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Chapter 11: Congressional Organization. The Presiding Officers: The House of Representatives: Speaker of the House The acknowledged leader of the majority party. Main duties revolve around presiding over and keeping order in the House

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chapter 11 congressional organization

Chapter 11: Congressional Organization

The Presiding Officers:

The House of Representatives: Speaker of the House

The acknowledged leader of the majority party.

Main duties revolve around presiding over and keeping order in the House

The Speaker names the members of all select and conference committees, and signs all bills and resolutions passed by the House.

Speaker of the House in the 112th Congress is John Boehner

chapter 12 congressional organization

Chapter 12: Congressional Organization

The Presiding Officers:

Senate: President of the Senate

Assigned by the Constitution to the Vice President

The president of the Senate has many of the same duties as the Speaker of the House, but cannot cast votes on legislation

The President of the Senate is Vice President Joseph Biden

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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization

The Presiding Officers:

President Pro Tempore

Leader of the majority party, is elected from the Senate and serves in the Vice President’s absence – Usually the longest tenured member of the Majority Party in the Senate

The President Pro Tempore of the 112th Congress is Senator Daniel Inouye.

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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization

The Presiding Officers:

The Floor Leaders: House and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders

Party officers picked for their posts by their party colleagues

Senate Majority Leader – Harry Reid

Senate Minority Leader – Mitch McConnell

House Majority (Republican) Leader – Eric Cantor

House Minority (Democrat) Leader – Nancy Pelosi

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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization

The Presiding Officers:

Party Whips -

Assist the floor leaders and serve as a liaison between the party’s leadership and its rank-and-file members

Senate Assistant Majority Leader (Democratic Whip) – Richard Durbin

Senate Assistant Minority Leader (Republican Whip) - Jon Kyl

House Majority (Republican) Whip – Kevin McCarthy

House Minority (Democrat) Whip – Steny Hoyer

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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization

Committee Chairman:

Members of Congress who head the Standing committees in each chamber.

Decide which bills the committee will consider, in what order, and what witnesses the committee will call – allows testimony that will provide the pros and cons of a bill.

Manage debate and steers passage on floor

Seniority Rule – An unwritten custom that the most important posts in Congress are held by those (Majority) party members with the longest service record.

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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization

Types of Committees

Standing Committees: Permanent Panels in both Houses of Congress.

Considers all bills of similar subject matter

20 in the House (10 to 75 members); 16 in the Senate (14 to 28 members)

Representatives are usually assigned to one or two; Senators three to four standing committees.

Most bills receive most of their consideration and their fate is determined in standing committees.

See Handout.

