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Chapter 9 Congress. Congress. Origins, Structure, and Membership Bicameral Differences Rules of Lawmaking: How a Bill Becomes a Law Budgeting and Oversight. Legislative Branch. English Legislative Heritage Parliament The Great Compromise Bicameral Design Apportionment

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Chapter 9 Congress

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  • Origins, Structure, and Membership
  • Bicameral Differences
  • Rules of Lawmaking: How a Bill Becomes a Law
  • Budgeting and Oversight
legislative branch
Legislative Branch
  • English Legislative Heritage
    • Parliament
  • The Great Compromise
    • Bicameral Design
  • Apportionment
  • Congressional Districts
    • Political Equality
    • Gerrymandering
constitutional basis
Constitutional Basis
  • Article I, Section 1 - All legislative powers vested in a Congress…
  • Article I, Section 8 - Powers to…
  • Article I, Section 9 - Be no section
  • Article I, Section 10 - Be no state section
  • Compromise in structure and representation
the electoral connection
The Electoral Connection
  • Qualifications (25/7 and 30/9 - resident)
  • Factors contribute to the composition of Congress:

— who decides to run

— the incumbency effect (95-98/83-85%)

  • Terms and Sessions (Jan 3rd - 109th)
  • Term Limits

Differences between the House and the Senate

- filibusters/riders permitted

politico styles
Politico Styles
  • Trustee representation
    • trusted to use own judgement and conscience
    • social issues
  • Delegate representation
    • expected to vote constituents desires
    • economic - “bread and butter issues”
  • Domestic Policy Decisions
  • Foreign Policy Decisions
  • Constant battle to balance
what exactly do they do
What Exactly Do They Do?
  • Continuous Campaign
  • Pork Barrel Politicking
  • Constituent Case Work
internal influence
Internal Influence
  • Reciprocity - log rolling
  • Personal Courtesy - “the honorable gentleman from”, stigmas of personal attacks.
  • Specialization - committee expertise
  • Caucuses are groups of senators or representatives who share certain opinions, interests or social characteristics.
    • Democratic Study Group
    • Congressional Black Caucus
    • Hispanic Caucus
    • Caucus for Women’s Issues
the organization of congress
The Organization of Congress
  • Party Leadership
  • The Committee System
  • The Staff System
party leadership house
Majority Party

Speaker of the House

Majority leader

Majority whip

Committee on Committees -Conference

Minority Party

Minority leader

Minority whip

Steering and Policy Committee

Party Leadership: House

Congressional leadership is chosen every two years at the beginning of each new congressional session.

party leadership senate

President of the Senate

Vice president

Votes to break ties

President pro tempore

ceremonial position

given to ranking member of the majority party


Majority leader


Minority leader


Majority Policy Committee

Minority Policy Committee

Party Leadership: Senate
the committee system
The Committee System
  • Standing committees (19/16) and their respective subcommittees (88/68)
  • Select committees
  • Joint committees
  • Conference committee
standing committees
Standing Committees
  • Standing committees are the most important arenas of congressional policy making.
  • Permanent: exist from session to session
  • Power to receive and process legislation
    • Exception: House Rules Committee
  • Jurisdiction specified by subject matter and generally mirrors major cabinet department
  • Assignment based on needs of members
  • Leadership based on seniority on the committee
other committees
Other Committees
  • Select committees: a temporary legislative committee set up to highlight or investigate a particular issue
  • Joint committees: a legislative committee with members from both chambers formed to study particular issues
  • Conference committee: a joint committee created to reach compromise on legislation passed by both chambers
the staff system
The Staff System
  • Staffs are maintained in Washington, D.C. and back home.
    • Legislative assistant
      • Work with legislative drafting
      • Develop policy ideas
    • Administrative assistant
      • Work with lobbyists
      • Work on constituent requests
  • Congressional committees are also provided staffs.
  • Support agencies provide information support.
    • Congressional Budget Office
    • General Accounting Office
    • Congressional Research Service
rules of lawmaking how a bill becomes a law
Rules of Lawmaking:How a Bill Becomes a Law
  • Filing with clerk
  • Committee deliberation
  • Debate
  • Conference committee
  • Presidential action
how a bill becomes a law30
How a Bill Becomes a Law
  • Legislation must be introduced in either the House or the Senate before it officially becomes a bill.
  • Assigned a bill number (H.R. 1 or S. 1)
  • Assigned to the appropriate committee based on jurisdiction of the standing committees
committee deliberation
Committee Deliberation
  • Most of the work on legislation is conducted at the committee level.
  • 95% of bills die at the committee or subcommittee level.
  • Discharge petition may be used to pull a bill out of committee.
house rules committee
House Rules Committee
  • Each bill that survives committee must go through the Rules Committee.
  • Determines the length of debate and the nature of amendments that may be offered to the legislation
the senate s unanimous consent rule
The Senate’s Unanimous Consent Rule
  • The Senate lacks a Rules Committee.
    • Executive Calendar (Treaties and Appointments)
    • Calendar of General Orders
  • The Senate utilizes the unanimous consent rule to permit bills to reach the floor.
  • Any senator can kill a bill by withholding consent
  • Contrary to the House, the Senate permits open and lengthy debate on legislation.
  • A filibuster can be used to “talk a bill to death.”
  • A cloture vote is used to defeat a filibuster:
    • sixty votes necessary to end filibuster.
conference committee
Conference Committee
  • A conference committee is called when different versions of a bill are passed by the Senate and the House and a compromise is needed.
  • Members of the committee that worked on the legislation serve on the committee.
  • Compromise must be approved by both the House and the Senate.
presidential action
Presidential Action
  • The president may
  • sign the bill into law;
  • allow the bill to become law without his signature;
  • veto (reject) the bill with a formal veto message
    • override by two-thirds vote of both chambers;
  • Pocket veto.
beyond legislation other congressional powers
Beyond Legislation:Other Congressional Powers
  • Oversight
  • Advice and Consent
  • Impeachment
  • Oversight is the effort by Congress, through hearings, investigations, and other techniques, to exercise control over the activities of the executive agencies while legislation is being implemented.
  • The appropriations process is an important oversight tool.
advice and consent
Advice and Consent
  • The Senate must approve presidential appointments by a simple majority.
  • Treaties must be approved by the Senate with a two-thirds vote.
    • Executive agreements circumvent this process.
    • Congress can refused to appropriate funding.
  • The president and other high-ranking officials may be removed from office by through impeachment by the House and conviction in the Senate.
  • Grounds include treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.