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The Legislative Branch Chapter 7. Structure of Congress Lesson 1. Essential Questions: Why do people create, structure and change governments It Matters Because: Congress makes the federal laws that affect all Americans Guiding Question

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The Legislative Branch Chapter 7

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structure of congress lesson 1
Structure of CongressLesson 1
  • Essential Questions:
  • Why do people create, structure and change governments
  • It Matters Because:
  • Congress makes the federal laws that affect all Americans
  • Guiding Question
  • Why is Congress composed of a House of Representatives and a Senate
bicameral congress
Bicameral Congress
  • Smaller states- wanted each state to have equal representation
  • Larger states- wanted representation based on population
  • Compromise – Create a bicameral (two parts) body
    • Senate- each state would have two representatives
    • House of Representatives- members from each state would be based on population
house of representatives
House of Representatives
  • Census- population count every ten years
    • This determines how many representatives each state is allowed
    • States are divided into districts
    • Each district gets one House member
    • 435 members with 2 year terms
  • Constituents- people who live in a district
  • Gerrymander- an oddly shaped district designed to increase the voting strength of a particular group
the senate
The Senate
  • The Senate has 100 members
    • 2 from each state
    • Six year terms
    • Every two years one third is up for reelection
      • Filling seats that become vacant depends on state law
      • The Governor can appoint a replacement
      • Special elections could be held
congressional leadership
Congressional Leadership
  • Majority Party- in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the political party that has more than half of the members
  • Minority Party- in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the political party that has less than half of the members
top leadership in the house
Top Leadership in the House
  • Speaker of the House- chosen by members of the majority party
    • The Speaker has great power
    • Guides legislation through the House, and leads the debates on the floor of the House
    • If anything happens to the President and Vice President the Speaker of the House is next in line to become President
top leadership in the senate
Top Leadership in the Senate

Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader

Joe Biden

  • Vice President-presiding officer in the Senate
    • The Vice President only gets to vote in the Senate in case of a tie
    • President Pro Tempore- President of the senate when the Vice President is not there.
      • Pro tempore means “for the time being”
      • After the Speaker of the House, the President Pro Tempore is next in line to the presidency

Patrick Leahy

the committee system
The Committee System
  • Each house is set up of many different committees
      • These committees help in handling the thousands of bills that are considered each session and there are three types
    • Standing Committees
      • They are permanent committees (used each term)
      • Focus on specific area of government such as agriculture, defense, and foreign affairs
    • Select Committee
      • Temporary committees that deal with special issues
    • Joint Committees
      • Committees that include members of both houses, they consider specific issues
getting on a committee
Getting on a Committee
  • Senators and representatives try to get placed on committees that affect the people who elected them
    • Members from a farming areas such as Iowa, or Kansas try to serve on agriculture committees
    • Your interests, experience, and party loyalty help to determine which committee you are placed in
    • Seniority- years of service, also determines the committee you are placed in.
  • Committee Chairperson
    • Decides when the committee meets
    • Decides which bill will be considered
lesson 2 powers of congress
Lesson 2Powers of Congress
  • It Matters Because
    • The framers of the Constitution gave Congress many powers and also placed some limits on those powers
  • Guiding Question
    • What kinds of lawmaking powers were given to Congress by the Constitution
    • Understanding what powers Congress has, and how those powers are limited is vital knowledge for every American citizen.
legislative powers
Legislative Powers
  • Expressed Powers- powers that Congress has that are specifically listed in the Constitution
      • Most powers are listed in Article 1, Section 8
      • Also referred to as enumerated powers
      • 18 clauses that lists powers given to Congress
      • i.e. Print money, declare war, borrow money, collect taxes
  • Implied Powers- powers that Congress has that are not explicitly listed in the Constitution
      • Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18 states that- Congress has the power to do whatever is “necessary and proper”.
      • Clause 18 is also known as the “elastic clause”
lawmaking powers
Lawmaking Powers
  • Three Major Categories
    • Money powers-raise and spend money, tax, print money
    • Commerce- regulate, manage trade and business between states
    • Military / Foreign Policy- laws about defense, war, and foreign policy
  • Other Powers and Limits
    • Non Legislative Powers- duty Congress holds besides making laws
      • Keep check on other branches
      • Reject Presidents nominees
      • Impeach-to accuse government officials of misconduct in office
limits on congressional power
Limits on Congressional Power
  • The Bill of Rights- limits government powers
  • Writ of habeas corpus- a court order that requires police to bring a prisoner to court to explain why they are holding a person
  • Bills of attainder- a law that punishes a person accused of a crime without a trial or a fair hearing in court
  • Ex post facto law- a law that allows a person to be punished for an action that was not against the law when it was committed
  • Other powers are denied to the federal government by setting them aside only for the states
lesson 3 how congress works
Lesson 3How Congress works
  • It Matters Because
    • In making laws, Congress makes decisions that affect all Americans
  • Guiding Question
    • What are the qualifications for becoming a member of congress?
requirements and benefits
Requirements and Benefits
  • Who are members of Congress
    • 2 out of 5 are lawyers, others are farmers, doctors, homemakers, former armed forces members, entertainers and athletes
    • Senators- average age is 62
    • House Representatives- average age is 56
    • Salary- in 2010 was $174,000 a year
      • Free office space, parking, trips home
      • Franking privilege- free job related mail service
      • Free life and health insurance
      • Free gym, special restaurants and clinic
      • Legal protection in certain situations
congressional staff
Congressional Staff
  • To help do their jobs the Congressmen hire:
    • A staff of clerks, secretaries, and special assistants
      • They have offices near the Capitol
      • They deal with reporters and lobbyists-people who represent interest groups
      • They draft, or outline bills
agencies of congress
Agencies of Congress