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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • Subcommittees– Divisions of Standing Committees
    • Do most of the committees work
    • Responsible for a portion of the committees workload
  • Select Committee (Special Committees)- Panels set up for some specific purpose and for alimited time
    • Main purpose is to investigate
    • For example Watergate and Iran Contra Affair
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • Joint Committees – Composed of members from both Chambers of Congress
    • Some are permanent and some are temporary
    • Investigate and issue reports (in depth studies to provide information to Standing Committees)
  • Conference Committees– A Select, Joint Committee created to iron out differences in a bill
    • Resolves differences in House and Senate versions of the same bill
    • Produces a compromise bill that both houses will accept
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • Making a Law (House of Representatives)
  • Bill – A proposed law presented to the House of Representatives or the Senate
    • Anyone can propose a bill
    • The most important come from the Executive Branch
    • All Revenue (money making or tax) bills must originate in the House
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • Types of Bills
  • Public Bills– Measures applying to the nation as a whole – tax measures
  • Private Bills– Measures that apply to certain persons or places rather than the entire nation.
  • Joint Resolution – Similar to bills, and when passed have the effect of a law.
    • Deal with temporary matters to appropriate (provide money to pay for something) money, propose constitutional amendments, and annex territories
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • Concurrent Resolutions– Deal with joint matters of both the House and the Senate
    • Does not have the force of a law; does not have to be signed by the President.
    • Used in Foreign Affairs
  • Resolution – A measure relating to the business of either house or expressing and opinion.
    • Does not have the force of a law; does not have to be signed by the President.
    • Adopting a new rule of procedure or an amendment to an existing rule in the House or Senate
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • Rider– A provision not likely to pass on its own merit that is attached to an important measure that is certain to pass.
    • Most are attached to appropriation bills.
  • How a Bill Becomes a Law
  • A Bill is Introduced– Only members can introduce bills
    • Usually done by dropping the bill in the “Hopper” on the clerks desk
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • Clerk gives the bill a number and title
    • For example, H.R. 2011 would be the 2,011 measure introduce in the House during the congressional term.
    • S 201, would be used in the same manner in the Senate
    • Clerk will also give the bill a short title – a brief summary of its principal contents
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • First Reading: Bill is entered into the House and Senate Journal and Congressional Record
    • Journal contains the official record of the daily proceedings in either chamber
    • Congressional Record is a massive account of the daily proceedings (speeches, debates, comments votes, etc)
  • Bill is referred to the appropriate standing committee.
    • Determines viability of a bill; either passed on for floor consideration or pigeon-holed (buried and dead)
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • Subcommittees may hold hearings for information gathering purposes
  • Committee reports bill - Chairman recommendation:
    • “Do Pass” recommendation – favorable
    • Pigeonhole it – Unfavorable
    • Amend the original form – Favorable w/ changes
    • Unfavorable – Wants the whole House or Senate to kill it. Save Face!
    • Report a committee bill – a new bill entirely
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • Bill is placed on appropriate calendar (5 House, 1 Senate)
  • Union Calendar – Bills having to do with revenues, appropriations, or gov’t property
  • House Calendar – All other public bills
  • Private Calendar – Private Bills
  • Corrections Calendar – Bills from Union and House calendars with no opposition.
  • Discharge Calendar – Petitions to discharge bills from committee
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • Rules Committee grants rule to permit floor consideration – Setting conditions for debate
    • When, how long, and under what circumstances a bill may be debated
  • Bill receives second reading; may be debated and amended – Bill is re-introduced to floor from committee
    • Quorum – More than half of the representatives must be present to conduct congressional business
    • Debate and Amend
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • House votes on Amendments, motions, and full bill – Every amendment and motion on a bill must be approved by majority of the house “yeas” and “nays”, until they reach a final version of the bill
  • Approved bill is engrossed – Printed in its final form
  • Bill is read for a third time – By title only
  • Final vote is taken
    • If the bill passes the House or Senate, that final approved version is then placed on the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senates desk to go through the same process before it is handed over to the President to be signed into law.
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • Different “rules” in the Senate
  • Unanimous Consent Agreements
    • Agreement by all Senators to limit the debate on the floor before debate
  • “Two-Speech Rule” – No senator can make more than two speech on any given bill.
  • Filibuster – A stalling tactic by which a minority of senators seeks to delay or prevent Senate action on a measure. “Talk a bill to death.”
    • Too much talking may force Senate to kill the bill or change it to appease the minority party.
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • The Cloture Rule or “Rule 22” – limits time for debate
    • 3/5 of a full Senate must vote for cloture – limits debate to 30 hours from time cloture vote is taken – them bill must be brought to final vote.
  • Executive Action
  • President signs the bill into law.
  • President may veto – refuse to sign – the bill.
    • President them must return the vetoed bill with an explanation on why the bill was vetoed.
    • Though rare, Congress can Override a Presidential Veto by a 2/3 vote by the full membership in both houses of Congress.
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • President may allow a bill to become a law if he/she does not act upon it w/in 10 days, not including Sundays, of receiving it.
  • Pocket Veto – If Congress adjourns its sessions w/in 10 days not including Sundays, of submitting a bill to the President, and the President does not act, the bill dies.
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Chapter 12: Congressional Organization
  • POI – Line Item Veto Act of 1996 - Congress gave the chief executive the power reject individual items in appropriations bills.
    • Ruled Unconstitutional by Supreme Court in 1998.
    • President can’t Amend a final bill w/o the bill going back through the two house lawmaking process