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Week 2: Congress. Essay Feedback and work at home 20 mins : Q and A summary & Mind map Update: Supreme Court 20 mins : Revision: What is Congress and its functions? 20 mins : The Powers and Importance of Congress: Analysis (essay discussion content) PP lecture with worksheet

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Week 2 congress
Week 2: Congress

  • Essay Feedback and work at home

  • 20 mins: Q and A summary & Mind map Update: Supreme Court

  • 20 mins: Revision: What is Congress and its functions?

  • 20 mins: The Powers and Importance of Congress: Analysis (essay discussion content) PP lecture with worksheet

  • 15 mins: Essay Planning with q and a

  • 25 mins: Timed Essay

  • 5 mins: Homework: Essay 2 (Congress) and Revision activity

20 mins mindmap update
20 mins: Mindmap update

Return to your mind map and update:

  • Supreme Court

  • Constitution

  • Congress

  • The Presidency

  • Elections

  • Political Parties and Pressure Groups

  • Judiciary

20 mins what is congress
20 mins What is Congress?

  • Complete the worksheet’ Roles and Functions of Congress’

  • For Homework:

  • Complete the remaining questions

The powers and importance of congress
The Powers and Importance of Congress

  • Powers/ Strengths:

  • Has power to ‘coin money’

  • Different houses have different powers

  • Senate –ratify treaties, try cases of impeachment ,elect vice president if deadlock in electoral college

  • House of Reps: initiate money bills, impeachment (e.g: Bill Clinton, 1998, 3 federal judges, 1980’s) elect president if electoral college is deadlocked. (only been used twice in 1820/1824)

  • Bill Clintons Impeachment

  • (See article on gun law reform, Obama)

  • Both houses pass legislation, over ride presidents veto, initiate amendments to constitution, declare war, confirm new vice president. In 2006, Donald Rumsfeld resigned. Bush had to get approval of senate to appoint Gates

Week 2 congress

  • Both houses are co equal: both pass legislation, all bills pass both houses.

  • Can over ride presidents veto by 2/3rs majority (e.g: in 2007, Congress over rode Bushs water resources bill)

  • Can approve constitutional amendments by 2/3rds majority

  • Both houses must agree on declaration of war (only five times, last: 1941 –WW2 against Japan)

  • Both Houses are clearly ‘separate’ unlike British system*

  • Serve set times, unlike British MP’s (house -2 rs, senate -6)

  • Senate as more Powerful?

  • Bennett (2009) Mckay (2010) Argue that the senate can be seen as more powerful and prestigious than the House of Reps………

  • Senators represent the entire state

  • Senators serve longer terms

  • Only 100 senators

  • More likely to chair a committee or hold leadership position

Week 2 congress

  • Senators get more media and global recognition (Obama, pre election)

  • Seen as recruiting pool for vice/presidents (16 presidents were senators inc: Nixon, Truman, Johnson, Obama)

  • *Clinton was a State Governor, before becoming President

  • House members frequently to get elected to Senate

  • Have exclusive powers (ratify foreign treaties, global powers, try cases of impeachment)

  • Not as powerful?

  • (Nader, 2002) Both houses have equal legislative power

  • Both houses approve constitutional amendments

  • Both house members have equal salaries *

  • Senate members lose seats easily, have to satisfy local vote to get re elected, house members are re elected more

Congress election)

  • Weaknesses:

  • Some powers are vague ‘to provide for general welfare of the US’

  • Congress is often in a state of ‘gridlock’ in US system like a ‘tug of war’. If houses are dominated by one party, at loggerheads with President and each party due to equal legislative powers (see tug of war clip).

  • Does not allow for radical politics like UK (ie: Welfare reforms, 1945)

  • Tug of War

  • (UK is less gridlocked as commons initiates legislation)

  • Ex: Obama Health Care Bill was blocked by Congress , took to supreme court and upheld.* (see handout)

  • However, US has had periods of radicalism (1970’s,: Abortion, civil rights movement)

Week 2 congress
Current Party Political Composition of Congress election)How could the current composition of congress cause problems for Barack Obama?

Week 2 congress

  • Majority party redraws electoral boundaries to congress to gain power/seats (similar to Labour, UK, pre 97) ‘Gerrymandering’

  • Most members of congress have been white, mid class. Only recent increase in women (Democrats) & ethnic minorities

  • Members not representative: mostly lawyers

  • Have a whip system similar to UK

  • 20th Century been a growth in committees: fewer people for pressure groups to lobby *

  • Public Opinion, party pressure and pressure groups mean few bills are passed (static , gridlock system)

  • Noam Chomsky (2011) argues ‘Congress is controlled by pressure groups not voters ’

Essay 25 mins 25 marks
Essay ‘25 mins’ 25 marks gain power/seats (similar to Labour, UK, pre 97) ‘Gerrymandering’

  • Media Search: Find examples to use in this essay, add to diary

  • Essay:

  • Outline and discuss what is meant by ‘gridlock’ in the US Congressional System. (25 mins)

  • Intro: Outline the functions of the supreme court (2-4 mins)

  • Discussion: Outline what is meant by gridlock. Discuss different roles of house/senate. Powers of senate and congress. Strengths and weaknesses.

  • Include examples and one from your media diary

  • Conclusion: Summarise key arguments, comparisons with UK. Decide what argument to finish on, Stay objective in tone!

Homework gain power/seats (similar to Labour, UK, pre 97) ‘Gerrymandering’

  • Essay:

    Members of Congress are more concerned with local issues than with national or international issues.’ Discuss How significant is the role of political parties within Congress? (25 marks, 25 mins)

  • Complete a chart outlining powers and merits of congressional system, versus criticisms, add examples

  • Update your media diary

  • Make sure you finish the worksheet on ‘Congress Roles and Functions’