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Congress. How is Congress different from Parliament? Congress Role of party in election Independent powers from other branches Can’t be part of other.

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Presentation on theme: "Congress. How is Congress different from Parliament? Congress Role of party in election Independent powers from other branches Can’t be part of other."— Presentation transcript:

1 Congress


3 How is Congress different from Parliament? Congress Role of party in election Independent powers from other branches Can’t be part of other branches Individuals have much more power (start bills, franking, Confirmation ) Parliament Role of party in election (get on ballot by convincing your party to place your name there) More loyal to their party Majority party chooses executive (Prime Minister) Members have very little actual power

4 How is Congress different from Parliament? Congress is made up of people chosen to represent the state and district. Parliament represents their party Members or Congress are more concerned with their own constituents and careers than their party.

5 Make sure you read the evolution of Congress

6 Congress As of 2009, 82% of HR is male and 18% is female. 17% Senate is female The Senate is 1% African American and the House is approximately 9.6% African American the Senate is 3% Hispanic and the House is approximately 5% Hispanic

7 Population of USA from Census Bureau (2010 abstract) White population 66% Black 13% Hispanic 15% Male 49% Female 51%

8 Incumbency rate in Congress


10 House of Representatives

11 House of Representatives (435 seats) Party Divisions (February 9, 2011) 242 Republicans 193 Democrats 0 Independents

12 HR Vacancies

13 After 2010 Census


15 Nebraska’s Congressional Districts Lee Terry Jeff Fortenberry Adrian Smith

16 Marginal District: Where a winner gets less than 55% of the vote. Safe District: Where the winner gets more than 55% of the vote In the 1960’s 60% of the HR districts were safe in the 1980’s 90% of the House districts are “safe” In 2008, 2/3rd of the Senators won with 60% of the vote.

17 Why have House Districts become safer for incumbents? Free mail, travel at taxpayers expense, get their name in the news more, name recognition Secure funds and programs to help their districts

18 Senate Today 100 seats Party Divisions (as of January 2011) 51 Democrats 47 Republicans 2 Independent (lean left)

19 Theories on how members of Congress Behave Representational –Vote to please their constituents because they want to get re elected –A congressman with a large African American population will likely vote for a civil rights law. –Gun rights (South Dakota Congressman would most likely vote for it. –Generally there isn’t any correlation between voter opinion and Congressional votes on issues that people don’t have a strong opinion (foreign relations) or issues that are split in the district (abortion) –Often time public opinion isn’t strong or is split.

20 Organizational –Based on the assumption that since most constituents do not know how their legislator has voted, it is not essential to please them. –When constituency opinions are not at stake Congress gets their cues from their colleagues. –The principle cue is his or her party –The party a member belongs explains more about his or her voting record more than any other single factor

21 –If the party doesn’t have a clear position on a policy then a Congressperson might look at the committee members from your party who dealt with the particular bill. –May look to other Congress members with similar views as you. –If it is a matter that effects your state then you may take your cue from other members of your states delegation (Senators and Representatives from your state) Ellsworth Air force Base

22 Attitudinal –That there are so many conflicting pressures on members of Congress that they cancel each other out, leaving them virtually free to vote their own beliefs. –Ideology of a member effects how he or she votes. –Many tend to be consistently liberal or conservative on both domestic and foreign policy. –On many issues the average member of the HR has opinions close to the average voter –However, the Senate are less in tune with public opinion. (more liberal or conservative)

23 Ideology in Congress Members of Congress are more sharply divided by political ideology than they once were. Since 1998 Congress is more divided on ideological and partisan lines. Are also more divided than the average voter so it is harder to reach a conscientious and less likely to negotiate.

24 Party Unity Party Polarization: When Democrats and Republicans vote opposite on most bills. In Congress The parties seem to take the extreme sides on issues where the public takes more moderate stances –Example: Abortion –Most Americans support but with some important restrictions (health of mother, age, etc) –Congress: Democrats support with no restrictions and Republics oppose for all reasons

25 House voting with Party (2008-10) From These scores represent the percentage of votes on which a lawmaker agrees with the position taken by a majority of his or her party members. The scores do not include missed votes. All lawmakers who served during this congress are included. Party Voting Averages Democratic (236 members) –92.3% Republican(205 members) –85.4% All Members(441 members) –89.1%

26 Senate voting with party (2008-10) These scores represent the percentage of votes on which a lawmaker agrees with the position taken by a majority of his or her party members. The scores do not include missed votes. All lawmakers who served during this congress are included. Party Voting Averages Democratic (49 members) –87.3% Republican(49 members) –81.4% All Members (100 members) –84.4%

27 HR Voting with partyVoting with party Senate Voting with partyVoting with party

28 Some theories why is Congress becoming more partisan Most House districts are not competitive so the only election that matters in that district is the primary. –Primary turnout is lower and usually the more ideological voters participate. Around 10% (?) –This means that those on the extremes will have a better chance of getting elected. Voters have become more partisan and Congress has followed suit.

29 Party does make a difference in Congress. Not nearly as much as it does in parliament but party affiliation is the most important thing to know about a member. Knowing the party of a member will not tell you all you need to know, but it will tell you more than any other single factor.

30 Organization of the Senate Vice President –Presiding officer –Can only vote in a tie breaker –Can’t introduce legislation President Pro Tempore (Pres Pro Tem) –Largely honorary position –Required by Constitution –Presiding officer when VP isn’t present –Given to majority party member with most seniority

31 Senate Majority Leader Whip –Senator that helps the party stay informed about what party members in the Senate are thinking. –Helps to round up votes.

32 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Dem) Nevada

33 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Rep) Kentucky

34 Vice President Joe Biden (D) Tie breaking votes

35 President Pro Tempore Daniel Inouye Democrat, Hawaii

36 Richard Durbin Majority Whip From Illinois Assumed office January 7, 1997

37 Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona

38 South Dakota Senators John Thune (Rep) Tim Johnson (Dem)

39 Organization of the House of Representatives Speaker of the House –Chosen form majority party –Principle leader of the majority party –Presiding office of the entire House Majority Leader –Floor leader from the majority party –Typically becomes the speaker when the person in that position dies or retires Minority Leader Whip

40 John Boehner Republican Ohio Speaker of the House

41 House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Virginia)

42 Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California

43 Nancy Pelosi (Dem) California Minority Leader

44 House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Maryland)

45 South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem (Republican)

46 Congressional Committees Standing Committees –More or less permanent bodies with specific legislative responsibilities –These are the most important type –They can propose legislation by reporting it to the full HR or Senate –Usually each HR member is on 2 and each Senator is on 2 “major” committee and 1 “minor” committee. Select Committee –groups appointed for a limited purpose and only last for a few congresses

47 Joint Committee –Have both members of the HR and Senate –Most important one is the “Conference Committee” Committee Chairpersons always come from the majority party There will always be more majority party members in each committee.

48 Senate Committees House Committees

49 Most work of Congress gets done at the committee level.

50 Congressional Caucuses An association of members of Congress created to advocate a political ideology or a regional or economic interest. List of caucuses Personal interest Caucus –Common interest like environment, the arts, etc. Constituency caucuses –Established to represent certain groups (Vietnam Vets, African Americans etc) Intraparty Caucuses –Coalition and are often moderate (Blue Dog Democrats)

51 Staff Agencies Congressional Research Service (CRS) –Provides information to members on Congress –It is politically neutral –It provides facts and doesn’t recommend policy –Also keeps track of every major bill and produces summaries for each bill introduced

52 General Accounting Office (GAO) –Produced financial audits of money spent –It also investigates agencies and policies and makes recommendations on almost every aspect of government Defense contracts, Drug enforcement policy, FBI, etc. Congressional Budget Office (CBA) –Advises Congress on the likely economic effect of different spending programs and provides information on the cost of proposed policies. –Provides an analyses of the President’s budget and economic projections (These economic projections are often different from the Presidents)

53 Bill to law Vote-smart explanation


55 Introducing a Bill Only by members of Congress Public Bill –Pertaining to public affairs) Private Bill –Pertaining to a particular individual –Example: seeking special permission to become an American citizen

56 Simple Resolution –Passed by either HR or Senate –Used to establish rules that each body will operate Concurrent resolution –Settles housekeeping and procedural matters that affect both houses Joint Resolution –Requires the approval of both houses and signature of the President –Is essentially the same as a law. –Constitutional Amendment proposals are joint but don’t require the President to sign them.


