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The United States Congress

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  1. The United States Congress I’m so confused! If the opposite of “pro” is “con,” does that mean that the opposite of progress is Congress?

  2. The United States Congress The first branch of government, Article I of the Constitution;main roles—legislate, oversee the performance of government agencies, provide services to constituents

  3. The United States Congress Students, I am Speaker of the House, John Boehner. Why were the results of the 2010 United States congressional elections, taken as a whole, considered an earthquake?

  4. The United States Congress GOP took 60 seats from Democrats in House of Representatives Democrats <200 seats GOP took 6 Senate seats from Democrats What factors can explain those significant Democratic losses in 2010?

  5. The United States Congress I’m former Speaker and now Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi. There are two of the four reasons indicated below. • President Obama’s placating of Blue Dog • Democrats led to watered-down bills that • disappointed the liberal base of the party. • Democrats did not publicize the good they had • done and failed to focus on jobs. • more

  6. The United States Congress Here are the final two reasons. • The Tea Party factor coupled with a general • disillusioned and disappointed Democratic • base • Huge advantage GOP enjoyed in campaign • finance, particularly in independent spending • on issue advertising

  7. The United States Congress Form into small groups and discuss the constitutional foundations of the modern Congress. Article I, Section 8—enumerated powers and the elastic clause Article I, Section 9--limitations

  8. The United States Congress Article I, Section 8: “Congress shall have Power To. . .make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

  9. The United States Congress The Constitution prevents the Senate from doing several things. For example: Congress cannot pass ex post facto laws, bills of attainder or suspend the writ of habeas corpus.Can anyone define those terms?

  10. The United States Congress Ex Post Facto Law: a law that applies to an action that took place before the law was passed Bill of Attainder: a law that punishes a person who has not been convicted in a court of law Writ of Habeas Corpus: a court order requiring police to bring all persons accused of a crime to court and to show sufficient reason to keep them in jail

  11. I am Senator Daniel Inouye from Hawaii. Every 6 years since 1962 the people of Hawaii have elected me to the United Stated Senate—I am now, at age 87, the longest serving member of the Senate. Because I am also in the majority party, I am the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.Why did the Founders specify that senators be elected by state legislatures and not the people? The United States Congress

  12. The United States Congress The objective was to insulate one house of Congress from popular pressures and to make it a seat of deliberation and reflection. The use of the Senate is to consist in its proceeding with more coolness. . . And with more wisdom than the popular branch.

  13. The United States Congress • I’m Congressman Jeff Denham from California’s 19th District. Under the Constitution, the requirements to be a Member of Congress are: • 25 years old • U. S. citizen for at least 7 years, and • A legal resident of the state they represent • Members are elected every 2 years

  14. The United States Congress Members of the House earn $174,000 a year and are given office space both in Washington and in their districts and allowances to hire an office staff based on the distance from Washington to the center of the district.I am also given money for stationery, supplies and other necessary items.

  15. The United States Congress I am Senator Diane Feinstein, from California. Senators differ considerably from Members of the House in many areas, although their salaries are the same.ButSenators serve for 6 years, must be 30 years old, and must have been a citizen of the U.S. for 9-yearsbefore they can be elected.

  16. The United States Congress I am Senator Barbara Boxer, also from California. There are no term limits on members of Congress, although many states, like California, have them on their state legislators.

  17. The United States Congress One of the key issues of being a legislator: are you a delegate or a trustee? British author Edmund Burke(1729-1797): delegate—always vote the way the majority of your constituents want you to; trustee—people elect you to vote in line with your ownconscience—they trust you to make the right decisions. Burke favored the trustee

  18. The United States Congress Students, please tell us some aspects of the demographic backgrounds of members of Congress.

  19. The United States Congress Despite recent gains, women and racial minorities underrepresented Hispanics—largest minority group in US— very low representation Women—1992 “year of the woman” 111th Congress: 77 H; 17 S Better educated than rest of population 75% legal or business backgrounds Most career politicians/civil servants Women: introduce more bills related to women’s/children’s issues

  20. The United States Congress I am Dennis Cardoza, the Member of Congress representing California’s 18th District. How does your textbook define the terms constituents? Constituents are residents of a Member’s district or state—they can be citizens or non-citizens; voters or non-voters; adults or children.

