The Congress Congress = bicameral (2 house) legislature made up of a House of Representatives and a Senate Created by the Great Compromise of 1787 Powers listed in Article I Makes laws for the U.S. and represents the choices of the citizens No limit on the amount of terms you can serve
The Congress The majority of the members of Congress are lawyers or businessmen, with most being white, older, male, and relatively wealthy…just like 1787 Members receive excellent benefits, salaries, and “perks” Perks include free travel, vacations, office space, a staff, discounts, free healthcare and Franking Privilege – free mailings
The Congress Members of Congress are also granted immunity, which is legal protection from being arrested or sued for anything done in the course of their job. (This does not include extreme crimes, such as murder.) Members of Congress can be removed from office, called expulsion, with a 2/3’s vote by either house of Congress. Members may also receive a formal reprimand or disapproval, called a censure, for dishonesty or misbehavior.
The Congress The Senate is considered the upper house. It has 100 members with each state equally represented with 2 senators, who represent the entire state. Senators earn a salary of $174,000 per year, plus other benefits.
The Congress • To become a U.S. Senator, a person must meet 3 requirements: • Must be at least 30 years old • Must have been a United States citizen for at least 9 years • Must live in the state they represent
The Congress • Senators are generally seen as being more powerful and influential. • Senators serve 6-year terms meaning they are re-elected every 6 years. • 1/3 of the Senate is re-elected every 2 years, on a rotating basis, so that it takes 6 years for the entire senate to be re-elected or changed. • (N.C.’s Senators are Kay Hagen, a Democrat who was elected in 2008; and Richard Burr, a Republican, who has served since 2004)
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The Congress • The House of Representatives is considered the lower house. • It has 435 members, who represent districts in a state, based upon the population of their state. • All states have at least one, such as Vermont, Montana, and Wyoming; California has the most with 52. • House members earn a salary of $174,000per year, plus other benefits. ($223,000 for Speaker of the House)
The Congress • To be a House of Representatives member, 3 requirements must be met • Must be at least 25 years old • Must have been a United States citizen for at least 7 years • Must live in the district, they represent
The Congress • Representatives serve 2-year terms with the entire House facing re-election every 2 years. • Each House member represents the people of a specific district within the state, each district containing about 750,000 citizens
CONGRESS Congressmen serve 5 specific roles in doing their work: Policy maker- the toughest role Committee member- arguing for and against bills, protecting their party’s views. Representative- Congressmen serve as trustees for the people Constituent servant- they deal directly with people in their district Politician- Congressional members must appear to be effective representatives to their voters
CONGRESS • DUTIES: • Congress considers bills, a.k.a. legislation, which must pass the House of Representatives and the Senate to become law. • The House of Representatives, because it has so many members with 435, has much stricter rules than the Senate when conducting its business. These rules are not set by the Constitution, but by the House. • The party, whether Democrat or Republican, with the most members in the House or the Senate is called the Majority Party. • The party with fewer members is called the Minority Party.
The Senate and House have party leaders who are elected by its members. • Senate Majority Leader, from the majority party • Senate Minority Leader, from the minority party • House Majority Leader, from majority party • House Minority Leader, from the minority party • **All are assisted by a party whip** • The party whip helps the leader keep track of his party members voting, and helps persuade party members to support party when voting on issues.
The official head and leader of the House of Representatives is called the Speaker of the House. • This is the most powerful position in all of Congress, including the Senate. • The Speaker of the House is electedby the members of the House of Representatives, and is always from the majority party.
The Constitution makes the Vice-President the official leader and President of the Senate. The Vice-President rarely appears; only votes in case of a tie. • The official leader of the Senate, when the Vice-President is absent, is called the “President Pro Tempore”, and is traditionally the longest serving Senator from the majority party.
Committee System Committees review, discuss, revise, and either kill the bill, or pass it. Congress has 3 types of committees: Standing Committee- a permanent committee that deals with a certain topic, like the Budget Committee, that deals with the budget.
Committee System 2. Select Committees- are temporary committees, which last only a few months, created by Congress to deal with special specific issues. 3. Joint Committees- are committees made up of members from both the House of Representatives and the Senate, for a limited period of time, to address specific issues, like the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Special Powers for Each House House of Representatives 1. Power to choose President in case of tie or no majority in Electoral College. 2. **All bills that have to do with taxes and appropriations, or spending of money, must be introduced and begin in the House of Representatives. 3. Brings impeachment charges to any government official Senate • Senate serves as the jury in any impeachment trial • Senate must ratify, or approve, any treaty with a foreign country • Senate must approve, or reject appointments made by the President to certain high-level government jobs, such as Supreme Court Justices, Executive Department Secretaries, FBI Director, etc.
Opening Activity • Based on the Constitution, who is in charge of the Senate? • Who actually runs the everyday activities of the Senate? • How many members of Congress are there? • Who has the most powerful position in Congress and why? • What are the three major types of committees in Congress? What is the purpose of a committee?
The Party leaders of each party choose the members of the committees. • The leader of each committee is called the Chairman, and is from the majority party. • The majority party controls, or has the majority of members on all committees, because it has more votes when choosing those members.
Powers of Congress Expressed Powers- powers listed specifically in Article I of the Constitution. (Some examples include, power to collect taxes, power to maintain armed services, power to declare war)
Powers of Congress (Examples: • expressed power-Congress can maintain an Army and Navy • implied power-Congress can also maintain Marines & Air Force) Implied Powers- powers assumed by Congress to be necessary to carry out their jobs, and given to them by the “necessary and proper clause” in Article I of the Constitution. The “necessary and proper clause” is sometimes called the “elasticclause” because it allows Congress to stretch its original powers.
Powers of Congress 3. Non-Legislative Powers- powers that enable the government to work allow Congress to serve as a part of the “checks and balances system”. For example: 1. the power to investigate people and situations that affect U.S. 2. the power to review the Executive Branch, and the President. 3. the power to impeach, or and possibly remove, government officials.
Impeachment is the investigation and trial of a government official, including the President and federal judges, for breaking the law. • Two Step Process: • 1. House investigates and brings up the charges • 2. The Senate acts as the jury and decides guilt in the trial A 2/3’s_vote by the Senate (67 votes) convicts/removes person from office.
5 ACTIONS CONGRESS CANNOT TAKE • Congress cannot favor one state over another state. • Congress cannot tax interstate commerce (from one state to another) • Congress cannot tax any exports • Congress cannot make laws in areas reserved for the states. These reserved powers are given to the states, and include laws about marriage, divorce, murder, and others. • Congress cannot pass laws that interfere withindividual legal rights.
Congress is also kept in check, or limited by the President, who has the power to veto, or block, any bill passed by Congress. This is also part of the “checks and balances system.” • Congress can get around the veto, or override the President’s veto, if 2/3’s of both houses of Congress votes to do so. This rarely happens.