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Chapter 7 Congress

Chapter 7 Congress

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Chapter 7 Congress

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  1. If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of progress? Chapter 7 Congress

  2. Bicameral advantages: • More careful consideration of legislation • Small and large states satisfied • Lobbying becomes more costly and difficult • Unicameral advantages: • Simplified bill passage • Greater scrutiny of the legislation, more transparent, less opportunities for blatant conflicts of interest • Easier to cooperate with executive • Greater efficiency • Greater responsibility and accountability of legislators Bicameral vs unicameral

  3. The textbook states that the “Framers expected that House members would be ore responsible to the people”, in part because “they would be up for reelection every two years.” The political theory behind this comes from John Locke. Legislators who may soon find themselves to be returned to civilian life would be less likely to allow the government to establish arbitrary powers that they soon will be exposed to. By having senators selected directly by legislatures, these senators would be held responsible by the state governments. Congress under the Constitution

  4. “No bill, or proposed law, can become law without the consent of both houses.” Congress legislates – formal powers to make laws Presidents issue executive orders IE elimination of the Fairness Doctrine, desegregation of the military Bureaucrats develop policies to deal with issues in the implementation of laws passed by Congress. This is known as administrative law. A variation of the “necessary and proper” clause. Courts render opinions, interpret laws, judicial review Congress

  5. Know the information in this table. Be able to identify which is which. To help you remember some of these, remember that the Senate is smaller and the House is larger and more proportional to the population. Fewer Senators but a similar number of committees, Senators need to be generalists while Representatives are more specialized. Remember that the House of Representatives is determined by population as preferred by the wealthy Southern states – therefore they hold the purse strings. Senators were originally selected by the legislatures of what were considered sovereign states. Therefore, Senators have the right of consent of Presidential appointments, trade agreements, and treaties. Table 7.2 page 231

  6. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the way to wealth was through corrupt state governments. The US Congress was a training camp for state legislatures. As the Federal government gained more power over state governments through the 20th century, this resume building exercise reversed. Follow the money

  7. Name recognition – Amazingly, uninformed voters have a tendency to select a name that they recognize. Credit claiming – able to show what they have done Casework – helping individual constituents, Ted Kennedy and John McCain Franking privileges – free mailings to constituents Access to media – helps name recognition Ease in fund-raising – easier for an incumbent to convince a donor of the legitimacy of their candidacy Experience in running a (successful) campaign Gerrymandered districts incumbency

  8. There is a learning curve with any job. Would a higher rate of turnover provide more Congressmen that are still learning the ropes? Lobbyists are only too happy to take a freshman Congressman under their wing and help them out with complicated issues like writing bills. While most Americans are dissatisfied with Congress, they often approve of the actions of their own Congressmen. Often Congressmen get elected by running against the institution, suggesting that Congress is an evil institution, but they will clean it up for us. Minority parties will often push for throwing out incumbents. If you are in the minority and every incumbent loses, it would follow that you would then be in the majority. Safe seats also play a role in the call for the elimination of incumbents. Think about incumbency

  9. Bear in mind suspect classifications and strict scrutiny. The courts tend to be much more vigilant to redistricting that occurs in states that have racial and segregation issues in the past. What then, would be the difference between gerrymandering that takes race into consideration to reduce representation for minorities and gerrymandering that does it to increase representation? Could proportional representation go a long way toward fixing this problem? gerrymandering

  10. Know the leadership positions and who holds them. Note: a typo on the chart. Under the majority leader it should say majority whips. Party line votes: A great many Americans vote for a party rather than their knowledge of the candidates position. The leadership could, in theory, be ensuring that the members are doing what they were voted in to do (delegate). On the other hand, a powerful leadership can make very real coercive threats to Congressmen. They may feel compelled to vote for/against legislation that, as a trustee, would feel inclined to vote the opposite line. Should this kind of pressure be legal? Is it bribery? Extortion? If the Speaker or the Whip are pulling the strings of members, who is pulling their strings? Know the leadership structure of congress

  11. Standing committee – More or less permanent, similar to Cabinet departments. Joint committee – standing committees that have members from both Houses of Congress. The Joint Committee on Taxation – 5 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Conference committee – To come up with a compromise between House and Senate versions of a bill. Select committee – Temporarily set up to solve a specific problem. Committee system – know these

  12. To this point we have discussed the fact that with the convoluted and fragmented nature of the American political system it is much harder to get something done than to prevent something from being done. We covered this concept in discussing Hacker and Pierson and interest groups. Think about the many points in the process of a bill becoming a law in which a single individual has the power to stop the process. With all of the holds, filibusters, and powerful chairmen of committees and subcommittees in both Houses of Congress, we can see how a group or individual who has the resources can find a way to prevent passage of reform legislation if they really wanted to. Veto points

