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C H A P T E R 11 Congress Functions of Congress 1. Representation 2. Law making 3. Consensus building 4. Overseeing the bureaucracy 5. Policy clarification 6. Confirming by a majority vote presidential appointees (for the Senate) 7. Investigating the operation of government Two Houses of Congress The Constitution creates a bicameral legislature for three reasons: Historical: The British Parliament consisted of two houses since the 1300s, and many colonial assemblies were similar in form. Practical: A bicameral legislature was necessary to compromise the Virginia and New Jersey plans of representation. Theoretical: The Framers favored a bicameral Congress in order that one house might act as a check on the other. Representatives of the People Senators and representatives are elected to represent people. As legislators, they have four voting options: Trustees Delegates Trustees believe that Delegates see themselves each question they face as agents of the people must be decided on its who elected them. merits. Partisans Politicos Lawmakers who owe Politicos attempt to their first allegiance to combine the basic their political party are elements of the trustee, partisans. delegate, and partisan roles. Structure of the Congress 435 in House 2yr. term 25 qualifying age 7 Year residency 100 in Senate 6 yr. Term 30 qualifying ages 9 year residency The date for the start of each new term has been set by the Twentieth Amendment (1933) as “noon of the 3rd day of January” of every odd-numbered year. The Constitution provides that the total number of seats in the House and is apportioned (distributed) among the States based on population. Each represents roughly 750,000 Sessions of Congress A session is the regular period of time during which Congress conducts business. • Congress adjourns, or suspends until the next session, each regular session as it sees fit. • If necessary, the President has the power to prorogue, or adjourn, a session, but only when the two houses cannot agree on a date for adjournment. • Only the President may call Congress into a special session—a meeting to deal with some emergency situation. Congress Convenes The House has formal organizational meetings at the beginning of each term to determine committee membership and standing officers. The Senate, because it is a continuous body, has fewer organizational issues to address at the start of each term. When Congress is organized, the President presents a State of the Union message to a joint session of Congress. This message, in which the President reports on the state of the nation as he sees it, is given annually. Congressional Elections Congressional elections are held on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November of each even-numbered year. Off-year elections are those congressional elections held between presidential elections. Incumbents have a 95% chance of re-election Presidents party usually looses seats in off- year elections Example: 2006 Exception: 2002 Reapportionment Article I of the Constitution directs Congress to reapportion—redistribute—the seats in the House after each decennial census. As the United States grew in population, the number of representatives in the House also grew. The Reapportionment Act of 1929 set the ―permanent‖ size of the House at 435 members, and provided for ―automatic reapportionment.‖ Current Apportionment 110th U.S. Congress The 110th United States Congress was sworn in on January 4, 2007. It will be in session through noon, January 4, 2009. Totals are 233 Democrats and 202 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives and 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans and 2 Independents in the U.S. Senate. 1 from Vermont, junior, and one is Joe Lieberman There are currently 4 TBD seats in the House… The most underrepresented group by far in Congress is women • THE AVERAGE AGE IN THE 110TH CONGRESS IS 57. THE AVERAGE AGE OF HOUSE MEMBERS IS 55.9; THE AVERAGE AGE OF SENATORS 61.7. • THE AVERAGE AGE OF FRESHMAN MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE IS 49.3 AND THE AVERAGE AGE OF FRESHMAN MEMBERS OF THE SENATE IS 54.2 • THERE ARE 90 WOMEN IN THE 110TH CONGRESS, 74 IN THE HOUSE, INCLUDING THREE DELEGATES, AND 16 IN THE SENATE. • THERE ARE 10 WOMEN IN THE FRESHMAN CLASS OF THE HOUSE AND TWO WOMEN IN THE FRESHMAN CLASS OF THE SENATE. • THERE ARE 42 BLACK MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE. OF THESE, THREE ARE FRESHMEN AND TWO ARE DELEGATES. THERE IS ONE BLACK SENATOR. • THERE ARE 27 HISPANIC MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE, INCLUDING ONE DELEGATE. OF THESE, ONE IS A FRESHMAN. THE SENATE HAS THREE HISPANIC MEMBERS. • The freshman class of the House has the first Muslim and the first two Buddhists to serve in Congress. The rest of the class comprises 45 Christians and six Jews. Of the Christians, there are 18 Roman Catholics, 17 Protestants, six nondenominational Christians, three Greek Orthodox Christians and one Mormon. Districting and apportionment The Constitution gives Congress the right to apportion representatives and Congress has given state legislatures control over the drawing of their respective congressional districts Subject to a governors veto, state legislatures draw the district lines for the House of Representatives Party in control of the state legislature traditionally draws the lines to enhance its own political fortunes, which is called gerrymandering State legislatures are free to draw congressional districts as they wish, subject to some constitutional limitations Each district must be equal in population, or as equal as possible (Westbury v. Sanders decision -1964) redistricting occurs once a decade, after each national census One man, one vote Cannot be done along racial lines Districts and Gerrymandering Under the single- Districts that have unusual member district shapes or even defy arrangement, the voter’s description have sometimes in each district elect one been gerrymandered. of the State’s Gerrymandering refers to the representatives. act of drawing congressional The general-ticket districts to the advantage of the political party that controls system, no longer in use, the State legislature. provided that all of a State’s seats were filled at-large. Arizona Congressional District Size, Election, and Terms The Constitution says that the Senate ―shall be composed of two Senators from each State.