AP Gov Congress

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					                                        AP Gov. Congress
                                        Reading Questions

1. Summarize the differences between Congress and a parliament.
2. Why is Congress a decentralized institution and why is Congress inevitably unpopular
with voters.
3. Read through the six phases of the House of Representatives so that you are clear
about the rules changes and the balance of power between the Speaker and committee
chairmen. Briefly summarize phases four-six. (It is not important for you to learn the
name of individual Speakers except for Newt Gingrich – unless you want to be a history
major or quiz bowl whiz.)
4. How has the history and structure of the Senate meant that it would be different from
the House of Representatives?
5. What were the main issues in the development of the Senate and how were these issues
settled? Make sure that you understand what these terms refer to: filibuster, cloture, Rule
6. Summarize the points that Edmund Burke made in his speech to the Bristol Electors
about the responsibilities of a representative to his constituents.
7. Read the article by David Mahyew in the Readings book and make a list of what
congressmen do to achieve reelection
8. Briefly summarize the trends in the sex and race of members of Congress.
9. What were the reasons why there were more new members to the House in the early
10. Why have more congressional districts become safer for incumbent reelection?
11. What are the possible explanations for why the Democrats dominated Congress from
12. Why has Congress become more ideologically partisan since the 1980s?
13. Define malapportionment, gerrymandering, majority-minority districts.
14. How have districts been designed to increase minority representation and what has
the Supreme Court ruled about this? What is the difference between descriptive and
substantive representation?
15. What is the sophomore surge? Why does it happen? What effects does it have?
16. Summarize the three theories of how members of Congress behave.
17. Why has civility decreased among legislators?
18. Read the article by David Price in the Readings Book. What are the points he makes
about what a responsible legislator should do and what the results are of politicians who
run against Congress.
19. What are the principal jobs and responsibilities in the party leadership in the Senate?
20. What are the powers of the Speaker of the House? How did Newt Gingrich change
the structure of the House?
21. Why are the members of each party so polarized today?
22. What are caucuses and why are they important?
23. Define the four different types of committees.
24. How has the committee structure changed in the past 30 years? What has been the
effect of these changes and how does having a large staff create a demand for more staff?
25. What do the GAO, and CBO do?
26. You must know 16 terms in bold on pages 313 – 317. Find some way to memorize
them: choose what works for you – flashcards, notes, sleeping on them. When you feel
that you know them, take the first three matching quizzes on my website until you get
100%. Either get a parent to sign that you have done so or print out the pages for each as
27. How can a filibuster be broken? What do the changes for breaking a filibuster mean
for trying to pass a bill in the Senate.
28. Think about it and give your opinion as to the impact the differences between the
House and Senate have on policy-making. You must know the chart on p. 319
summarizing the differences between the House and Senate. Figure out a way to learn it.
29. Using the two articles in the Readings Book by David W. Brady and Craig Volden
and Barbara Sinclair, make a list of reasons why Congress is sometimes not able to
accomplish much
30. Make a list of the different powers that the Constitution gives to either the House or
Senate. This is a review question and you should be able to do it off the top of your
head. Then go check yourself by looking
at the Constitution. (It’s in an appendix in the back of the book or you have your own
copy.) Read through Article I, Sections 1, 3, and 7 and Article II, Section 2. Add in
anything you may have forgotten.
31. What are the arguments for and against term limits?
32. How have the Congressmen’s powers and perks been reduced?
33. In general, what type of rules are there to make sure our Congress members are
34. After reading the articles by Paul Starobin, John Ellwood and Eric Patashik, and
Brian Riedl, make a list of the arguments for and against pork. Include arguments from
the textbook on p. 323-324.

                             Article on Congress Assignment

    Due Date – by Thursday, January 22, but feel quite free to turn it in earlier.

Find one article or editorial on Congress from the past three months. The article must
relate to themes that we have studied in class or in the book. Print out or cut out the
1. First, write up a short summary of the main points in the article.
 2. Then write up how what the article says supports or contradicts what we have been
studying. This is the most important part of your write-up, so be sure to pick an article
that lends itself to this assignment. Also, make sure that you pick an article of sufficient
length to have substance in it. My secret, nefarious goal is for you to develop your own
current example of some aspect of political theory and practice that we’re studying. You
will be handing this in for a grade.
Here is an easy way to find an article.

1. Go to News Google

2. Type in Congress plus one of the key terms from your study guide about something
that you’re interested in such as redistricting, cloture, filibuster, pork, gerrymander,
congressional courtesy, Speaker of the House, etc. Remember to put quotation marks
around phrases or your search will turn up anything that has speaker, of, house in the
same article. You could also put in the names of prominent members of Congress. Any
article about Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, for example, is probably about something that
relates to this course.

3. Pick one of the choices that looks substantial (as in having substance and sufficient
length to cover material and get you an excellent grade.)

4. Double check that the article refers to the U.S. Congress and not a state legislature. If
you have any doubt, ask me.

5. You’re ready to write up the assignment.