Congress has also created agencies to support its work

  • The Library of Congress
    • Largest library in the world
    • It’s an important source of information for Congress and their staff
    • At least one copy of every book published in the United States is found there
agencies of congress1
Agencies of Congress
  • The Government Accountability Office (GOA)
    • Examines financial matters for Congress
    • Reviews spending by federal agencies
    • Studies federal programs
    • Suggests how to improve spending
    • Helps in considering new laws
    • Studies problems and analyzes actions that can be taken
    • Also advises executive departments
agencies of congress2
Agencies of Congress
  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
    • Provides information needed by Congress to develop the governments budget
    • Advises Congress on cost and benefits of actions being considered
    • It does not suggest policies,
    • It estimates the costs of programs
congress at work
Congress at Work
  • Making laws – is one of the main functions of Congress
    • They act as investigators, thinkers, and they study issues in order to understand them
  • Casework- the work that a lawmaker does to help constituents with a problem
    • Some receive as many as 10,000 requests per year
    • This helps with their reelection
congress at work cont
Congress at Work (cont.)
  • Pork-barrel projects- government project grant that primarily benefits a congressman’s home district or state
    • Bring federal money (the fat)to their district or state
    • Money used to build bridges, dams, military bases, veterans hospitals, highways
  • Earmarks- wording that is added to bills to provide funds for specific projects they favor
lesson 4 how a bill becomes a law
Lesson 4How a Bill Becomes a Law
  • It Matters Because
    • The process Congress follows to make laws is complex
  • Guiding Question
    • What kinds of bills come before Congress?
types of bills
Types of Bills
  • The process of making laws is designed to be long and complicated
    • This makes sure that bills are considered carefully
  • Two types
    • Private bills- concern individual people or places
      • Deals with claims against the government
    • Public bills- apply to the entire nation
      • Deals with matters such as taxation, farm policy, or highway building.
  • In addition to bills
    • Resolutions- statement expressing lawmakers opinions or decisions
      • They usually wont become laws
    • Joint resolutions- a resolution that is passed by both houses of Congress
      • They become law if the President signs them
from bill to law
From Bill to Law
  • A bill starts with an idea from:
    • Private citizens
    • The President
    • Special-interest groups- an organization made up of people with common interests who try to influence gov. decisions
  • Sponsor- the member who introduces a bill
    • Every bill is given a number
      • Senate- S.1
      • House- H.R.- 2
committee action
Committee Action
  • Pass the bill, which sends it to the full chamber
  • Make changes to the bill and then pass it and sent it to the full House or Senate
  • Replace the original bill with a new bill on the same subject
  • “pigeonhole” the bill- which means to ignore the bill and let it die in committee
  • Kill the bill out right by having a majority vote against it.
debating the bill
Debating the Bill
  • Bills approved in committee are then considered by the full House or Senate (floor debate)
    • The House accepts only amendments relevant to the bill
    • Senate-allows riders- a completely unrelated amendment added to a bill
    • House- has many members, so there is a time limit on discussions
    • Senate- has fewer member, no time limit
      • Filibuster- a tactic used for defeating a bill (talking the bill to death)
      • Cloture- a procedure in the Senate to limit debate on a the bill
voting and vetoes
Voting and Vetoes
  • House
    • After the bill is debated it is brought to a vote (3 ways)
      • Voice vote (Aye=Yes, Nay=No)
      • Standing vote- members stand to be counted for a vote
      • Recorded vote- votes are recorded electronically
  • Senate
    • Also has 3 methods of voting
      • Roll-call vote- Aye or Nay vote when the senators name is called
      • Voice vote
      • Standing vote
    • A simple majority is necessary, must pass both houses, if either house rejects it, the bill is dead.
different versions of bills conference committee
Different Versions of BillsConference Committee
  • Sometimes each house passes a different version of a bill
    • If there are differences the bill goes to a conference committee
    • In conference they make compromises and come out with one version of the bill
    • The bill then goes to the President to sign (approve) or veto (reject)
  • Pocket Veto- is the president’s power to kill a bill, if Congress in not in session, by not signing the bill for 10 daysw