‖ Today’s Senate consists of 100 Senators. Originally, the Constitution provided that senators were chosen by the State legislatures. In 1912 the Seventeenth Amendment was passed and called for the popular election of senators. Senators serve for six-year terms. The Senate is a continuous body, meaning that all of its seats are never up for election at the same time. ONLY 1/3 of the Senate is up for re-election every 2 years Senators have more diverse policy interests than do members of the House, Serve on more committees, Are more likely to wield power in their state parties The Senate is a more open, fluid, and decentralized body now than it used to be. More clout Filibustering is only allowed in the Senate. Senate = direct influence of the President Compensation Today, senators and representatives are paid a salary of $165,200 a year. The franking privilege allows members of Congress to mail letters and other materials postage-free by substituting their facsimile signature (frank) for the postage. The Constitution says that Congress fixes its own ―compensation.‖ Therefore, the only real limits to congressional pay are the President’s veto and fear of voter backlash against a pay increase. (27TH AMENDMENT = takes affect next term) Limited by veto and voters FRINGE BENEFITS = 1. Tax deduction for two residencies 2. Travel allowance 3. Free and best heath care 4. Amazing pension plan 5. Offices and office staff 6. Gym, pool, cars, etc. Membership Privileges Members of More importantly, the Speech and Debate Congress are Clause (Article I, immune from arrest Section 6, Clause 1) for non-criminal protects offenses while representatives and senators from suits for engaged in libel or slander arising congressional from their official business. conduct. SENATE HOUSE Powers of Congress – Chapter 11 The most powerful branch? Three types of Power: expressed, implied, inherent Expressed Powers: Article 1 section 8 lists 27!!! Congress controls the $$$$$$ of government Congress is the part of government that taxes the people (16th Amendment) The govt. collected over 3.5 trillion in taxes in ’06 = $3,500,000,000,000 + May not tax exports but imports are ok Borrowing power Deficit financing – govt. spends more than it takes in in a given year and therefore borrows to make it up Govt borrows from countries, and selling of bonds Debt = over 10 trillion and about 90% is owed to Americans Commerce power Congress has power to regulate foreign and interstate business Gibbons v. Ogden = broad definition of ―commerce‖ Currency Power Provides us with a uniform currency, works with Federal Reserve Bankruptcy Power – new laws This is a concurrent power but most cases heard in federal courts Foreign Relations Powers Shares these with the president 8 of expressed powers deal with war and national defense Congress ONLY has power to declare war Congress advocates all $ for foreign policy War Powers Resolution – 1973 On the heels of the Vietnam War – technically not a war This gives Congress the power to restrict the use of American forces in combat areas where war does NOT exist It has rendered totally ineffective President must report deployment within 48 hours 60 day deployment limit before approval from Congress Congress has a tough job here: want to look patriotic Other Expressed Powers Control rules and regulations of naturalization – give to states Establish post offices, routes, crimes Weights and measures – approved metric system in 1866 Copyrights and Patents Power to acquire and dispose of territories: eminent domain Creates lower courts, approves judges Defines federal crimes and sets punishments Implied Powers = Necessary and Proper Clause Also called the Elastic clause or the convenient and useful clause McCulloch v. Maryland: 1819 Chief Justice John Marshall Gave broad definition to necessary and proper Gave federal govt. more powers using the supremacy clause Congress must justify anything it does but with the vague terminology of the Constitution and since they define justification it allows them to do almost anything Nonlegislative Powers – Inherent Constitutional Amendments – proposal by 2/3 House chooses if tie in electoral college(twice) Impeachment = bring charges against House does it, Senate tries cases then decides on removal, C.J. presides Appointments – all major pres. Ones by ½ vote exception: staff Treaties – Senate must ratify by 2/3 vote Investigatory Power = used to gather information for legislation, expose questionable activities, or oversee executive agencies. Done frequently in the form of a hearing. Can be govt. or other persons Office of Independent Counsel was created to investigate president only House Leadership Republicans Minority Leader: John Boehner (Oh) Minority Whip: Roy Blunt (Mo) Democrats Speaker of the House: Nancy Pelosi (Ca) 1st woman Majority Leader: Steny Hoyer (Md) Majority Whip: