Chapter 11: Congress • The People’s Branch • Congressional Elections A. House of Representatives (because they are up for reelection every 2 years, are more sensitive to the needs of their constituents) B. Senate (predictable/older/stable) House of Rep. (less predictable/younger)
C. Drawing district lines 1. House (states with more people get to have more districts, thus more power in the House) 2. Reapportionment (every 10 years U.S. Constitution requires a population count/Census. 3. Since 1910 (House at 435) 4. States determine redistricting.
5. Advantages of Incumbency 6. 2008 Congressional Elections: Democrats won five senate seats and nineteen house seats giving them a majority in both chambers. 7. Earmarks/Pork: “pet projects” Reps/Senators will slip into a bill an earmark for their district or state…perhaps as a favor to a contributor.
Henry Cuellar: U.S. Representative District 28
The 2003 Texas redistricting refers to a controversial mid-decade congressional redistricting plan appealed to the United States Supreme Court in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry. On June 28, 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the statewide redistricting as Constitutional, but struck down Congressional District 23 as racial gerrymandering in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Our two senators: Kay B. Hutchison R John Cornyn R
A Divided Branch The architecture and floor plan of the Capitol building in Washington reflect the bicameral division of Congress
Legislators as Lawmakers: Influences Philosophy and political convictions Voters Colleagues Congressional Staff Party Interest groups The President
The Structure and Powers of Congress (In U.S. Constitution/ Article One) A. A Divided Branch (bicameralism- a two house legislature. Each chamber meets in its own wing of the Capitol
Powers of Congress 1. Enumerated Powers (listed in U.S. Constitution) a. Raise, make and borrow money b. Regulate commerce (patents) c. Expand country/unify it d. Declare war e. Create federal courts
Chapter 11: Congress Continuation of Notes
III. Congressional Leadership A. House of Rep. (Leadership): Speaker of the House B. Senate (Leadership) 1. Real Leader: Majority Leader 2. Fillibuster 3. Senate: power to confirm presidential appointments (Cabinet/justices/federal judges) C. Congressional Committees: the most powerful committee in both the House and the Senate: House Rules Committee (this committee decides on what goes to the floor for debate/sets limits as to who goes to the floor to debate/persuade)
Types of Committees a. Standing Committees b. Appropriation Committees (decide how much money government will spend on certain programs) c. Budget Committees (they decide where/how to raise $ for the Appropriations Committee
3. Committee Leaders • From party in control (the party that holds the majority) • Based on seniority (who has been there the longest)
IV. The Job of the Legislator • Legislators as Representatives • Making legislative choices (on the average, 8,000 bills are introduced each session) 1. Controversial Issues (on the fence or do I make popular/unpopular choice) 2. Colleagues: Discuss/listen/argue/persuade Logrolling: When a rep. votes like his “friend” only because his “friend” is going to vote for his bill. (I scratch your back and you scratch mine)
Congressional Staff (in D.C. and at home) • Constituents (those that he/she represent) • Party lines • Interest Groups C. Legislative Ethics (Ethics Committees in House and Senate)
V. The Legislative Obstacle Course • There are 23 ways a bill can die (see page 336) • How does a bill become a law
An idea for a bill may come from anybody, however only Members of Congress can introduce a bill in Congress. Bills can be introduced at any time the House is in session.
After the idea for a bill is developed and the text of the bill is written, a Member of Congress must officially introduce the bill in Congress by becoming the bill's sponsor.
Bills can be introduced whenever the House is in session. • In the House, bills are officially introduced by placing them in a special box known as the hopper, which is located at the rostrum, or Speaker's platform. In the Senate, a bill is introduced by placing it on the presiding officer's desk or by formally introducing it on the Senate Floor.
The bill is referred to the appropriate committee. The 19 House standing committees and 16 Senate committees each have jurisdiction over different areas of public policy, such as agriculture, education and the workforce, and international relations. • The bill is placed on the committee's calendar. • The committee debates on and marks up the proposed bill, and may or may not make changes to it. • Committee members vote to accept or reject the changes made during the markup session. • If a bill includes many amendments, the committee may decide to introduce a "clean bill" with a new number. • The committee votes on the bill after it has been debated and/or amended. • A committee may stop action, or "table" a bill it deems unwise or unnecessary.
The bill is referred to a subcommittee, and placed on its calendar. • The bill is carefully studied. The subcommittee may hold hearings to obtain the views of experts, supporters, and opponents.
The bill is read by title only and put to a vote. • Members in attendance will vote to pass or not to pass the bill. • Members most often vote electronically in the House Chamber using the Electronic Voting System. Members of the Senate cast their votes by non-electronic means. • Members may vote "Yea" for approval, "Nay" for disapproval, or "Present" to record that they were in attendance but chose not to vote. • If a majority of the House votes to pass the bill, the bill is then referred to the Senate to undergo a similar process of approval.
If the President decides a bill is unwise or unnecessary, the President does not sign the bill: veto. • The President can veto a bill indirectly by withholding approval of the bill until Congress has adjourned sine die. This informal way of preventing a bill from becoming a law is called a pocket veto. • When the President issues a veto, the bill returns to its House of origin. • Objections to the veto are read and debated on the House Floor. • If there are enough objections in the House to the presidential veto, a vote is taken to override, or overrule, the veto.
Total vetoes in U.S. History (2,560) • Total overridden (109)
A two-thirds vote or greater is needed in both the House and the Senate to override the President's veto. If two-thirds of both houses of Congress vote successfully to override the veto, the bill becomes a law. • If the House and Senate do not override the veto, the bill "dies" and does not become a law.
In the current Congress, the 111th, there are: • African-American Members: 39 in House; 1 in Senate. • Hispanic-American Members: 24 in House; 3 in Senate • Asian-American Members: 6 in House; 1 in Senate • Native American Members: 2 in House; 0 in Senate
How many women Members are there in the U.S. Congress today? • In the House there are 75 female Representatives. The Senate has 17 females. These are the highest numbers of women Members in the history of the Congress. • Of the 17 female Senators, 13 are Democrats and 4 are Republicans. Of the 75 female Representatives, 58 are Democrats and 17 are Republicans. • Two of the women House members are sisters: Loretta Sanchez and Linda Sanchez, both Democrats from California.
What is the salary for Senators and Representatives? • House Members and all Senators .......... $169,300 • House and Senate Majority & Minority Leaders ......... $188,100 • Speaker of the House ............................................ $217,400
Who are the oldest Members of Congress and who are the youngest and what is the average age? • Members have gotten older! The average age of a House Member is now 56 years and for a Senator, 61.7 years.
Seven states have only one Representative, due to their low population. These Members represent their entire state and are formally known as "at-large" Members: • (1) Alaska(2) Delaware(3) Montana(4) North Dakota(5) South Dakota(6) Vermont(7) Wyoming
Which state has the most Representatives in Congress? Which has the least? • The number of representatives each state has is based on population of the state overall, with a total ceiling of 435 Members allowed in the House. That formula means that today, each Member of the House represents about 650,000 people. • Here are the top ten states: • (1) California (53 Members)(2) Texas (32)(3) New York (29)(4) Florida (25)(5) Pennsylvania (19)(6) Illinois (19)(7) Ohio (18)(8) Michigan (15)(9) New Jersey (13)(9) North Carolina (13) (9) Georgia (13) (10) Massachusetts (10)