Chapter 7Congress To Accompany Comprehensive, Alternate, and Texas Editions American Government: Roots and Reform, 10th edition Karen O’Connor and Larry J. Sabato Pearson Education, 2009
Roots of the Legislative Branch • Great Compromise leads to bicameral legislature. • Two per state in Senate, House by population. • House district size determined by apportionment. • House district shape determined by redistricting. • Senators must be 30, serve six-year terms. • Representatives must be 25, serve two-year terms.
Powers of Congress • Most important power is to make law. • Billcannot become law without both branches. • Also declare war, coin money, raise military. • Regulate commerce, immigration, courts. • Revenue bills must begin in House. • Senate handlesimpeachmenttrials.
Role of Political Parties • Majority party has most members. • Minority party has second most members. • Key role in committee system and organization. • Party caucuses also choose policy priorities.
House of Representatives • More tightly structured, governed by more rules. • Party loyalty plays a more important role. • Powerful Speaker of the Housechosen by all members. • Party caucuses pick majority and minority leaders. • Whips assist party leaders.
Senate • Vice president is the official presiding officer. • Official chair is the president pro tempore. • True leader is the majority leader. • Also have whips. • More informal than House. • Controlling Senate challenging, run by folkways. • Importance of rules such as filibuster and cloture.
Committee System • Much of the actual work gets done by committees. • Standing committeesare where bills are referred. • Joint committeesinclude members from both houses. • Conference committeesfinalize bills. • Select committeesdeal with temporary issues. • Importance of House Rules Committee. • Discharge petitions force bills out of committee.
Committee Membership • Members serve on multiple committees at a time. • Request assignments based on interest or district. • Often want access to pork or earmarks. • Some assignments are good for campaigning. • Membership represents party division in house. • Chairs have tremendous agenda-setting power. • Chairs no longer chosen by seniority.
Members of Congress • Professionalization after World War I. • Members must please those in D.C. and in district. • Incumbency helps members to stay in office. • 95 percent of incumbents win reelection. • Members more educated, white, and male than U.S.
Theories of Representation • Trustees hear constituents and make own judgments. • Delegates vote as their constituents want. • Most members act as politicos. • May also be influenced by race or gender.
How Members Make Decisions • Party has become important in divided government. • Constituent opinion, especially on important issues. • Colleagues and caucuses. • Role of logrolling. • Interest group lobbying and money. • Staff and support agencies.
How a Bill Becomes a Law • Stage-by-stage process offers many opportunities to fail. • Parallel processes in House and Senate. • Committee is first step, role of markup. • Moves to floor, Senators may use hold or filibuster. • Conference committee if both chambers approve. • President can sign or veto.
Congress and the Executive • President has become increasingly powerful. • Congress, in turn, has increased oversight hearings. • Also uses congressional review. • War Powers Actshould give Congress role in war. • Congress confirms presidential appointments. • Congress can impeach president.
Congress and the Judiciary • Courts can overturn laws if unconstitutional. • Congress reviews judicial nominees. • Role of senatorial courtesy. • Congress also sets courts’ jurisdiction.
AV- Congressional Approval Back
Figure 7.2- 111th Congress Back
Table 7.6- Support Agencies Back
Table 7.7- Impeachment Back
Apportionment The process where following a census States are allotted Congressional seats according to their proportion of the population. Example: The average number of citizens in a Congressional District is roughly 650,000. Take the number of people in a state and divide by the magic number (650,000) and that will tell you how many Congressman you state can have. Northeastern states, whose pop, is decreasing usually loose Districts to the Southwest states whose pop is increasing.
Redistricting When you win or lose Districts the state government can redraw districts (usually in the advantage of their majority party) to correctly (evenly) proportionalize the Districts to the state’s population.
Bill The name of a wonderful person. A proposed law that eventually has to be voted on in both houses. Back
Impeachment The power given to the House of Representatives by the Constitution, after investigation of facts, to charge any civil officer (govt official) that they have committed a high Crime or Misdemeanor against the Constitution. To include Treason Bribery or criminal intent. This is just the first step in the process. Back
Speaker of the House The only officer of the House that is mentioned in the Constitution. Traditionally a member of the Majority Party who oversees House business and is the spokesperson of the House. Also Second in Line for the Presidency, in case of misfortune to the President and Vice President. Back
President Pro Tempore Official chair of the Senate that the most senior member of the Majority Party attends to when the Vice President is not available. There are no powers to this position, it is one of honor only. Back
Filibuster Way of halting action on a bill, a senator or group will give long speeches to delay any actions Cloture To stop a filibuster sixty senators have to agree to end the action. Back
Congressional Demographics Combined Back Age
Logrolling You back my bill and I will back a bill of yours. Back
Select Committees Temporary committees appointed for specific purposes. Conduct special investigations or studies. Back
Joint Committees Members of both houses used to expedite matters of major attention and conduct investigations or special studies. Back
Standing Committees Continue from one Congress to the next automatically. Bills are referred her for consideration. Back
Conference Committees Joint committees to reconcile differences in bills passed by the House and Senate
Discharge Petitions When a committee doesn’t do anything on investigating a bill, the majority party can use this petition to bring the issue to the floor for a vote. Back
Whips Key member who talks to with all members everyday to clarify how votes would turn out Back
Markup Changes made by committee members before it goes to the floor for consideration Back
hold A senatorial tactic that allows one senator the power to stop (hold) a bill so it can’t be debated, until such time as that senator decides it is now worthy Back
Oversight Congressional review of the activities of an agency or department i.e. they can investigate the CIA to find out if they are telling the truth. Is a department doing what it says it is or are they overstepping their boundaries. Back
Congressional Review Ability of Congress to overturn bureaucratic decisions that some agencies have created. Back
War Powers Act The President can only send troops overseas in a nonwar era for sixty days without garnering permission from the Congress. This is a reaction to the Vietnam War when was not voted on by Congress and the President authorized up to 500,000 troops to Vietnam at a time. Back
Senatorial Courtesy Presidents will defer the selecting of district court judges to the senator in that state from which the vacancy occurs. Back