James Clyburn (SC) Senate Leadership Republicans President of the Senate = Vice President Cheney ONLY tie-breaking vote Minority Leader: Mitch McConnell (Ky) Minority Whip: Trent Lott (Miss) Democrats President Pro Tempore: Robert Byrd (WV) Majority Leader: Harry Reid (Nev) Majority Whip: Dick Durbin (Ill) The House of Representatives The Speaker and other leaders The Speaker is formally elected by the House yet is actually selected by the majority party; the Speaker directs business on the floor of the House, and is very influential The Speaker names the members of all select and conference committees, and signs all bills and resolutions passed by the House. Also assigns bills to committees The majority leader assists the Speaker by helping plan party strategy, conferring with other party leaders, and trying to keep members of the party in line The minority leader does the same for the other party Whips assist each floor leader, serving as liaisons between the house leadership of each party and the rank-and-file The House Rules Committee Helps regulate the time of floor debate for each bill as well as limitations on floor amendments Closed rule versus open rule They are the traffic coppos of Congress Permanent Committees of Congress Ways and Means Committee The House Committee on Ways and Means is the oldest standing committee in Congress. It was created in 1789 and has jurisdiction over legislation, methods, and means of raising revenue for the use of the government. In addition to legislating, the Committee exercises broad oversight authority over economic policy, international trade, welfare, Social Security, Medicare and health care policy. Congressional Staff Staffers draft bills, conduct research, and do much of the legislative negotiating and coalition building, often influencing legislative decisions. Party • Partisan voting has increased; party differences are stronger over domestic, regulatory, and welfare reform measures than over foreign policy or civil liberty issues. • Very strong partisan differences in Clinton’s impeachment (98% each way). Interest groups – Lobbyists work for them • In addition to their roles as financiers of elections, they provide information. • They can mobilize grassroots activists to lobby Congress. Bill to a Law The First Steps A bill is a proposed law presented to the House or Senate for consideration. The clerk of the House numbers each bill, gives it a short title, and enters it into the House Journal and the Congressional Record for the day. With these actions the bill has received its first reading. The bill is sent to the appropriate committee to be discussed, debated and defended or opposed. Hearings, riders and changes Often sent to a subcommittee 90% of all bills never make it out of committee Committee Actions When a subcommittee has completed its work on a bill, it returns to the full committee. The full committee may do one of several things: 1. Report the bill favorably, with a ―do pass‖ recommendation. 2. Refuse to report the bill. 3. Report the bill in amended Pigeonhole -> discharge petition form. RIDERS must occur within 30 days 4. Report the bill with 5. Report a committee bill. unfavorable recommendation. Start all over again Changing a Bill Riders Additions that are unrelated to the original bill New bridge for Madison County on Iraq military spending bill These riders are often referred to as pork barrelling or just pork Bringing home the bacon to make your constituents gleeful Log rolling Convincing compadres to vote with you on your pet bill and promise to return the favor: quid pro quo MONEY bills must originate in the HOUSE Filibuster and Cloture Filibuster The Cloture Rule A filibuster is an attempt to Rule XXII in the Standing ―talk a bill to death.‖ Rules of the Senate deals A senator may exercise his with cloture, or limiting debate or her right of holding the floor as long as necessary, Cloture votes may end the and in essence talk until a filibuster (16 signatures, measure is dropped. three-fifths vote, 1 hour per Used to delay Senate senator), 60 senators vote for cloture, no more than proceedings in order to another 30 hours may be delay or prevent a vote spent on debate, forcing a Two-speech rule per day vote on a bill. Conference Committees Any measure enacted by Congress must have been passed by both houses in identical form. If one of the houses will not accept the other’s version of a bill, a conference committee is formed to iron out the differences. Once a conference committee completes work on a bill, it is returned to both houses for final approval. It must be accepted or rejected without amendment. Nothing new but changes are okay… The President Acts The Constitution provides four options for the President when he receives a bill: 1. The President may sign the 2. The President may veto the bill, and it then becomes law. bill, or refuse to sign it. The President’s veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the members present in each house. 3. If the President does not act 4. A pocket veto occurs if upon a bill within 10 days of Congress adjourns within 10 receiving it, it becomes law. days of submitting a bill and the President does not sign it. The bill then dies. Party Officers The Party Caucus The party caucus is a closed meeting of the members of each party in each house which deals with matters of party organization. The Floor Leaders The floor leaders are party officers picked for their posts by their party colleagues. The party whips assist the floor leaders and serve as a liaison between the party’s leadership and its rank-and-file members.
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