institutions of government congress chapter 12 n.
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  2. Vocabulary Congress Chapter 12 • Baker v. Carr-Joint Committee • Cloture -Logrolling • Congressional oversight -Majority leader • Constituent -Pork barrel • Earmarks -Reapportionment • Filibuster -Regulatory policy • Gerrymandering -Standing committees • Gridlock-Whips

  3. Congress • Viewed as the citizens’ direct link to the branch of government that is responsible for forming public policy. • Functions include: representing the interests of constituents, lawmaking through consensus building, oversight of governmental agencies, policy clarification, and ratification of public policies.

  4. Congress • Congress has come under public criticism • Polls have reflected deep voter concern regarding the issues of congressional gridlock, term limits for representatives and senators, and the influence of lobbyists and PACs on representatives. • Many newly elected representatives have committed themselves to reforming congressional structure, procedures, and practices.

  5. Review of Congress according to constitution • Basis of constitutional authority is found in Article I • A House member must be at least 25 years old, an American citizen for seven years, and an inhabitant of the state the representative represents. Representatives serve two-year terms • A senator must be 30 years old, an American citizen for nine years, and a resident of the state the senator represents. Senators serve six-year terms.

  6. Review of Congress according to constitution • Common powers delegated to Congress, listed in Article I Section 8 include the power to tax, coin money, declare war, and regulate foreign and interstate commerce. • Implied congressional comes from the “necessary and proper” clause, which has been referred to as the elastic clause.

  7. Review of Congress according to constitution • House of Representatives has the power to begin all revenue bills, to select president if there is no electoral college majority, and to initiate impeachment proceedings. • Senate has the power to approve presidential appointments and treaties and to try impeachment proceedings. • Congress may overrule a presidential veto by a two-thirds vote of each house.

  8. Reelection • In first ten years of Congress, over 1/3 of the senators resigned before the end of their terms. • In the House a large number of representatives served only one or two terms. • As political parties developed, congressional reelection rate increased. • Influential senators and representatives could use their office as an entrée to the presidency.

  9. Reapportionment • Reapportionment Act of 1929 still standing law. • Provides for a permanent size of the House and provides for the number of seats, based on the census, of each state. • Each seat represents around 650,000 people • Left up to each state to determine makeup of each congressional district=charges of political gerrymandering.

  10. Reapportionment • Look up and add to notes: • Wesberry v Sanders (1964) • Baker v Carr (1962) • In 1995 Court ruled that a district in Georgia, which was apportioned to create representation for African-Americans, was unconstitutional.

  11. Election of Incumbents • Once elected a sitting representative has a distinct advantage (unless there is a scandal, 1992 many incumbents decided not to seek reelection or were defeated). • Statistics of incumbency are staggering: only 2 members of Congress lost in 1986, only 1 in 1988; on average fewer than 2% are defeated in primaries and less than 7% defeated in general election.

  12. Election of Incumbents • Senate reelection rate is slightly lower; House members who represent smaller districts, senators represent the interests of an entire state. • Why do incumbents have this advantage? Incumbents are highly visible. • Representatives are quick to take credit for obtaining funds through legislation that favors their home districts called earmarks (called pork barrel legislation).

  13. Structure • Bicameral (two-house) structure of the Congress made it a necessity to develop an organization that would allow both houses to conduct business and accomplish main function of passing legislation. • Each house has presiding officer. • Speaker is selected by the majority party.

  14. Structure • 1994 mid term elections Republican chose controversial and conservative Newt Gingrich. Earned reputation as most powerful speaker, but power declined in 1996. • After loosing seats in 1998 mid term election, Gingrich resigned. • Dennis Hastert was elected and became longest serving Speaker until 2006, when Democrats elected first woman speaker, Nancy Pelosi. Now John Boehner

  15. Structure • The speaker presides over the House meetings, expected to be impartial (even if member of majority party). • Very powerful: recognizes speakers, referring bills to committees, answering procedural questions, declaring the outcome of votes • Speaker Names members to all select (special) committees and conference committees.

  16. Structure • Speaker usually votes only to break a tie, has power to appoint temporary speakers (pro tempore) to run meetings • Third in line after vice president to succeed the president • President of the Senate is the vice president of U.S. • Only specific power he has is to break ties.

  17. Structure • Unlike the House, real power in the Senate lies with the Senate Majority Leader. • TN Senator was Senate Majority Leader for 10 years

  18. The Committee System • Committee chairs, representatives who chair the standing committees of the House and Senate, wield a lot of power • Committee chairs selected as a result of the seniority system. • Four types of committees exist in both houses • Standing committees deal with proposed bills and are permanent, existing from one Congress to the next.

  19. The Committee System • Examples of standing committees are Banking, Foreign Affairs, Energy, Governmental Affairs, and Appropriations • Select committees are specially created and conduct special investigations. Ex: Watergate Committee, Whitewater affair • Joint committees are made up of both houses for the purpose of coordinating investigations/special studies and to expedite business between both houses.

  20. The Committee System • Conference committees resolve legislative differences between the House and Senate. • Ex: Crime Bill of 1994 and Welfare Reform Act of 1996 had to go through a conference committee. • Many bills must be resolved in this manner. • Committee makeup is determined by the percentage of party representation in each house.

  21. The Committee System • Each house has a party system that organizes and influences the members of Congress regarding policymaking decisions. • Majority and minority leaders of both houses organize their members using whips (assistant floor leaders). • Whips are responsible for keeping party members in line and having an accurate count of who will be voting for/against a bill.

  22. Policymaking • The avenues taken by Congress to achieve policymaking go beyond the mere passage of legislation. • Congress has legislative and nonlegislative responsibilities. • Constitutional amendments, election of a president and vice president if there is no electoral college majority, impeachment, approval of executive appointments, and congressional oversight are used by Congress to influence and determine public policy.

  23. Policymaking • The most important function of Congress is the legislative responsibility. • Understanding how a bill becomes a law (see next slide) • If the president vetoes the bill, Congress must vote separately to determine whether each house has a two-thirds majority to override it.

  24. Policymaking • 3 kinds of legislative actions taken by Congress: -Distributive: results in the distribution of goods and/or services to the general population (highways, health research) -Redistributive legislation: involves taking money from one segment of the population from taxes and giving it back to another through entitlements such as welfare. -Regulatory legislation- sets limits on groups and individuals, through acts such as Clean Air and Water Act

  25. Lobbyists and Interest Groups • Lobbyists and interest groups have grown in importance as a major influence in the passage of legislation. • If Congress is supposed to be the people’s representative, then the extent of the influence of special interests is a very important question.

  26. Constituency • Constituency relationships provide essential information and services and are the foundation for reelection. • Members of Congress must represent their districts, taking into account individual constituents (the people of an area or district who vote for their congressman and are represented by him/her for the congressional period), organized interests, and the district as a whole.

  27. Reform • The public gives Congress the lowest approval rating, yet every election they send a majority of incumbents back to Congress. • Gridlock is problem- Congress is seen as inefficient • Congress does not reflect the views of its constituents • Representatives take advantage of their perks • Representatives are so busy running for office, that they become beholden to special interest groups and PACS • Congress either delegates too much power to the executive or has tried to take control, becoming an imperial Congress

  28. Contract with America • Look up the Contract with America and write down the ten items that the contract promised the American people.

  29. Short answer essay due Monday • Political scientists have described Congress as “imperial” in its relationship with the president in regard to formulation of domestic and/or foreign policy. -Define “Imperial Congress” -Give two examples of how Congress has become imperial in its relationship to the president since 1976, using either domestic or foreign policy to illustrate your answer.