  21. The United States Congress Hello constituents. Jeff Denham again. Many of you live in my district. Who can tell me how state representation in the House is determined? The 19th District, like all districts, was determined based on the census and apportioned by Congress. What is a census? What does apportioned mean? Census: the official population count. Apportioned: House seats are distributed based on the census; reapportioned every 10 years

  22. The United States Congress Since the 1910 census, there have been435 votingmembers of Congresswithat least one from each state.Again, House membership per state is based on population. Right now, our California delegation has 53 seats. There are also5 non-voting seats: Puerto Rico, Guam, the American Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Washington, D. C.

  23. The United States Congress On the average, each Memberof the House of Representativesrepresents about 646,952 people. State legislatures draw the districtsin the state, trying to average around 650,000 people per district. Based on reapportionment, state legislatures redistrict every 10 years—change district boundaries.

  24. The United States Congress Barbara Boxer again. Sometimes state legislatures create weird-looking congressional districts in order to preserve the majority party’s power in Congress. The technique for drawing such boundaries is called gerrymandering, named after the founding father, Elbridge Gerryof Mass.

  25. The United States Congress Chief Justice John Roberts again. How has the Supreme Court weighed in with regard to district boundaries? Baker v. Carr (1962) Voters have the right to challenge how state legislatures allocate legislative seats and such questions could be considered in federal courts. Essentially, we have gone along with the old adage: “to the victor belong the spoils.”

  26. The United States Congress I am former Congressman Tom DeLay of Texas. What does the phrase “cracking a district” mean? A party does not want a district with too great of a majority (wastes votes). It chooses to draw congressional district boundaries to spread its popular strength across two or more districts in hopes of winning more seats in the state’s congressional delegation. Validated by United Latin American Citizens v. Perry (2006)

  27. The United States Congress Edward Greenberg, one of your textbook’s authors again. What is incumbent-protection re-districting and what have been its affect has been on House membership Majority parties in state legislatures redrawing congressional district boundaries to protect incumbents of a particular party. It has become so extensive that in 2008, only about 75 out of 435 seats were competitive—winning margin 5% or less (100/435 in 2010). Has contributed to partisan divide in Congress.

  28. The United States Congress Thank you, Dr. Greenberg. So what are majority-minority districts and how did the Supreme Court’s decision in Hunt v. Cromartie(2001) affect them? Majority-minority districts are congressional districts drawn to ensure that a racial minority comprises the majority of voters. Today there are 15 with African-American majorities and 9 with Hispanic majorities. Hunt v. Cromartie(2001) ruled that race can be a significant factor in drawing district lines “so long as it is not the dominant or controlling one.”

  29. The United States Congress Since World War II, on average, 93% of House incumbents and 80% of Senate incumbents have won re-election. So incumbents definitely have advantages. What are some of them? Name recognition, the redistricting process, franking privileges (free postage), time spent in the district*, and political “war chests”—built-up contributions from people, organizations and Political Action Committees (PAC)—committees focusing on particular issues that back political candidates. *Most congressional business: Tue-Thu

  30. The United States Congress Hello, I amSenator Mitch McConnell and I am the Republican, or Minority, Leader of the Senate.Another advantage incumbents have is case work. What is that? Members of Congress receive more than 200 million pieces of mail each year.These include: Requests for flags flown over the capital Opinions on issues facing Congress/ urging the member to vote a certain way Requesting help with the Federal bureaucracy Military or veterans issues Asking for a Congressional Record insert

  31. The United States Congress Senator Daniel Inouye again. Incumbents can also use pork barrel legislation. What is that? Pork-barrel legislation: federally funded projects designed to bring to the constituency jobs and public money for which Members of Congress can claim credit. They are also referred to as “earmarks.”

  32. The United States Congress Some of you may know that I worked as an aide for Senator John Warner of Virginia from December 1994 until August 1996. During that time, I worked several constituent issues. I’ll now share some of those with you. Often people ask for the Member to put something in theCongressional Record—the official and verbatim(exact)record of what is said each day in both houses.

