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Congressional Organization

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  1. Congressional Organization

  2. Announcements • Extra Credit on Gerrymandering Extended to Monday, October 24 • Starting next Monday you will be turning in a synopsis of a US/World event that relates to class (more directions to follow later this week) • Quiz tomorrow—will be discussed later today in class

  3. Terms and Sessions • Term of Congress begins at noon on January 3rd of every odd numbered year • 112th Congress will go from 2011-2013 • Constitution requires Congress to meet at least once each year

  4. Sessions of Congress • Congress divided into two sessions, one for each year of the term • Begins on January 3rd unless Congress proposes another date • When legislative work is done, both houses adjourn and the session is ended • The president may call them back into a special session after they have adjourned (this would occur for a serious problem only)

  5. Joint Sessions • Normally, the Senate and House work as two separate entities • However, there are times both of them meet together in a joint session • Example: President gives State of the Union address • All members of Congress meet in the House chamber to hear the Presidential speech

  6. Organization • Under the Constitution • House of Reps must select a presiding officer • Speaker of theHouse • Vice President of the United States is the president of the Senate • Senate must have someone selected to serve in the absence of the Vice President • President Pro Tempore

  7. How do we decide the leaders? • Caucuses: Private meetings in which each party selects leaders • Occurs on the first day of each term of Congress • Democratic party chooses their own leaders • Republican party chooses their own leaders • Majority party: political party with the most members in each house • Minority party: political party that has fewer members • Question: What is the minority and majority parties of our houses today?

  8. Senate • Vice president does not usually preside over daily meetings, thus majority party selects the president pro tempore • Literally means for the time being • Presides over day-to-day meetings • Each party has a leader who is assisted by a party whip • Whip counts votes, encourages party loyalty, and ensures that the party’s members are present for important votes

  9. House of Representatives • Speaker of the House presides over the House when it is in session • Always a member of majority party • Most powerful officer of the House • No member may speak until recognized by Speaker • Speaker influences the order of business in the House • House also has majority/minority leaders and whips

  10. Committees • Committees meet to consider legislation and hold hearings • Each committee has a chairperson and ranking member • Chairperson: majority party • Ranking Member: minority party • Usually the longest serving member of the minority party represented is named Ranking Member • Subcommittees: smaller groups that consider legislation before it is looked at by full committee

  11. Name the following • Vice President: • President Pro Tempore: • Senate Majority Leader: • Senate Minority Leader: • Speaker of the House: • House Majority Leader: • House Minority Leader:

  12. Name the following • Vice President: Joe Biden • President Pro Tempore: Daniel Inouye • Senate Majority Leader: Harry Reid • Senate Minority Leader: Mitch McConnell • Senate Whips: Richard Durbin (D) and John Kyl (R) • Speaker of the House: John Boehner • House Majority Leader: Eric Cantor • House Minority Leader: Nancy Pelosi • House Whips: Steny Hoyer (D) and Kenny McCarthy (R)

  13. Quiz Tomorrow • 15 Points on the first two sections of Ch. 5 • Things to know: • Apportionment • Gerrymandering • Qualifications for House/Senate • Terms and Sessions • Organization of Congress • Role of caucuses, whips, and committees