Ch. 10 - Congress “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were elected to Congress… but I repeat myself.” -Mark Twain
Back to Chapter 1 for a sec… • What kind of democracy do we live in? • So the people rule, but they don’t make public policy • Who does make it?
Bicameral Congress • Our Congress is bicameral, meaning it has two houses • The larger house, which is supposedly the “common man’s house,” is the House of Representatives • The smaller house, which is for “the elite” of America is the Senate
Members of the House of Representatives • Official title is “Representative So and So…” • Also called “congressman or congresswoman” • There are 435 congressmen • Congressmen are elected to a term of 2 years
The House of Representatives House of Reps.
Members of the Senate • Official title is “Senator So and So” • There are 100 Senators (2 from each state) • Senators are elected to a term of 6 years
The Senate The Senate
Basic Information • Since you get new congressmen every 2 years, we call each 2 year period a “term” of Congress • The terms are numbered consecutively… the one that ended Dec. 2010 was the 112th Congress • The one that is in session now is called the 112th Congress
Basic Information • A session of Congress is all the time it takes to finish their business for the year • So how many sessions are there in a term of Congress? Two!
Seats in the House • Seats are apportioned (given out) to each state based on population • Every 10 years seats are reapportioned after the census, when a new count of the population is taken • Ever since 1929, the number has been 435 (Reapportionment Act)
Seats in the House • Every state divides itself into districts based on the number of seats apportioned to the state • For example, Arizona is given 8 seats based on our population. Upon the next apportionment, it will be 9…
What Does it Take to be in the House? I am in the house, and the things like that. • 25 years old • U.S. citizen for at least 7 years • Must live in the state you are elected in
1 Year from now… “Mr. Toro” Congress 2012 “Pointing to a brighter tomorrow”
Off-Year Elections That really stinks, yo. • In the election years where there is no presidential election (2002, 2006), the president’s party usually loses seats in Congress
Seats in the Senate • There will always be 2 seats per state in the Senate • 50 States = 100 Senators
What Does it Take to be in the Senate? • 30 Years Old • U.S. Citizen for 9 Years • Must live in the state you are elected in
5 Years from now… “Mr. Toro” Senate 2016 A “Slam-Dunk” for our State!
Foreign Perspectives Questions for President Bush from a Venezuelan Journalist Are artificial sweetners safe? Are you sure there are WMDs in Iraq? Did Anna Nicole marry for love?
Comparing the House and the Senate • Originally, congressmen were elected by the public, and Senators were elected by the state legislatures • Founding Fathers did not trust the public with all power • 17th Amendment has since changed Senate elections to a public vote
Comparing the House and the Senate • Senators have a much longer term • Entire House is elected at once, while only 1/3 of Senate is chosen at a time • House members appeal to one small district, Senators appeal to entire state
The Big Question? WHY???
Founding Fathers’ Intent • The Founding Fathers wanted to have one house that would quickly respond to the desires of the public (House of Reps) • And one house that would be moderate, and stop any crazy nonsense the House would try (Senate)
Demographics of Congress • Congress is not at all demographically representative of the U.S. population • For example…
U.S. Males – 49% Females – 51% Congress Males – 86% Females – 14% Demographics of Congress
U.S. White – 75% Black – 12% Hispanic – 13% Asian – 4% Native – 1% *Many people qualify as more than 1 race Congress White – 87% Black – 7% Hispanic – 4% Asian – 1% Native – 0.6% Demographics of Congress
U.S. Millionaires – 0.7% Non-Millionaires – 99.3% Congress Millionaires – 29% Non-Millionaires – 71% Demographics of Congress