Joint committees—are composed from members of both houses.

•   Conference committees—temporary joint body, created to produce a compromised bill
    that is agreeable to both houses. Reason: before a bill can be sent to President, must be
    passed in identical form by each house.        (Rarely does either house reject the work
    of a conference committee. 2 reasons; membership of conference committees is typically
    powerful, report usually comes as congress in a rush to adjourn.)

•   Subcommittees—division of existing committees formed to address specific issues. 140
         in House, 90 in Senate.
     Current Committees: Examples

 Standing Committee                     Special Committee
Appropriations                      Indian Affairs
Armed Services                      Select Committee on Ethics
Banking, Housing, Urban             Select Committee on Intelligence
   Development                      Select Committee on Aging
Transportation
Energy & Natural Resources          Additional ones added or removed
Finance                               as needed
Foreign Relations
Homeland Security & Gov’t Affairs        Joint Committees
Judiciary                           Joint Committee on Taxation
Veterans Affairs                    Joint Economic Committee

And Many More…                      Additional ones added or removed
                                      as needed
House of Representatives


• Not a continuous body; causes slow
  start to new sessions.
Speaker of the House
 The Speaker is by far most important and influential member of HOR.

 Speaker is member of majority party in congress and chosen by
 members of that party.

 Two duties: preside and keep order.

 No member may speak until recognized by the speaker.

 Speaker names members of committees.

 Speaker may debate or vote, but must name Speaker pro tempore.

 Speaker usually doe NOT vote, but must vote to break a tie.

 Because a tie vote defeats a question, speaker can vote to cause a
 tie.
          Other House Leaders

• Floor Leaders: There is a Minority and
  Majority Floor Leader.
  • Next to the Speaker, the most important officer
  • They are legislative strategists attempting to get
    their parties values passed through legislation
• The Whip: Again both Maj. & Min.
  • Job is to assist floor leaders and influence party
    members on a particular vote. Then pass the
    numbers of “yea” votes on the floor leader before
    a vote so they can be prepared for the outcome
Senate


• A continuous body, allows for smooth
  start to new sessions.
President of the Senate
 President of the Senate is not a member of the Senate.

 V.P. of U.S., much less powerful than Speaker position in the
 House.

 Not necessarily member of majority party in Senate.

 V.P. CANNOT speak or debate.

 V.P. may ONLY vote to break a tie, not a cause a tie.

 President pro tempore acts in the V.P.’s absence and is
 elected by the Senate itself and always a leading member of
 the majority party.
Facts about Bills


•   As many as 10,000 bills proposed between both houses in a term. Less than
    10 % become law.

•         Where do they start?
•         Most bills originate somewhere in the executive branch.
•         Ideas for bills can come from private citizens.
•         Many originate in standing committees.

•         How are they introduced?
•         Only members introduce bills.
•         According to Constitution, “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in
    the   House…”

•         Two types of Bills:
•         Public Bills: measures applying to the nation as a whole.
•         Private Bills: measures that apply to certain persons or places, not the
    nation.
Passing a Bill in the House
Bill Becomes a Law in the House
•   Most bills die in committee; they are pigeonholed.
•          An important or controversial bill can involve holding public hearings that
    question interested persons, special interest groups, and             government officials
    who testify at an informational gathering. If necessary, a committee can force a person
    to testify under threat of imprisonment.
•
•          When a subcommittee has completed its research, the measure goes to
           full committee. The committee chooses one of the following courses of action:
•   Report the bill favorably with a “do pass” recommendation.
•   Refuse to report the bill—pigeonhole it.
•   Report the bill in amended form.
•   Report the bill with an unfavorable recommendation—rare.
•   Report a committee bill—new bill, substituted for original bill.
•   Debate in House is limited because of size. No member can hold floor for more than
    one hour without unanimous consent. Speaker can force a member who strays from
    subject to give up floor.
•   Voting in House
•   A bill may be voted on several times. Each amendment is voted on separately.
•   After approval the speaker signs it and a page (legislative aide) takes it to the Senate
    and places it on the Senate president’s desk.
Passing a Bill in the Senate
Bill Becomes a Law in the Senate

• Also committee work.

• Debate is unrestrained in Senate. Members may speak as
  long as they please and do NOT have to limit it to subject of
  bill. Intention is to encourage fullest possible discussion of
  matters on the floor.

• Filibuster is a stalling tactic.
        Strom Thurmond (R., S.C.) held floor for 24 hrs. and 18
        minutes in an unsuccessful, one man effort to prevent the
  Civil       Rights Act of 1957.

• Cloture Rule-- Senate check on the filibuster. Limits debate,
  but difficult to enact. Many senators hesitate to support a
  motion for cloture because 1) dedicated to tradition of free
  debate, 2) frequent use of cloture will undermine filibuster
  they may one day want to use.
Filibuster
How a Bill Becomes a Law
Veto Powers
Presidents Five possible Actions to a
passed congressional bill:

•   Sign the bill and become law.
•   Veto—return it to house it originated in and 2/3 of
    each house can vote it in.
•   Does not act on it for 10 days—becomes law.
•   Pocket veto—congress adjourns session within ten
    days of submitting bill to President, before
    President acts on it, bill dies.
•   “Line-item veto”—can reject one or more money
    items in Appropriations bills.
Major issue: Ethics in Public Policy
Interest Groups: Influencing
Legislation

• All interest groups share a desire to affect government policy
  to benefit themselves or their cause. It could be a policy that
  exclusively benefits group members or one segment of society
  (e.g., government subsidies for farmers) or a policy that
  advances a broader public purpose (e.g., improving air
  quality). Interest groups are a natural outgrowth of the
  communities of interests that exist in all societies, from the
  narrowest groups such as the Japan Eraser Manufacturers
  Association to broader groups such as the ACLU to very broad
  organizations such as the military in authoritarian countries.
  Interest groups exist at all levels of government—national,
  state, provincial, and local—and increasingly they have
  occupied an important role in international affairs.–
  Encyclopedia Britannica

				
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posted:12/18/2012
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