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Organization of Congress. Congress’ Constitutional responsibilities. To provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States … …Lay and collect Taxes… …Borrow Money; …Regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

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congress constitutional responsibilities
Congress’ Constitutional responsibilities
  • To provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States…
  • …Lay and collect Taxes…
  • …Borrow Money;
  • …Regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
  • …Coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures
  • …Promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, …
  • …To constitute Tribunals (Courts)…
  • …Declare War etc..
the elastic clause
The “Elastic” Clause

…To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

house special powers
House special powers
  • Originate all tax bills
  • Impeach (charge) presidents and judges
senate special powers
Senate special powers
  • Try impeachments
  • Confirm ambassadors, public ministers, judges
  • Ratify treaties (2/3 vote)

Why might it be hard for 435 Representatives and 100 Senators to write all of the laws that “provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare?”

how does congress cope with those problems how does it fulfill its constitutional responsibilities

How does Congress cope with those problems? How does it fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities?

institutions to overcome obstacles
Institutions to overcome obstacles
  • Committee System
  • Party organization
  • Floor Procedure
  • Staff
house committees


Armed Services


Education and the Workforce

Energy and Commerce

Financial Services

Government Reform

Homeland Security

House Administration

International Relations





Small Business

Standards of Official Conduct

Transportation and Infrastructure

Veterans\' Affairs

Ways and Means

Joint Economic Committee

Joint Committee on Printing

Joint Committee on Taxation

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

House committees
senate committees
Senate committees

Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Appropriations Armed Services Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Budget Commerce, Science, and Transportation Energy and Natural Resources Environment and Public Works Finance Foreign Relations Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Judiciary Rules and Administration Small Business and Entrepreneurship Veterans Affairs

subcommittees house agriculture committee
Subcommittees: House Agriculture Committee
  • Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Rural Development and Research
  • Jurisdiction: Soil, water, and resource conservation; small watershed program; agricultural credit; rural development; rural electrification; farm security and family farming matters; agricultural research, education and extension services; plant pesticides, quarantine, adulteration of seeds, and insect pests; biotechnology.
  • Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management
  • Jurisdiction: Program and markets related to cotton, cottonseed, wheat, feed grains, soybeans, oilseeds, rice, dry beans, peas, lentils; Commodity Credit Corporation; crop insurance; commodity exchanges.
  • Subcommittee on Specialty Crops and Foreign Agriculture Programs
  • Jurisdiction: Peanuts; sugar; tobacco; honey and bees; marketing orders relating to such commodities; foreign agricultural assistance and trade promotion programs, generally.
  • Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Dairy, Nutrition and Forestry
  • Jurisdiction: Agency oversight; review and analysis; special investigations; dairy; food stamps, nutrition and consumer programs; forestry in general, forest reserves other than those created from the public domain; energy and biobased energy production; dairy.
  • Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture
  • Jurisdiction: Livestock; poultry; meat; seafood and seafood products; inspection, marketing, and promotion of such commodities; aquaculture; animal welfare; grazing; fruits and vegetables; marketing and promotion orders
a riddle sort of
A riddle (sort of)
  • How is a carpool different than a bus line?
house floor procedure
House floor procedure
  • Limited debate
  • The Rules Committee
  • Open and closed rules
  • The “bus line”
senate floor procedure
Senate floor procedure
  • No rules committee
  • Unlimited debate
    • Filibuster
    • Cloture Rule
  • Complex Unanimous Consent Agreements
  • “The car pool”
what do parties do
What do parties do?
  • Elect organizational leadership that…
  • Hands out committee assignments
  • Hands out committee chairmanships
  • Controls Rules Committee (Speaker)
  • Influences distribution of pork
  • Can help with campaigns
other institutions
Other institutions
  • Staff
    • (provides information)
  • Decorum
    • (regulates conflict)
  • Seniority system
    • (reduces incentive to free ride)
differences between the house vs senate
Differences between the House vs. Senate
  • Prominence of constituents and reelection
  • Degree of Specialization
  • Hierarchy
  • Protection of minorities