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Influences on Congress. Identify what specific groups and individuals influence the legislators’ decisions?. Objective. Lawmakers ’ views on decisions are seldom based on individual conscience, instead many different groups influence lawmakers’ views. Voters back home,

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influences on lawmakers

Lawmakers’ views on decisions are seldom based on individual conscience, instead many different groups influence lawmakers’ views.

Voters back home,

Lawmakers’ staff members,

Political parties,

The President

Special-interest groups

Influences on Lawmakers
the influence of voters

Lawmakers are heavily influenced by the needs and opinions of their constituents (the voters).

  • Lawmakers stay informed of voters’ attitudes and needs by:
    • making frequent trips back home,
    • Surveys, questionnaires, polls, and
    • reports from their staff in their home district.
  • Lawmakers take this information to help make decisions on issues.
The Influence of Voters
the influence of parties

Nearly all members of Congress belong to one of the two major political parties & generally support their own party’s stands on legislation.

House members support their parties more strongly than Senate members,

The issues themselves also determine whether members follow their party leaders’ agenda.

Members of Congress usually support their party because party members usually share the same general political beliefs.

The Influence of Parties
democratic party


“Our party was founded on the conviction that wealth and privilege shouldn’t be an entitlement to rule and the belief that the values of hardworking families are the values that should guide us.”

Generally the party favors:

Gun Control


Social welfare programs

Help for low income people

Greater government regulation of biz

Democratic Party
republican party


“With a core belief in the primacy of individuals, the Republican Party, since its inception, has been at the forefront of the fight for individuals' rights in opposition to a large, intrusive government.”

Generally the party favors:

Small government

Gun Rights


Less government regulation of business

Local and state governments

Support for higher income groups

Republican Party
presidential influences on congress

Presidentswork hard to persuade lawmakers to support laws they want passed and give or withhold political favors to secure lawmakers’ support.

Presidential Influences on Congress
  • Use the media to influence public opinion
  • Influence individual members of congress

The “LBJ Treatment” 

special interest groups

Interest groups and their lobbyists represent various interests, including labor and business groups, education and environmental organizations, and minority groups.

Try to persuade lawmakers to support certain policies.

Provide info about policies they support or oppose

Visit lawmakers to ask for support

Encourage citizens to write to Members of Congress

Special Interest Groups
special interest groups1

Political action committees (PACs) are political fund-raisingorganizations that give their funds to support lawmakers who favor the PAC’s position.

Are established by corporations, labor unions etc.

Use funds to support lawmakers who favor a PAC’s positions on issues.

Have increased dramatically

Special Interest Groups

Do you think lobbyists and PACs are beneficial or detrimental (harmful) to the lawmaking process in Congress?