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How Congress Works Part I. Structure & Organization. Who’s in Congress?. House-Senate Differences. House 435 members; 2 yr terms Low turnover Speaker bill referral hard to challenge

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How Congress Works Part I

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    1. How Congress WorksPart I Structure & Organization

    2. Who’s in Congress?

    3. House-Senate Differences House • 435 members; 2 yr terms • Low turnover • Speaker bill referral hard to challenge • Scheduling/rules controlled by majority party with powerful Rules Committee (controls time of debate, amends., etc) Senate • 100 members; 6 yr terms • Moderate turnover • Referral decisions easily challenged • Scheduling/rules agreed to by majority & minority leaders

    4. House-Senate Differences House • Debate limited to 1 hour • Members policy specialists • Emphasizes tax & revenue policy • More formal & impersonal Senate • Unlimited debate unless cloture invoked • Members policy generalists • Emphasizes foreign policy • More informal & personal

    5. Party Leadership in Congress

    6. Role of Political Parties • Not mentioned in the Constitution!!!!!!!!!!!! • Majority party is the party with the most votes, the minority party has the 2nd most votes • The majority party: • Chooses the Speaker of the House/Senate Majority Leader and President Pro Tempore • Holds committee chairs and majority on committees • House Rules Committee********** • Sets the legislative agenda in each of the chambers

    7. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE • Chosen by majority party • Chief presiding officer (constitutionally) of the House AND 2nd in line for the presidency • Decides whom to recognize to speak on the floor • Rules on germaneness of motions • Decides to which committee bills go • Schedules bills for action • Appoints members of special and select committees • Has some patronage power

    8. HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER • Chosen by majority party • Assists Speaker • Plans party’s legislative program • Steers important bills through the House • Party leader

    9. HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP • Party floor leader • Keeps close watch on how majority members intend to vote • Attempts to influence voting

    10. HOUSE MINORITY LEADER • Party leader for the minority party • Performs similar tasks to House Majority Leader • Has no power over scheduling work in the House

    11. HOUSE MINORITY WHIP • Assists party minority leader • Keeps close watch on how minority members intend to vote • Attempts to influence voting

    12. President of the Senate • Vice-President of the United States • Elected in general presidential election • Chief presiding officer (constitutionally) of the Senate • Cannot participate in floor debate • Casts vote only in case of tie

    13. President Pro-Tempore • Chosen by majority party; often most senior member (longest service) • Presides over Senate in absence of vice-president • More about prestige than power • 3rd in line of presidential succession…which is kinda scary…

    14. President This Guy The late Sen. Robert Byrd (W.Va.) – age 92

    15. Senate Majority Leader • Chosen by majority party • Holds the actual power in the Senate • Steers party’s bills through Senate • Plans Senate’s work schedule in consultation with Minority Leader • Makes sure majority members attend important sessions

    16. Senate Majority Whip • Chosen by majority party • Assists Majority Leader • Rounds up members for key votes • Heads group of deputy whips

    17. Senate Minority Leader • Chosen by minority party • Minority party leader in Senate • Develops criticisms of bills from majority party • Consults with Majority Leader re: Senate’s work schedule • Tries to keep members working together

    18. Senate Minority Whip • Chosen by minority party • Assists Minority Leader • Rounds up members for key votes • Heads group of deputy whips

    19. HOUSE LEADERSHIP Speaker (majority party) Republicans: • Majority Leader • Majority Whip • Republican Conference • Republican Policy Committee • Republican Congressional Campaign Committee Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)

    20. HOUSE LEADERSHIP Democrats: • Minority Leader • Minority Whip • Democratic Caucus • Democratic Congressional Committee Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

    21. SENATE LEADERSHIP President of the Senate (Vice President) President Pro Tempore (majority party) Democrats: • Majority Leader • Majority Whip • Chairman of Conference • Policy Committee • Steering Committee • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee President Pro Tem Robert Byrd (D-WV) President of the Senate Joe Biden (D-DE) Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)

    22. SENATE LEADERSHIP Republicans: • Minority Leader • Minority Whip • Chairman of Conference • Policy Committee • Committee on Committees • Republican Senatorial Committee Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX)

    23. Strength of Party Structure? • Measure of party strength: • Ability of leaders to control party rules and organization • Extent to which party members vote together in the House and Senate • Senate: less party-centered and leader oriented

    24. Party polarization - vote in which majority of democrats oppose majority of republicans Nolan McCarty, Keith T. Poole and Howard Rosenthal ( have charted the trends from Reconstruction through 2010

    25. CAUCUSES • Groups (may be bipartisan) meeting to pursue common legislative objectives • Rivals to parties in policy formulation • Examples: Democratic Study Group, Congressional Black Caucus, Tuesday Lunch Bunch, Human Rights, Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, Out of Iraq Caucus, Rural Caucus, Travel & Tourism Caucus, House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children

    26. "Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee-rooms is Congress at work.” - Woodrow Wilson

    27. COMMITTEES • Committee assignments help members get reelected, gain influence, and make policy. • House committee members tend to develop expertise in their policy area more so than Senators • Some committees are “more equal” than others. • New members express committee preferences to party leaders. • Those who have supported their party’s leadership are favored in the selection process as parties try to grant committee preferences.

