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Chapter 10 (Congress) I. Powers of Congress (i.e. C) A. Constitutional Powers Powers of House Only – (1) Originate Tax/Spend Bills (2) Bring impeachment.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 10 (Congress) I. Powers of Congress (i.e. C) A. Constitutional Powers Powers of House Only – (1) Originate Tax/Spend Bills (2) Bring impeachment."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 10 (Congress) I. Powers of Congress (i.e. C) A. Constitutional Powers Powers of House Only – (1) Originate Tax/Spend Bills (2) Bring impeachment charges. Powers of Senate Only – (1) Advise and consent to (ratify) treaties (2) Confirm appointments to federal judiciary, ambassadors, cabinet, and high executive agency chiefs (3) Try impeachments. B. Institutional Conflict: Constitutionally, C could exert considerable power over the other two branches. Yet, over the long term, national leadership and policy initiative have tended to shift from Congress to the president.-Dye.

2 C. Dividing Congressional Power: House and Senate (Fig. 8.1) 1. Bicameral legislature: A legislature that consists of two separate bodies. House of Representatives (435 members who serve 2-year terms; chosen from local districts; more rules) Senate (100 members who serve 6-year terms. Senate elections are staggered so that 1/3 of senators are elected every 2 years; chosen from entire state; fewer rules) Both houses must pass identical bills before it goes to Pres. D. Domestic versus Foreign and Defensive Policy – C is more powerful in domestic than in international affairs. It usually follows the Presidents wishes with respect to foreign policy. Only C can declare war, and they have done so only 5 times.

3 E. The Power of the Purse – Cs constitutional and exclusive power to authorize federal expenditures (both foreign and domestic) is very important. F. Oversight of the Bureaucracy – C and Congressional oversight committees oversee the functions of government agencies (again, attention to compliance is necessary since C controls the budget) G. Agenda Setting and Media Attention – Through Congressional Hearings and Congressional Investigations, C can set the agenda for the media (i.e. anti-Clinton group, incumbency advantage: more appearances, popularity for policies favored by Congress)

4 II. Congressional Apportionment and Redistricting *Representatives…shall be apportioned among the several states…according to their respective Numbers. Congress determines the size of the House (not Constitution like with the Senate). In 1910 C fixes the size of the House to 435. A. Apportionment – the process of allocating seats in legislative bodies, like C, among the states: The formula used was created in 1929 and considers a states % of population represented by 435 positions. B. Malapportionment: This occurs when a district is over or under represented in terms of population (e.g. In 1962, GA had two districts with large population disparities; 272,154 – rural and 823, 860 – urban)

5 C. Supreme Court: The S. C. intervened in 1962 (Baker v. Carr). They ruled that severe malapportionment violates the Equal Protection Clause. One persons vote must roughly equal anothers. D. Redistricting – Drawing of legislative district boundaries following each census. State legislatures draw these and they must pass both houses of the State legislature as well as receive the governors; signature. E. Gerrymandering – Drawing lines in such a way as to gain political advantages. Parties controlling state legislatures typically engage in this. The court has generally not stopped this practice, but if a voters or a group of voters influence on the political process is consistently degraded, the court has used language allowing for judicial intervention. splintering: creating districts with very low concentrations of a particular voting population (e.g. minorities) packing: creating districts with a very high concentration of a certain voting population


7 F. Racial Gerrymandering – Drawing lines to render a minoritys voting influence worthless violates both the equal protection clause and the Voting Rights Act of The VRA requires that states with a history of racial gerrymandering and voting discrimination have their district lines approved by the federal justice department. After 1982, the motivation to racially discriminate was no longer the only requirement. Instead, state legislatures must redistrict their states as to maximize minority representation in Congress and state legislatures (create majority-minority districts). The Court has begun to consider both affirmative and negative racial gerrymandering unconstitutional.

8 III. Getting to Capitol Hill A. Who runs for Congress? – They typically come from law, business, or public service. More and more, members of Congress are career politicians, in the sense that they decided early in life to pursue political offices. B. Competition for Seats – Careerism is aided by the incumbency advantages. House: 90%; Senate: 85%; State Legislators: 90% Safe Seat – district where incumbent typically wins by over 60% (70% of all incumbents) % face no challenger. Open Seat – No incumbent running in a district (10% of seats). C. Turnover – Change in membership. Recently, it has been high. It usually results from retirement or resignation or reapportionment (loss of seat), not electoral defeat.

9 D. Congressional Electorate – These elections rarely arouse much voter interest (60% can name one Senator from their state; 40% can name both; less than half can name their Rep). Voter turnout for off-year elections (when the president is not elected) is about 35%. E. Congressional Campaign Financing – The candidate with the most money wins 90% of the time. This fact and huge advertised campaign chests serve to deter challengers. F. Independence of Congressional Voting – Voters quite often vote for different parties with respect to the president and Congress.

10 G. Democratic Dominance of Congress (40 years, ) 1.Why? Theories: Unintentional Party Theory - Dems more committed to winning and staying in office than Reps. Incumbency Theory-When elections modernized (candidate centered, campaign finance) the Dems were incumbents. Intentional Local elections and concerns theory – voters favor Republican goals on national issues (security, lower taxes, less spending overall); but they favor more Democratic ideas locally (govt programs and pork) Party Balance – moderate voters in the center intentionally vote for different parties in order to balance public policy. 2. Ended with GOP takeover in 1994; today, Congress is more evenly split than ever.

