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0. Congress. FOCUS. Why were Congress created and its powers? Congress’ function. Congress’ level & its structure. Congress’ Membership Single Member Districts At-Large Elections. FOCUS continued.

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Congress

focus
FOCUS
  • Why were Congress created and its powers?
  • Congress’ function.
  • Congress’ level & its structure.
  • Congress’ Membership
    • Single Member Districts
    • At-Large Elections
focus continued
FOCUS continued
  • Explaining Congressional Elections, Compensation, Terms of Office, Representation, Reapportionment, & Redistricting?
  • Defining Gerrymandering and its techniques?
  • Leadership in Congress.
  • The Committee System and its structure.
  • How does a bill become a law?
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  • Why was Congress Created?
  • Founders believed that the bulk of the power that would be exercised by a national government should be in the hands of the legislature.
  • Founders feared tyrannical and powerful, unchecked rulers.
  • Founders also had experienced the weakness of Congress under the Articles of Confederation.
  • Bicameralism attempts to balance the power among large and small states.
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  • The Powers of Congress
  • Enumerated powers (AKA, expressed)—that is, powers expressly given to Congress which come from Article I, section 8 of the Constitution.
    • Examples:
      • Coin (and print) money and regulate its value.
      • Regulate interstate commerce and international trade.
      • Raise and regulate an army and a navy.
      • Establish the federal court structure.
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  • The Powers of Congress
  • Implied Powers, under Article I, Section 6—
    • Known as either the “elastic” or the “necessary and proper” clause.
    • Gave broad powers to Congress to enact laws that may assist it in accomplishing goals directly related to Congress’ enumerated power.
the functions of congress
The Functions of Congress

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  • Lawmaking
  • Constituent service
    • Ombudsperson
    • Casework
  • Representing
  • Oversight
  • Public education
  • Conflict resolution
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  • The Functions of Congress
  • Lawmaking—charged with making binding rules for all Americans.
  • Constituent service—individual members of Congress are expected by their constituents to act as brokers between private citizens and the imposing, often faceless federal government:
    • Ombudsperson—a person who hears and investigates complaints by private individuals against public officials or agencies.
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  • The Functions of Congress (continued)
  • Constituent service (cont’d): individual members of Congress are expected by their constituents to act as brokers between private citizens and the imposing, often faceless federal government:
    • Casework—personal work for constituents by members of Congress.
      • E.G., such as tracking down a missing social security check.
      • E.G., explaining the meaning of particular bills to people who may be affected by them.
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  • The Functions of Congress (continued)
  • Representing citizens—
    • as a trustee—who uses personal judgment.
    • as an instructed delegate—who uses the constituents’ judgment.
    • politico--as a combination of roles.
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  • The Functions of Congress (continued)
  • Oversight: it is the process by which Congress follows up on laws it has enacted to ensure that they are being enforced and administered in the way Congress intended. For example
    • Committee hearings and investigations.
    • Changing the size of an agency’s budget.
    • Cross-examining high-level presidential nominees to head major agencies.
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  • The Functions of Congress (continued)
  • Public education—this is exercised whenever Congress holds public hearings, exercises oversight over the bureaucracy, or engages in committee and floor debates on such major issues and topics as political assassinations, aging, illegal drugs, etc.
  • Conflict resolution—Congress is commonly seen as an institution for resolving conflicts within American society by passing laws to accommodate as many interested parties as possible.
congress level its structure
Congress’ Level & Its Structure.
  • Congress is in the National level or it can also be referred to as the Central or Federal level of government
  • Congress’ structure is Bicameral. That is, there are two chambers within in the same institution. One chambers is the House of Representatives and the other is the Senate.
  • Congress convenes annually and meets for approximately 150 Days.
membership in congress
Membership In Congress
  • Membership refers to the numbers of persons that exist in each chamber.
  • There are two chambers in Congress.
    • A House of Representatives chamber = HR.
    • A Senate chamber = S.
membership in congress1
Membership In Congress

HR = This chambers has a total of 435 members.

Each state receives a numbers of representatives based on the size of its population.

The number of house representatives equals the number of single member districts that are represented in that state.

single member district
Single-Member District-
  • The current arrangement for electing national and state legislators in the United States in which one candidate is elected in each legislative district.
  • The winner is the candidate with the most votes. The single-member system allows only one individual candidate from only one party to win in any given district.
  • There are residential requirements: the citizen voting must live in the single member district in which she/he is voting; the candidate must also live in the district in which the candidate is seeking election. Came from this link: http://www.tay.fi/FAST/GC/poliglos.html
membership in congress2
Membership In Congress

Senate: This chambers has a total of 100 members.

Two persons are elected through at-large elections from a pool of congressional candidates from each state.

membership in congress3
Membership In Congress

AT-LARGE ELECTION -- An election in which candidates are chosen on an individual basis rather than as representatives of a geographically defined, single-member district.

At-large elections can be held at the legislative and presidential levels.

Came from this link: http://www.ncsl.org/?TabId=13539

membership continued
Membership continued
  • Texas as an example: It’s congressional delegation is 34.
    • HR = 32 (each state receives a numbers of representatives based on the size of its population).
      • Press Link for map display of districts: http://congdistdata.tamu.edu/USCongressionalDistricts.pdf
    • Senate = There are 2 persons who are elected through at-large elections from a pool of congressional candidates by citizens in Texas.
representation per person
Representation Per Person
  • In Congress, among this total membership of 535 members, each citizen has her/his own representative to work on her/his behalf. Let’s use Texas as an example:
    • In the House, a citizen has one HR (based on residence).Texas, Congressional, House of Representative Districts: http://congdistdata.tamu.edu/USCongressionalDistricts.pdf
    • In the Senate, a citizen has two representatives.
    • Thus, a citizen has a total of three representatives in Congress.
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  • Congressional Elections & Compensation
  • House of Representatives
    • elected every two years
    • by popular ballot
    • number of seats is determined by population
    • each state has at least one representative
    • Compensation (their salary) is $169,300 per year.
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  • Congressional Elections & Compensation
  • U.S. Senate
    • elected every six years.
    • by popular ballot (since ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment).
    • one third of the Senate is elected every two years.
    • each state has two Senators.
    • Compensation (their salary) is $169,300 per year.
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  • Congressional Reapportionment And Redistricting
  • reapportionment – the allocations of seats in the House of Representatives to each state after each census.
  • versus
  • redistricting – the redrawing of the boundaries of the districts within each state.
reapportionment the of seats in the hr
Reapportionment: The # of seats in the HR

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  • Remember, each house of representative is elected into single-member districts, where each legislator represents a separate, distinct election district. The number of districts equals the numbers of HR’s.
  • In 1964, the USSC applied the “one person, one vote” principle to U.S. Congressional districts on the basis of Article I, Section 2, of the Constitution, which requires that members of the House be chosen “by the people of the several States.”
  • Following every 10 year census, each state must determine its population and be apportioned. Then, depending if its population has remained the same, increased, or decreased, that state’s allotment of house of representatives will stay the same, increased, or decreased (AKA, reapportionment).
  • Schmidt et al, 2010:428 and 837.
re districting d rawing district lines for hr
Redistricting: Drawing District Lines for HR

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  • Remember, each house of representative is elected into single-member districts, where each legislator represents a separate, distinct election district.
  • Applying the same ruling, in 1964, where the USSC applied the “one person, one vote” principle to U.S. Congressional districts, the Court held that the HR chamber must be apportioned so that all districts are equal in population.
  • Following every 10 year census, each U.S. Congressional district may undertake a redistricting process to correct for changes in the populations of that district.
  • Texas, Congressional, House of Representative Districts: http://congdistdata.tamu.edu/USCongressionalDistricts.pdf
  • Schmidt et al, 2010:428 and 837.
geographic districts cont d
Geographic Districts (Cont’d)

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  • The U.S. Voting Rights Act (1965) declares that states with a history of electoral discrimination against minority groups must preclear redistricting plans with the U.S. Justice Department of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia.
limiting geographic districts through gerrymandering
Limiting Geographic Districts:Through Gerrymandering

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  • Gerrymandering occurs if the congressional HR district lines are redrawn to give a certain party, faction, or ethnic group an advantage.
gerrymandering 3 techniques
Gerrymandering: 3 Techniques

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  • Dispersing / Scattering/Cracking:
  • Concentrated/Packing:
  • Incumbent Gerrymandering/Pairing:
dispersing scattering cracking
Dispersing/Scattering/Cracking:

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  • To diffuse a concentrated political or ethnic minority among several districts so that its votes in any one district are negligible. Press link below to view a diagram of this technique.
      • http://www.alamo.edu/sac/gov/smith/2301Trad/Rich_Text_Format_files/Resource_Materials/gerrymander_3_Techniques.jpg
concentrated packing
Concentrated/Packing

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  • Concentrated/Packing occurs if minority’s numbers are great enough when diffused to affect the outcome of elections in several districts. That is, the minority is concentrated in one district to ensure that it will influence only one election and that its influence in the whole legislature will be minimal. Press link below to view a diagram of this technique.
      • http://www.alamo.edu/sac/gov/smith/2301Trad/Rich_Text_Format_files/Resource_Materials/gerrymander_3_Techniques.jpg
incumbent gerrymandering pairing
Incumbent Gerrymandering/Pairing

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  • Incumbent Gerrymandering/Pairing redistricts two or more incumbent legislators’ residences or political bases so that both are in the same district, thereby ensuring that one will be defeated. Press link below to view a diagram of this technique.
      • http://www.alamo.edu/sac/gov/smith/2301Trad/Rich_Text_Format_files/Resource_Materials/gerrymander_3_Techniques.jpg
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  • Leadership in the U.S. Congress
  • House of Representatives
    • Speaker of the House
    • House Majority Leader
    • House Minority Leader
    • House Majority Whip
    • House Minority Whip
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  • Leadership in the U.S. Congress
  • House of Representatives
    • Speaker of the House: the presiding officer in the House of Representatives.
    • The Speaker is always a member of the majority party and is the most powerful and influential member of the House.
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  • Leadership in the U.S. Congress
  • House of Representatives
    • House Majority Leader: a legislative position held by an important party member in the House of Representatives.
    • The majority leader is selected by the majority party in caucus or conference to foster cohesion among party members and to act as spokesperson for the majority party in the House.
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  • Leadership in the U.S. Congress
  • House of Representatives
    • House Minority Leader: the party leader elected by the minority party in the House to foster cohesion among party members and to act as spokesperson for the minority party in the House; in addition, to speak on behalf of the president if the minority party controls the White House..
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  • Leadership in the U.S. Congress
  • House of Representatives
    • Whips: a member of Congress who aids the majority or minority leader of the House or floor leader.
    • The whips are members of Congress who assist the party leaders by passing information down from the leadership to party members and by ensuring that members show up for floor debate and cast their votes on important issues.
    • For example, whips conduct polls among party members about the members’ views on legislation, inform the leaders about whose vote is doubtful and whose is certain, and may exert pressure on members to support the leaders’ positions.
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  • Leadership in the U.S. Congress
  • U.S. Senate
    • President of Senate (Vice President of U.S.) (essentially ceremonial)
    • President pro tempore or pro tem
    • Majority Leader
    • Minority Leader
    • Whips
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  • Leadership in the U.S. Congress
  • U.S. Senate
    • President of Senate : Vice President of U.S. and it is essentially ceremonial. That person is referred to as the president when in that capacity within the Senate and is the presiding officer.
    • He/she may vote to break a tie.
    • The vice president is only rarely present for a meeting of the Senate. The senate elects instead a president pro tempore to preside over the Senate in the vice president’s absence.
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  • Leadership in the U.S. Congress
  • U.S. Senate
    • President Pro Tempore (essentially ceremonial) presides over the Senate in the vice president’s absence.
    • Ordinarily, the president pro tem is the member of the majority party with the longest continuous term of service in the Senate.
    • Junior senators take turns actually presiding over the sessions of the Senate.
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  • Leadership in the U.S. Congress
  • U.S. Senate
    • Majority Leader: The chief spokesperson of the majority party in the Senate, who directs the legislative program and party strategy.
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  • Leadership in the U.S. Congress
  • U.S. Senate
    • Minority Leader: The party officer in the Senate who commands the minority party’s opposition to the policies of the majority party and directs the legislative program and strategy of his or her party.
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  • Leadership in the U.S. Congress
  • U.S. Senate
    • Whips: a member of Congress who aids the majority or minority leader of the Senate or floor leader.
    • The whips are members of Congress who assist the party leaders by passing information down from the leadership to party members and by ensuring that members show up for floor debate and cast their votes on important issues.
    • For example, whips conduct polls among party members about the members’ views on legislation, inform the leaders about whose vote is doubtful and whose is certain, and may exert pressure on members to support the leaders’ positions.
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The Committee System

It breaks up the large workload of a legislature and makes the workload more manageable.

