Presentation on theme: "Representing the American People The United States Congress is a bicameral legislature in which power is divided between two chambers: the House and the."— Presentation transcript:
Representing the American People The United States Congress is a bicameral legislature in which power is divided between two chambers: the House and the Senate. There are important differences between the House and the Senate in terms of functions and representation.
House and Senate: Functions The House More representative More organized and with centralized authority Greater degree of policy specialization Generally quicker to act The Senate Filtered from the people Less organized and more individualistic Senators tend to be generalists More deliberative
House and Senate: Representation Because of the great compromise, the House was meant to represent the people whereas the Senate was designed to represent the states. As a result, the House and the Senate are of different size and House members and Senators represent their constituencies differently.
Congress constituency defined: The district comprising the area from which an official is elected. The constituency of a House member is determined by their congressional district whereas Senators represent entire states.
Congress The House 435 members 2 year term Membership per state varies by population Tend to have localized, narrow constituencies The Senate 100 Senators 6 year term States represented equally (2 Senators) Have broader, more diverse constituencies
Congress The size of the average House district has changed dramatically throughout American history. In 1789, the average representative had a constituency of 30,000; now it is 550,000. Senate representation has changed dramatically as well. In 1789, Senators were selected by state legislatures rather than the people; the 17 th Amendment provided for the direct election of Senators in 1913.
Congress sociological representation defined: A type of representation in which representatives share the racial, ethnic, religious, or educational backgrounds of their constituents. agency representation defined: A type of representation in which representatives are accountable to constituents through elections.
Congress As agents, Members of Congress and Senators seek to represent the wishes and best interests of their constituents in the hopes of securing re-election. As agents, Members of Congress engage in: casework staying in touch with district concerns legislating for the district
Congress Incumbent Members of Congress enjoy considerable advantages in their efforts to secure re-election: fundraising advantages name recognition office advantages pork barrel legislation and patronage
Organization of Congress The House and the Senate are both organized by political parties, though party organizations and partisanship tend to be stronger in the House than the Senate. The basic congressional party organizations are the gatherings of all Republicans and Democrats. Republicans call such meetings the conference. Democrats call their organization a caucus.
Leadership in the House The House: The Speaker of the House is its presiding officer and the top political leader of the House majority party. Both parties also have floor leaders; these are called the Majority Leader and Minority Leader. Both the majority and minority parties also have elaborate whip systems that provide party leadership.
Leadership in the Senate The Senate: The Vice President of the United States is the Senates presiding officer, but its top political leader analogous to the Speaker of the House is the Senate Majority Leader. The top leader of the minority party is known as the Senate Minority Leader. In the Senate, both parties have extensive party organizations though they are not as extensive or influential as their counterparts in the House.
Committees Congress is also organized by a system of standing committees that propose, research and write legislation. Committees enjoy influence due to: legislative expertise jurisdiction over policy areas procedural advantages over the committees legislation
Stages I of the Legislative Process I. Bill Introduction and Committee Referral When Members introduce legislation, it is referred to a Congressional Committee that has jurisdiction over that policy area. That Committee (and possibly a relevant subcommittee) will study the bill, bring in witnesses, debate it, and vote whether or not to report it out.
Stage II II. Access to the Floor Once reported out of committee, legislation then must be scheduled on the floor. In the House, the Committee on Rules issues a rule for consideration of the bill that governs the time allotted for debate and the potential for floor amendments. In the Senate, consultation between the Senates majority and minority leaders generally determines the Senates floor schedule.
Stage III III. Legislative Passage Legislation generally must pass with a majority vote on the floor and, in the Senate, sometimes it requires a three-fifths vote to pass legislation. Once passed the House and Senate, the two chambers different versions of the legislation must be reconciled. Often this happens in Conference Committee. Still, after Conference, both Chambers must approve any changes made in Conference.
Stage IV IV. On to the White House If both chambers approve, the bill is then sent to the President for a signature or veto. If the President vetoes the legislation, it can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of each chamber.
How Congress Decides Congressional decision-making is affected by a number of factors both outside Congress and inside Congress. Outside influences include constituents and interest groups. Inside influences include parties, committees, and member-to- member bargaining and logrolling.
Other Congressional Powers In addition to legislating, Congress plays important roles in the separation of powers: oversight advice and consent impeachment