11 IV. Life in Congress A. Demographics and Representativeness of Congress 1.Race: Black membership in Congress grew from one ( ) to 9% of the House today. Blacks are 12% of the population; these representatives mostly come from majority-minority districts. Hispanics (12% pop) makeup 5% of the House and there is was Native American (Ben Nighthorse Campbell switched in 1995 from D to Rep). 2.Gender: Women have made significant gains at least in the House especially in 1992 the year of the woman. There are 9 women senators and 60 Reps. 3.Other (Age, religion, income, occupation, etc.; next slide)



14 B. Congressional Staff (25,000 people). Each rep has about 20. Each senator has between (depends on state size). Each Rep gets about $500,000 a year in expense funds and Senators get $2,000,000. Total expense spending for Congressmen = more than $2 BILLION. C. Workload (Day in the life of a Congressman) hour days (2-3 in committee; 2-3 on floor; 3-4 meeting with people; 2-3 attending meetings or events or conferences). May introduce bills in one session (convenes in January following a congressional election and extends for 2 years until after next one) Vote 900-1,000 times a session

15 D. Pay and Perks 1998 – House pay = $154,000 (27 amendment, 203 years old, was ratified in Requires a House election to intervene before pay hikes begin) Other perks include, travel and office expenses, free congressional health club, free medical clinic, free parking, free video studios for making self- promotional tapes, free mailing privileges, and a subsidized dining room, gift shop, and barbershop. V. Home Style (activities members direct toward constituents at home) Case work – services performed by members on behalf of individual constituents. (lost Social Security checks, information on a bill or vote, IRS problems…). About 100 cases per week per House office and 300 per Senate office.

16 Pork Barrel – bring home the bacon: legislation or government programs, funds, or goodies flow to particular districts. Pressing the Flesh – be seen at home, often. Congress usually follows a Tuesday-to- Thursday schedule to help each other out. Puffing Images – Members use franking privileges to enhance their image through mail, newsletters, and other materials. They also use the Congressional television studios to send to local stations and all have webpages. VI. Organizing Congress: Party and Leadership Fig C is organized around party leaders. This is different from before the 1970s when C was managed by the most senior members. A. House: Majority Party elects the Speaker and he/she assigns bills to committees.

17 B. Senate: Parties elect Leaders (majority/minority) who formulate the partys legislative agenda (and set vote schedule for majority party). The President of the Senate is the Vice President of the U.S, but he/she delegates that responsibility to the president pro tempore. VPs do cast tie breaking votes. VI. Committees Standing Committees – permanent committees that specialize in a particular are of legislation (e.g., House Ways and Means, Ag, Rules, VA; Senate Appropriations). Majority party has a majority in every committee. About 9,000 bills are introduced every year so these committees are important for screening. Subcommittees – committees under the supervision of a larger committee charged with considering specific pieces of legislation Committee Membership- assignments are very important to members (capacity to bring home bacon and deliver on campaign promises). These assignments are determined by party leadership.

18 Chairs – though elected, senior members typically enjoy priority over junior members when it comes to chairmanships. Of course, the majority party will be the chair first. Most bills die in committee (voted down or simply ignored). The only way to force a floor vote on a bill opposed by a committee is to get a majority (218) of House members to sign a discharge petition. The Senate needs a majority vote as well, but senators can amend a bill any way they wish (no need to do this). VII. On the Floor (next slide) – know this process, and note differences between House and Senate procedure A. House Rules Committee – a bill must pass through the rules committee in order to reach the floor. Closed Rule – rule that forbids adding any amendments to a bill on floor (15%). Restricted Rule – rule that permits only certain amendments (15% Open Rule – rule that permits unlimited amendments on floor (70%).


20 B. Senate Floor Traditions Unanimous consent agreements – negotiated by Senate leaders; specifies when a bill will be taken up on the floor, what amendments to consider, and when a vote will occur. Filibuster – using the Senates unlimited debate rule to prevent a vote on a bill. Cloture – Vote to end debate (stop a filibuster), requires 3/5s (60) vote of entire Senate. Rider – amendment to a bill that is not relevant to the bill. C. Floor Voting Amending a bill to death (i.e. Killer Amendments), then claim support Voice Votes - not a recorded vote. Roll-Call Vote – recorded votes by individual

21 D. Conference Committees – Constitution requires that both Houses pass identical bills. Similar bills with different wording passed by each house can be assigned to CCs in order to created one compromise bill to be voted on in each house. IX. Explaining Votes in Congress A. Party Voting (next slide) – Majority of Dems voting in opposition to a majority of Reps (recently over 60% of the votes). B. Party unity – percentage of Dems and Reps who stick with their partys position on a bill/vote (recently, over 80%). C. Presidential Support or Opposition – Presidential proposals enjoy great support from members of their own party. Why? President has access to media, veto power, and bureaucratic supervision.


23 D. Constituency Influence – Members must pay attention to opinions of their voters (perhaps even when they disagree with it). What about rational ignorance? E. Interest-Group Influence – IGs have especial influence over the details of bills. They provide MCs policy expertise and campaign support. F. Personal Values Trustees – Legislators who feel that they should have discretion over decision making. Delegates – Legislators who feel that they should vote in accordance with their constituents. X. Customs and Norms Civility Specialization and Deference (i.e. Dr. Bill Frist has been deferred to on health policy; hes a heart surgeon) Logrolling – If you vote for my bill [pork], Ill vote for yours. This is the way that congressmen are able to get a majority in the chamber to vote for their narrow pork projects.

24 XI. Congressional Ethics Expulsion (2/3s vote) Censure – stand in the well and be berated by peers.

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