LEGISLATIVE BRANCH CH 10 The basics of Congress Senate House of Representative Members of Congress
Basics • Our Congress is a Bicameral legislature • Meaning: it is made up of 2 houses • Senate • House of Representatives • There was a Compromise between the Virginia and New Jersey Plans • The Senate is based on equal representation (2 per state) • The House is based on the population of the State (the more people, the more Representatives)
Basics • A term of Congress lasts 2 years. • Starts at “Noon of the 3rd day of January” • We are in the 112th term of Congress that will expire on January 3rd of 2013. • A session of Congress is the period of time where they conduct business • 2 sessions per Term, 1 each year • Congress suspends work when they see fit (it used to be 4 or 5 months, but now a lot longer) • A Special Session of Congress is called by only the President, in times of emergency • This has only happened 26 times, the last was 1948
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES • At least 25 years old • Have been a citizen of the US for at least 7 years • Must be an inhabitant of the State from which he or she is elected • Serve 2 year terms • 435 members of the HOUSE • 7 states have 1 representative
SENATE • At least 30 years old • Have been a citizen of the U.S. for at least 9 years • Must be an inhabitant from the State from which he or she is elected • Serve 6 years • Always 100 senators
ILLINOIS’ UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVES U.S. REPRESENTATIVE – from ILLINOIS 18TH DISTRICT Dick Durbin (D) Mark Kirk (R) Aaron Schock(R) ILLINOIS’ U.S. SENATORS
Congressional Duties: (5) 1. Legislator 2. Representative 3. Servant 4. Committee Member 5. Politician • Voting Options: (4) • 1. Trustee – Rep. judges by his/her conscience if the bill has merit. • 2. Delegate – Rep. is an “agent”, votes according to the constituents. • 3. Partisan – B/c of allegiance to the party the Rep. votes along party lines. • 4. Politico – Rep. attempts to combine all three methods when voting.
Benefits:I. Compensation - • $174,000 (for both Senators/Reps.) • Majority/Minority Leaders = $193,400 • Speaker = $223,500 II. Non-salary – • Travel allowance, franking privilege, pension plan, etc.
Congressional Districts Q: How many districts are there in the U.S.? Q: How are they apportioned? • Reapportionment Act of 1929: • Permanent size = 435 • Census Bureau determines new numbers • Pres. Sends it to Congress. • If neither House rejects the Census Bureau’s plan after 60 days, it become effective • Types of Districts: 1. Single-Member Districts (ex: 18th IL) 2. At-Large Districts (ex: Montana, Alaska)
GERRYMANDERING • To draw a district to the advantage of the political party that controls the State’s legislature. • WHY? • To concentrate the opposition’s voters in 1 or fewer districts, thus leaving the other districts comfortably safe for the dominate party • To spread the opposition as thinly as possible among several districts, limiting the opposition’s ability to win anywhere in the region • The GOAL is to create “safe” districts – districts almost certain to be won by the line-drawing process.
GERRYMANDERING • District Requirements: 1. Contiguous Territory (all one piece) 2. Nearly equal # of inhabitants 3. Compact Territory (small in area)