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pp. 352-363 Representatives and Senators. Unit 4 - Congress. Introduction. The framers of the Constitution conceived of Congress as the center of policymaking in America. In recent years, Congress has been the true center of power in Washington.

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Unit 4 - Congress

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Pp 352 363 representatives and senators

pp. 352-363

Representatives and Senators

Unit 4 - Congress


Introduction

Introduction

  • The framers of the Constitution conceived of Congress as the center of policymaking in America.

  • In recent years, Congress has been the true center of power in Washington.

  • The movement of legislation through the congressional labyrinth has never been more complicated, and just finding time to debate the issues has become difficult.


The job

The Job

  • Despite public perceptions, hard work is one of the most prominent characteristics of a member of Congress’ job.

  • Usually on about 6 different committees and subcommittees (HoR); and about 10 for a Senator.

  • Attractions – power; making key decisions; salary and perks


The people

The People

  • 535 members of Congress

  • Members of the House – 25; American citizen for 7 years; must be residents of the states from which they are elected.

  • Senators – 30; American citizens for 9 years; must be residents of the states from which they are elected.


The people continued

The People Continued…

  • Mostly come from high status occupations (business and law).

  • Minorities are not well represented.

  • Women are the most underrepresented demographic in Congress.

  • Descriptive representation – mirroring their constituents

  • Substantive representation – representing the interests of groups


Who wins

Who Wins?

  • Incumbents – already hold office

  • HoR – 90%+ of incumbents win with more than 60% of the vote

  • Senate – have a better than equal chance, but not re-elected as often as incumbents from HoR (Figure 12.1)

  • Reason – an entire state is almost always more diverse than a congressional district and thus provides more of a base for opposition


Advantages of incumbents

Advantages of Incumbents

  • Voters are not very aware of how their senators and reps actually vote

  • Members of Congress do not gain or lose very much from the fluctuation of the economy.

  • Members of Congress engage in 3 primary activities – advertising, credit claiming and position taking.


Advertising

Advertising

  • Mostly takes place between elections and takes the form of contact with the constituents.


Credit claiming

Credit Claiming

  • Casework – helping constituents cut through bureaucratic red tape

  • Pork barrel – expenditures on federal projects, grants and contracts for cities.

  • Rarely pass up the chance to increase federal spending in their state or district.


Pork barrel

Pork Barrel

  • Government, Politics & Diplomacy) Slangchiefly US a bill or project requiring considerable government spending in a locality to the benefit of the legislator's constituents who live there.


Position taking

Position Taking

  • Must engage in position taking on matters of public policy when they vote on issues and when they respond to constituents‘ questions about where they stand on issues.

  • The position may make a difference in the outcome of an election, esp. if the issues are salient to voters and their stands.


Defeating incumbents

Defeating Incumbents

  • If an incumbent is tarnished by scandal or corruption

  • Reapportionment after a federal census


Money

Money $$$

  • Although most of the money spent in congressional elections comes from individuals, 30% of the funds raised by candidates for Congress comes from PACs

  • Each PAC is limited to an expenditure of $5,000 per candidate (loopholes???)


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