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Chapter 7: Congress at Work

Chapter 7: Congress at Work

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Chapter 7: Congress at Work

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  1. Chapter 7: Congress at Work

  2. A. Bills • Private Bills- deal with individual people or places. • Public Bills- apply to the nation as a whole and deal with general matters. i.e.- taxes, gun control, civil rights, health insurance.

  3. B. Types of Resolutions • Simple resolution- deals with matters affecting only one house, usually internal matters. • Joint resolutions- correct errors in earlier laws, appropriate money for particular purpose, or propose constitutional amendments. With the President’s signature it has the force of law. • Concurrent resolution- does not have the force of law, usually deals with internal House and Senate matters. No Presidential signature required.

  4. C. Riders • Something attached to a bill that is not related to the subject matter of the bill. • These are attached because lawmakers believe that the bill is likely to pass despite this. • “Christmas tree”- this term is used to describe a bill that is “loaded” with many ornaments that are unrelated to the bill.

  5. D. Pork barrel spending • This refers to spending that is intended to benefit constituents in return for votes or campaign contributions.

  6. State of the Union Address 2007: In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of the earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and the Senate; they're dropped into committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You didn't vote them into law. I didn't sign them into law. Yet they are treated as if they have the force of law. The time has come to end this practice. So let us work together to reform the budget process, expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress, and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half by the end of this session. Earmarks

  7. E. Filibuster • This is a way of “talking out” a bill in the Senate only and is intended to allow the minority party obstruct legislation. • It can be ended by a three-fifths vote for cloture. • This is why 60 senators for one party is called a filibuster proof majority. • Historically it has been used since ancient Rome and the rules have changed over time. • Filibuster rules are less strict today.

  8. What was the longest filibuster? • The longest filibuster in Senate history was Strom Thurmond’s in 1957 to oppose the Civil Rights Act. He did this for twenty-four hours and eighteen minutes.

  9. The use of cloture has greatly increased in the last 50 years.

  10. F. Congress Organizes • Speaker of the House: Leader of majority party and the elected presiding officer of the House. (They are expected to be fair and judicious but to also help their own party. ) a. Presides over sessions b. No one may speak until recognized by the speaker c. Interprets and applies formal rules, refers bills to committees, and calls for votes. d. Names members of all select and conference committees & signs bills and resolutions.

  11. G. Senate Organization • President of the Senate • Is the Vice President. Does not hold the same power as the speaker. • Only real duty is to break a tie. • President Pro Tempore Serves in the V. P.’s absence Floor leaders- majority and minority- help the presiding officer plan the order of business on the floor. Majority party has the real power.

  12. H. Leadership (cont) • Whip- Job of is to check with party members and advise the floor leader of votes- try to make sure members are present for votes or that absent members votes are cancelled out. • Committee chairman-head the committees- decide when committees will meet, what bills they will take up, whether to hold hearing and what witnesses should be called. • Seniority Rule- those with the longest time of service in are generally chosen for important posts- particularly in committees. Most chairmen have served at least 15 years.

  13. I. Committees in Congress • Standing Committees- Permanent groups that consider bills that are introduced. • House members can only serve on one and Senators can serve on two. The majority party holds the majority of seats on each committee. • House Rules Committee- before bills reach the floor they must clear this committee. They decide how the bill will be considered in the House.

  14. Select Committees- Special group set up for a limited time for a specific purpose- presiding officer selects members- typically formed to investigate some current matter. • Can investigate the president or other matters dealing with the federal government. • Joint committee- members of both houses- set up for many different reasons. • Conference committees- a temporary joint body created to fix the differences between a House and Senate version of a bill.

  15. How a Bill Becomes a Law: The House • ***How many bills are proposed each term? • 10,000 • What percentage become laws? • Less than 10% • Most bills originate- the ideas come from the executive branch-(Departments like agriculture, labor, business etc.) • Bills for raising revenue or taxes must originate in the House • Only members can introduce Bills in the House- drop it in the hopper.

  16. Steps in a Bill Becoming a Law • Standing Committee • Rules Committee • House Floor • Senate Floor • Conference committee • US President

  17. Composing a Bill Imagine that KMHS were to become a representative democracy and you are a member of the legislative branch. Your first duty is to compose a bill to address a particular issue. However, your bill must address a particular issue that is relevant to the school based on your committee membership.

  18. KMHS House and Senate Committees: 1. Lunch & Vending 2. Dress Code 3. Parking 4. Electronic Devices

  19. A. The First Reading • Bill is assigned a short title, entered into the House Journal and entered into the Congressional Record for the day. • The Speaker then refers the bill to the appropriate standing committee for consideration.

  20. B. The Bill in Committee • Subcommittees do most of the work. • Most bills die in committee. Options for the committee: • Report the bill favorably • Refuse to report or pigeonhole the bill • Report an amended bill • May report an entirely new bill

  21. C. Rules and Calendars • Bills must be place on a calendar, or schedules for deliberation. • Each bill must receive a rule, or approval to appear on the floor.

  22. D. The Bill on the Floor • The Committee of the Whole considers the most important bills • Debate- strict rules limit debate • Voting • Voice votes are the most common • A standing vote can be demanded from the Speaker. • 1/5 of the quorum may demand a teller vote. • Roll call vote can also be demanded.

  23. E. Final Steps • An approved bill is read a third time, voted on again, and signed by the Speaker. • Signed bill is then sent to the Senate president.

  24. F. The Bill in the Senate • Bill introduced, given number and title, read twice. • Bill referred to committee. • Majority leader calls bill to debate on floor. • Senators may use the filibuster to prevent a vote on a bill. • The Senate votes on the bill: if it pass, the bill then goes to the House.

  25. If the House passes a different version of a bill, a conference committee is formed. • The Conference committee works out a compromise version of the bill. • The bill is then sent to the President. • The Constitution gives the President four options: • Sign, veto, pocket veto, not sign within 10 days.

  26. Most bills die in committee • Joint committees • What can the President do when a bill is received from Congress? • Sign • Veto • Not-sign • Pocket veto (within 10 days of the end of a session)