  33. The United States Congress To begin this second section, I’m going to ask you the last question first. After reading the entire section what can you summarize about who makes things happen in both houses of Congress? Over the years, congressional party leaders have amassed the vast majority of power in Congress. Therefore, decisions as to who becomes Speaker, Majority Leader and even Minority Leader are very important.

  34. The United States Congress I am Senator Harry Reid from Nevada, the Majority Leader of the U. S. Senate. In the same vein as what Speaker Boehner just asked, what is the role of the party conference (party caucus)? All the members of a political party in a given house of Congress meet at the beginning of a session (January) and elect leaders, approve committee assignments (including committee/ subcommittee chairs) and reach agreement on the legislative goals for the session.

  35. The United States Congress I am Senator Mitch McConnell from Kentucky, the Minority Leader of the U. S. Senate. How partisan is congressional voting today? Congressional voting is highly partisan. Party affiliation is the best predictor for voting behavior in Congress. Partisanship has been rising steadily since the early 1970s and is evident today in about 90% of votes. Consequently, bipartisan agreements is becoming more difficult.

  36. The United States Congress So Harry, members closely adhere to party lines. Mitch, exactly why is partisanship increasing in Congress? Changing regional bases of parties--for example, the Deep South now predominantly GOP Partisan conflict is on the rise nationally—the electorate is more divided along party lines Ideology is a major reason—the fundamental ideas of the parties conflict.

  37. The United States Congress Some history on Congress before going further Prior to 1958: Conservative coalition era Oligarchy of senior leaders Safe seats Southern Democrats & Republicans of NE & NW Powerful committee chairs Hostile to activist presidents (Truman & Civil Rights)

  38. The United States Congress 1958 election: More liberals Lyndon Johnson rose to leadership of Democratic (majority) Party

  39. The United States Congress Johnson began a “power earthquake” Power of old seniority system cut 1965-1978: Reform Era Post Vietnam & Watergate Leadership & decision-making open to a wider circle of players New House & Senate rules and procedures Folkways of Senate revamped Today: Post Reform Congress

  40. The United States Congress I’d like to discuss with you congressional leadership. What arefloor leaders and whips in the House of Representatives?

  41. The United States Congress House floor leaders: Speaker: presiding officer of the House; elected by whole House but reflects the majority party; second in line to presidency. John Boehner of Ohio. Extraordinary power.

  42. The United States Congress Majority leader: assistant to the Speaker and is the second-most-influential member of the House. Eric Cantor of VA Minority leader: the minority party’s chief Spokesperson. Nancy Pelosi of CA

  43. The United States Congress What are party whips in Congress? Party whips are Members whose main function is to monitor and influence how the party members vote on legislation. They form an intelligence network for the leaders. Republican: Kevin McCarthy of California Democratic: Steny Hoyer of Maryland

  44. The United States Congress How the House is structured

  45. The United States Congress The most powerful member of the Senate is the Majority Leader. The most important member of the minority party is the Minority Leader. Majority Leader: Sen. Harry Reid of NV. Minority Leader: Sen. Mitch McConnell of KY

  46. The United States Congress Our power is more informal—powers of persuasion and such. Yes, but remember my power is less visible. I don’t have nearly the power of the House Speaker. I have some influence on committee assignments and scheduling the business of the Senate, and over certain administrative matters.

  47. The United States Congress How the Senate is Structured

  48. The United States Congress Let’s discuss committees. Why has there been “a dramatic decline in the power of committees and of committee chairs in the legislative process?” As partisanship rose, more power became centered in the hands of the House Speaker and, to a lesser degree, the Majority Leader of the Senate. One major power in that regard is who is appointed as committee chairs and committee members. Those members are therefore beholden to the Speaker/Senate Majority Leader.

  49. The United States Congress Muchof the work of Congressmen and Senators is done in the various committees of each house.Why does Congress have committees?

  50. The United States Congress Students, I am Vice President Joe Biden, a former senator from Delaware. Congress has committees to help process the huge flow of business. Committees are also islands of specialization, where members and staff develop the expertise to handle complex issues and to meet executive branch experts on equal terms.