    28. COMMITTEES • Committee Chair – Dominant role in scheduling hearings, hiring staff, appointing subcommittees, and managing committee bills on the floor. • Seniority System – Members who have served on the committee the longest and whose party is the chamber majority become chair. • Replaced by elections, but seniority is still the norm

    29. Legislative Committees Function and Purpose

    30. Legislative Committees:Function & Purpose • Consider bills(a.k.a. “mark-up” bills) Most bills die in committee where they are pigeonholed or buried Bills can be forced out of committee with a discharge petition signed by a majority of House members Some bills are sent to floor for a vote, usually with a recommendation

    31. Legislative Committees:Function & Purpose 2. Maintain oversight of executive agencies Secretary Donald Rumsfeld testifies before a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing re: the Department of Defense Budget (May, 2006)

    32. Legislative Committees:Function & Purpose 3. Conduct investigations New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Hurricane Katrina (Feb., 2006

    33. Types of Committees • Standing Committees - full legislative functions and oversight responsibilities specific policy areas • Subcommittees– formed to tackle very specific tasks within the jurisdiction of the full committees • Select or Special Committees - groups appointed for a limited purpose and limited duration • Joint Committees - includes members of both chambers to conduct studies or perform housekeeping tasks • Conference Committee- includes members of House & Senate to work out differences between similar bills

    34. Standing Committees

    35. House Standing Committees Agriculture Appropriations Armed Services Budget Education & the Workforce Energy & Commerce Ethics Financial Services Homeland Security House Administration Intelligence Judiciary Natural Resources Oversight & Government Reform Rules Science, Space, & Technology Small Business Transportation & Infrastructure Veterans Affairs Ways & Means

    36. House Rules Committee • The Rules Committee is controlled by the Speaker of the House, it serves as the Speaker’s “right arm” or traffic cop • Sets guidelines for floor debate • Places a bill on the legislative calendar • Determines what, if any, amendments will be permitted • Establishes time limits for debate • Open Rule – less strict time limits for debate and allows amendments from the floor • Closed Rule – strict time limits on debates and does not permit amendments from the floor

    37. House Committee on Ways & Means • One of the most desired committee appointments • Has jurisdiction on all taxation, tariffs, and other revenue-raising measures • Members of the Ways and Means Committee cannot serve on any other House committees

    38. Senate Standing Committees Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Appropriations Armed Services Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs Budget Commerce, Science, Transportation Energy & Natural Resources Environment and Public Works Finance Foreign Relations Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Judiciary Rules and Administration Small Business and Entrepreneurship Veterans Affairs

    39. Special, Select Committees Select Committee on Ethics  Select Committee on Intelligence  Special Committee on Aging  Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee during a hearing on the Benghazi attacks.

    40. Joint Committees • Joint Economic Committee • Joint Committee on the Library • Joint Committee on Printing • Joint Committee on Taxation • Special joint committees are formed when the Congress feels it is necessary • Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming

    41. Congressional Staff Agencies • Congressional Budget Office (CBO) • analyzes the president’s budget • makes economic projections about the performance of the economy, the costs of proposed policies, and the economic effects of taxing and spending alternatives. • Congressional Research Service (CRS), administered by the Library of Congress. • The CRS uses researchers, many with advanced degrees and highly developed expertise, to respond to more than 250,000 requests yearly for information. • General Accounting Office (GAO) • reviews the activities of the executive branch to see if it is following the congressional intent of laws • investigates the efficiency &effectiveness of policy implementation.

    42. Congressional Oversightover the executive branch • Senate must confirm cabinet nominees • Sets guidelines for bureaucratic agencies • Holds hearings and investigations on executive branch actions • Has control over the budget • Can reorganize bureaucratic agencies • Evaluates bureaucratic agency programs • ONLY CONGRESS CAN DECLARE WAR

    43. Title: Resolution Artist: Bob Gorrell Date: 12/28/06 Source:

    44. Artist: R.J. Matson, New York Observer & Roll Call Date: 1/18/07 Source: