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House of Representatives:

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Presentation on theme: "House of Representatives:"— Presentation transcript:

1 House of Representatives:
Reflecting the Will of the People

2 Formal Qualifications
House members are chosen directly by the people Members must be at least 25 years old Must be a citizen of the U.S. at least 7 years Must be a resident in state he/she represents House can expel a member with a 2/3 vote This has only happened 5 times in U.S. history Last happened in 2002, when James Traficant was convicted of taking bribes/income tax evasion.

3 Informal Qualifications
House candidates must be able to appeal to voters in his or her district. The ability to raise money for a campaign is critical – winning/losing candidates spend $1.5 million combined on an election. Other candidate qualities vary, but may include wealth, fame, charisma, and military backgrounds

4 Reapportionment Each state gets at least one representative
Every ten years, the House must be reapportioned, in which seats are redistributed based on census results States that gain population may gain seats; states that lose population may lose seats Congress used to just add seats as the population grew, but this changed in 1929 when the number of seats became fixed. Recently, southern and western states have gained seats.

5 Gerrymandering Congress has the responsibility of reapportioning seats among states. But redistricting, the job of creating district boundaries within the states, is left to the state governments. The party in power (Democrat or Republican) tends to draw the boundaries to its own advantage politically.

6 Gerrymandering (cont’d)
Such boundaries are drawn to divide and weaken the opponent’s strength. Tactic gives your party best chance of winning. Drawing district boundaries for political advantage is called gerrymandering.

7 House Leadership Speaker of the House – most powerful member and presiding officer (Nancy Pelosi – 1st female Speaker) -comes from the majority party; is elected by fellow members of Congress Powers of the Speaker: -presides over debates and recognizes speakers -assigns bills to particular committees -determines when/how an issue is debated Speaker is second in line to Presidential succession

8 Other Leaders Floor leader – one for each party in the House
-majority leader (floor leader for majority party) is the assistant to the Speaker of the House -minority leader (floor leader for minority party) tries to keep his or her party united against the majority party. Whips – people who encourage fellow party members to vote as the party leaders desire Party caucus – a meeting at the beginning of a term where party officers are elected

9 Committees Standing Committees: permanent committees that address major areas under which most laws fall. -such as agriculture, the budget, and armed services Ways and Means Committee – deals with taxes and other revenue raising measures; oversees programs like Social Security. Standing committees have at least 4 subcommittees, which focus even more narrowly on an issue.

10 Other Committees Rules Committee: very powerful; acts like a “traffic cop” for the House -it can speed up or delay passage of a bill Select Committees: usually serve a limited duration; cover tasks not already covered by existing committees, such as investigations. Joint Committees: address broad issues that affect both chambers (like a conference committee)

11 Committee Chairs Chairs are chosen by the majority party
Chairs used to be chosen based on the committee member who served in the committee longest. In the 1970s, Congress began holding elections for committee chairs. Seniority is still important, but is no longer the only factor considered. Today there is a 6-year term limit for chairs.

12 Committee Membership Members request committee assignments.
May seek a post because it is important to their constituents or because it is politically powerful or based on personal interests. A member may have to campaign among colleagues Paid staff do much of the background preparation work for the committee members. Typical committee’s staff include: managers, lawyers, policy experts, and office staff.

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