Press link for more details: http://www.alamo.edu/sac/gov/smith/2301Trad/Committee_System.htm

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  • The Committee Structure
  • Standing committees (existin both chambers)
  • Select committee (existin both chambers)
  • Joint committees (serves both chambers)
  • Conference committees (serves both chambers)
  • House Rules committee (only in HR)
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  • The Committee System’s Structure (Continued)
  • standing committees—permanent committees that oversee an area of legislative policy.
  • Examples:
    • Agriculture
    • Appropriations
    • Arm Services
    • Banking and financial Services
    • Budget
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  • The Committee System’s Structure (Continued)
  • standing committees—Examples:
  • List of United States House committees, press link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_House_committees
  • List of United States Senate committees, press link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_Senate_committees
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  • The Committee System’s Structure (Continued)
  • select committees—operate for a limited period and for a specific legislative purpose.
  • Once reported to the chamber that created them, they rarely create original legislation.
    • E.G., formed to investigate a public problem, such as child nutrition or aging.
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  • The Committee System’s Structure (Continued)
  • joint committees—formed by the concurrent action of both chambers of Congress and consists of members from each chamber.
  • Joint committees, which may be permanent or temporary, have dealt with the economy, taxation, and the Library of Congress.
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  • The Committee System’s Structure (Continued)
  • conference committees—a special joint committee. These are convened when a bill has passed both chambers but there are differences between the version approved by the House and the version approved by the Senate.
  • House Rules committee—unique to the House, necessary to set rules for 435 members.
how a bill becomes law memorize
How a Bill Becomes Law (Memorize)

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  • The process begins with a bill being introduced to the House or Senate or both. Bills may be introduced in either chamber or, to speed the process, in both chambers at the same time.
  • The bill is referred to the appropriate committee and subcommittee where the heart of the legislative process occurs.
  • The content specialists on the committee closely examine the bill.
  • If the committee votes on it favorably, the bill is sent to the Rules committee in the House or scheduled for floor debate in the Senate.
how a bill becomes law cont d
How a Bill Becomes Law—Cont’d

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  • The bill is debated and voted on by the entire House and Senate.
  • If a bill has passed the House and Senate with a majority vote but in slightly different form, it will be sent to a conference committee to work out the differences in the bill.
  • If approved by both the House and Senate, the bill is sent to the president for his signature or veto.
how a bill becomes law cont d1
How a Bill Becomes Law—Cont’d

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  • The bill is debated and voted on by the entire House and Senate.
  • If a bill has passed the House and Senate with a majority vote but in slightly different form, it will be sent to a conference committee to work out the differences in the bill.
  • If approved by both the House and Senate, the bill is sent to the president for his signature or veto.
once a bill goes through both chambers
Once A Bill Goes Through Both Chambers
  • The president has several options for dealing with an act of the legislature.
    • First, he/she may sign it into law.
    • Second, he/she may choose not to sign it; in which circumstance, it becomes law within 10 days by default.
the president s third option
The president’s third option.

Pocket veto: if Congress adjourns before the ten days have passed and the President has not yet signed the bill.

In such a case, the bill does not become law; it is effectively, if not actually, vetoed.

This is seen as ignoring legislation or "putting a bill in one's pocket" until Congress adjourns—thus is called a pocket veto

Since Congress cannot vote while in adjournment, a pocket veto cannot be overridden.

video version how a bill becomes law cont d
Video Version: How a Bill Becomes Law Cont’d

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  • Known as “Schoolhouse Rock,” press link below
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEJL2Uuv-oQ
congress texas legislature comparison table
Congress / Texas Legislature Comparison Table
  • I have prepared a handout that compares Congress to the Texas Legislature.
  • It is a useful tool because let’s a student learn about both Congress and the Texas Legislature within the same document.
  • For this table, press link.
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This concludes a study on Congress.

reference
REFERENCE

Schmidt , S. W., Shelley, M. C., Bardes, B. A., Maxwell, W. E., Crain, E., & Santos, A. (2009-2010 Texas Edition).American Government and Politics Today. Boston: MA. Wadsworth.

O’Connor, K., Sabato, L.J., Yanus, A. B., Keith, G. A., & Haag, S. D. (2009). Essentials of American & Texas Government. New York: NY. Longman.

APA CITATION STYLE

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  • Hot Links to Selected Internet Resources:
  • http://www.wadsworth.com/cgi-wadsworth/course_products_wp.pl?fid=M2&discipline_number=20&product_isbn_issn=0534592651
  • http://www.wadsworth.com/politicalscience
  • http://www.senate.gov/
  • http://www.house.gov/
  • http://www.rollcall.com