  13. “The peculiar institutions of American democracy that we looked at in the last chapter reinforce the exceptional advantages of organized groups. Our institutions were designed to fragment power among multiple sites of political authority-local, state, and federal; legislatures, presidents, and courts. Stasis rather than change is the natural expectation.” Hacker and Pierson

  14. One-man filibuster draws fire: A jobless benefits bill expires, reducing funds for healthcare and federal projects. March 02, 2010|By James Oliphant “Reporting from Washington — The federal government Monday began to furlough workers, while hundreds of thousands of jobless Americans nationwide braced for an end of their unemployment checks and health insurance benefits -- the result of a one-man roadblock for a Senate spending bill. At the center of the drama, which began to unfold late last week, is Sen. Jim Bunning, a Kentucky Republican who single-handedly blocked a bill that would have provided a short-term extension for a bundle of federal funding programs that expired Monday.” Senatorial hold Interesting story: Bunning fell out of favor with the Senate leadership and was primarried out of office. This hold occurred after his funding had dried up and he had no hope of reelection.

  15. “crosses a parliamentary bridge of sighs” • Discharge petition in the House. One of these was going to be issued in the case of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Chairman released the bill to save face. • A bill faces numerous committees and powerful committee chairman, many of whom have the power to veto the legislation. • Chairmen can kill a bill just by refusing to hold hearings on it. • Majority take a larger share of the seats in important committees. • If a majority is voted in, is it following the will of the people to have an issue debated by a “gang of six” or “gang of eight”? • Easier to get things done in a small group • Less reflective of proportional representation. Legislative process

  16. “Can come from the president, executive agencies, committee staffs, interest groups, or even private individuals. Can only be formally submitted by members of Congress. 111th Congress: 10,000 bills submitted, only 5% made it into law. Unusually prolific House. Held up by Senate filibusters. Proposals for legislation

  17. Understand how a bill becomes a law and the hundreds of potential veto points that exist. Chairmen of committees, chairmen of subcommittees, staff members who advise these Congressmen, and positions of leadership can all place a stop on legislation. To defeat a bill, opponents can add an amendment that makes it intolerable for proponents. This could find Congressmen voting against the bill that they originally introduced. 240-247

  18. “In 1964, for example, a group of northern liberal senators continued a filibuster for eighty-two days in an effort to prevent amendments that would weaken a civil rights bill.” I had no idea where O’Connor, et al came up with this one. Webpage “The Democrat Party's Long and Shameful History of Bigotry and Racism.” Filibuster by Southern Conservative Democrats was successful until the language was toned down regarding gender discrimination. Page 246

  19. Sign the bill – becomes law • President waits 10 days – becomes law • President vetoes bill – does not become law • Congress overrides the veto 2/3s each chamber – becomes law: DOMA had the votes • President waits ten days and if the Congress is not in session the unsigned legislation receives a “pocket veto” and has to go through the process again. 4 responses to a bill by the President

  20. In the late 19th century, government revenues were predominantly in the form of tariffs. • Found favor with monopolistic industries as it reduced competition. • Provided revenue surpluses that could then be turned to providing political favors for supporters in the way of jobs and government contracts. • This was a regressive form of taxation that failed to gain support for a countervailing power. • This period was one of high levels of government corruption. Budgetary function

  21. Ratified in 1913 Income Tax Act of 1894 was declared unconstitutional (5-4) in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co. (1895) The kind of spending that had been possible under the surpluses of tariff revenues now required higher levels of income tax revenues, increased borrowing by the treasury, or decreased levels of spending. Leaving this to the multiple interest groups influencing Congress makes the usual sausage mill of legislation impractical to produce a budget in a timely manner. 16th Amendment

  22. Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 • Office of Management and Budget (OMB) • Congressional Budget Act of 1974 • Congressional Budget Office (CBO) • Reconciliation – limits the Senate to 20 hours of debate circumventing the possibility of a filibuster. The book mentions that the health care reform bill was passed through reconciliation. It should be noted that the Bush tax cuts were also passed through reconciliation. There were also revenue bills passed nearly every year of the Reagan and George HW Bush administrations through reconciliation. Presidential influence of the budget

  23. “In 2010, House Republicans tried to impose a moratorium on earmarks.” Republicans controlled both Houses from 1995-2006. Do Republicans seem to be the party opposed to earmarks? Earmarks

  24. Bureaucracy interprets laws and implements those legislative decisions. Bureaucrats who disagree with the legislation can avoid implementation. IE regulators who disagree with regulations can turn a blind eye to those ignoring regulations. Congress holds the purse strings to these agencies and can withhold funding for agencies that they see as not doing their job or overreaching. The current Congress can cut funding to an agency that is implementing laws put in place by a previous Congress. Funding or its removal is a way of changing or repealing a law without necessarily repealing the law. IE unable to repeal health care reform, Congress simply refuses to provide the funding necessary for implementation. Oversight function

  25. Filibusters for confirmation hearings becoming more common. President unable to fill positions necessary to run the government due to obstructionist tactic by a minority. What does this mean: If a corrupt bureaucracy has effectively joined an “iron triangle” or subgovernment as depicted in plural-elitist theory, a new director may pose a threat to this cozy relationship. For example, energy companies will fight hard to prevent the installation of any individual that they believe would intend to regulate the industry. This forces the President to either leave the position vacant, or to nominate a candidate more favorable to industry. Senate confirmations In effect, the Senate filibuster is being utilized to prevent the President from addressing a significant source of government corruption and doing his job. On the other hand a filibuster that keeps out someone with a conflict of interests could be seen in the same light.

  26. Trustee: Listens to constituents then reasons through proposals and information to provide the best outcomes for constituents. Delegate: Knows how their constituents feel about an issue and votes that way regardless of personal feelings or experience. Note: It is nearly impossible to know what constituents feel regarding legislation. Politico: Shifts back and forth between these two positions. Decision process

  27. Political parties: Tom DeLay “The Hammer”. DeLay organized the effort to link K Street lobbyists directly with Republican Congressmen. This was done in an open and blatant manner. Delay was convicted “on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering for using a political action committee to illegally send corporate donations to Texas House candidates in 2002.” Some of his former aides also were convicted in the Abramhoff Scandal. This is the person who strong-armed moderate Republicans to vote for impeachment against Bill Clinton for a consensual sex act. If the Speaker of the House has sufficient power to leverage campaign finances and threaten with a primary challenge, has the party become little more than pawns of the powerful? Should this be legal? influences

  28. Divided government: Most common, very little gets done. A period of “drift” (Hacker and Pierson) or “incrementalism” (Baumgartner and Jones). Major reforms of the system are nearly impossible. Unified government: One party has a political monopoly and is able to implement significant policy reforms. Looking at unified governments over the last 100 years: influences

  29. Democrats Woodrow Wilson 1913-1919 – World War I, progressive taxation FDR 1933-1945* World War II, New Deal legislation Harry Truman 1949-1953 Korean War, the Marshall Plan, desegregation of the military, NATO, UN, and Truman Doctrine JFK and LBJ 1961-1969* - Vietnam, Civil Rights, and the Great Society legislation. Carter 1977-1981* stagflation of the late 1970s, high unemployment and inflation but strong economic growth when inflation is factored in. Iranian Revolution and hostages. * denotes enough of a majority in the Senate to defeat a filibuster Unified governments

  30. Republicans: Harding, Coolidge, Hoover 1921-1931 All 10 years with Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon. Laissez-faire policies of tax cuts and deregulation, led to The Great Depression. George W Bush 2003-2007 Iraq War, Laissez-faire policies of tax cuts and deregulation, led to The Great Recession. Unified governments

  31. Bush used the bully pulpit in the districts of Democratic Congressmen. Obama used it in Democratic districts as well. Obama got health care reform passed, but lost the Congress. Bush lost on trying to privatize social security, but kept his Congressional majority. Strategically, which would be the better use of the bully pulpit? Bully pulpit

  32. Congressmen vote on what they perceive to be preferences of constituents, but often tend to visit places at home where the people agree with them. Constituency work: If you ever work for a Congressman in an internship, this will be a large part of your job, navigating red tape and putting constituents in touch with the agencies that can help them. Ted Kennedy and John McCain were both well known for their constituency work. constituents

  33. “Studies by political scientists show that members vote in conformity with prevailing opinion in their districts about two-thirds of the time.” Yet they vote with their party 90% of the time. “It is rare for a legislator to vote against the wishes of his or her constituents regularly…” Yet in recent months we are seeing significant support for raising tax rates on wealthier Americans and leaving Medicare and Social Security intact. If you are a Congressman who simply wants to keep his job, do you follow the wishes of the general public who are unlikely to ever care enough to find out how you voted and may or may not vote? Or do you heed the demands of those with the resources to remove you from office for failing to vote the way you are supposed to, and who will, in fact, know exactly how you voted? Constituents vs party

  34. The dirty little secret of Congress – Congressmen will often be called upon to vote for something that they know little about and care even less about. Forget about deliberation, what is the best deal I can get for my ambivalent vote? Logrolling : I’ll gladly vote for your bill on Tuesday for a vote for my bill today. Colleaugues and caucuses

  35. Done to death so enjoy these cartoons. Interest groups, lobbyists, PACs

  36. Freshmen Congressmen with little political experience or knowledge are the most susceptible to influence from staff and support agencies and the least likely to question perceived expertise. We discussed how we come to decisions. We receive information, we have an emotional response to that information, and we form an opinion based on the information and our emotional response. Staff and support agencies, by providing information (perhaps selectively) can provide the politician with a ready made opinion that they believe to be their own. Staff and support agencies