58 After the bill is introduced it is referred to committee Sequential Referral –The speaker refers a bill, or parts of a bill, to different committees. Committees are where most of the work of Congress gets done Committees do the following –Hold Hearings –Change the bill (majority vote) known as “mark up” –Pass or kill the bill (majority vote) Discharge Petition: Signed by 218 members of the HR that will move a bill to floor debate and vote even if the committee is opposed to the bill Very rarely ever happens (only a couple of dozen times in the last century) Easier to do this in the Senate but still rarely ever happens

59 House Rules Committee After a bill makes it past the HR committee but before it goes to the floor Closed rule –A strict time limit on debate and forbids amendments being added on the floor Open rule –Allows amendments on the floor Restrictive Rule –Permits some amendments but not others.

60 Bill then goes to the floor of Congress One the floor the following can happen: –Debate the bill –Change the bill (majority vote to change) –Pass or kill the bill (majority to pass) “Committee of the Whole” (HR) –Whoever is present –Can debate and change the bill Quorum –Majority of members (218 in HR) –Needed to pass the bill

61 House of Representatives “Committee of the Whole” (HR) –Whoever is present –Can debate and change the bill Quorum –Majority of members (218 in HR) –Needed to pass the bill

62 Senate Debate

63 Filibusters Traditional Double Track Legislation Cloture Rule

64 Famous Filibusters During the 1930s, Senator Huey P. Long effectively used the filibuster against bills that he thought favored the rich over the poor. The Louisiana senator frustrated his colleagues while entertaining spectators with his recitations of Shakespeare and his reading of recipes for "pot-likkers." Long once held the Senate floor for fifteen hoursHuey P. Long

65 Famous Filibusters South Carolina's J. Strom Thurmond who filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.J. Strom Thurmond He read recipes and names out of a phone book for part of the time.

66 Filibusters over time As of January, 2010 (Argus Leader)

67 After a bill passes both houses Conference committee Floor votes President –Sign –Veto Overriding a veto 96% of vetoes don’t get overridden –Do nothing Becomes law after 10 days Pocket veto: If congress adjourns before those ten days are up

68 Congressional Spending

69 Congressional Fiscal Powers Congress has all monetary powers Tax, Borrow, Spend “Power of the Purse”

70 Mandatory spending Discretionary Spending

71 Government Spending

72 National debt As of today today

73 What is difference between debt and deficit?

74 What is a trillion? If you spend a million dollar each day since Jesus was born you still wouldn’t have spend $1 trillion. ($733 billion) Argus Leader October 24, 2009 1 million seconds = 12 days 1 billion seconds = 32 years 1 trillion seconds = 32,000 years

75 $10,000

76 $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000)

77 $100 million

78 And $1 BILLION dollars

79 ONE TRILLION dollars

80 Loan calculator




84 USA Today, Feb. 27, 2009



87 ~ PORK ~

88 What are “Pork” or “Earmarks”? Government funding of something that benefits a particular district, whose legislator thereby wins favor with local voters. Earmarks are government funds that are allocated by a legislator for a particular pet project, often without proper review



91 According to

92 In fiscal year 2009, Congress stuffed 10,160 projects into the 12 appropriations bills worth $19.6 billion. Total pork identified by CAGW since 1991 adds up to $290 billion.

93 Earmarks of the Years on Defense spending bills

94 Cost of Earmarks on Defense spending bills in billions


96 USA Today, Feb. 27, 2009

97 2007 highway spending bill TIME, October 1, 2007 Even after the bridge collapse in Minneapolis in August, there are $2 billion in earmarks

98 $450,000 for North Dakotas International Peace Gardens. $100,000 in New York to help develop a nine hole golf course $250,000 for the state of Washington to promote the wine industry.

99 $50,000 for a mule museum in California

100 2008 Pork from

101 $246,100 by Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) for the Grand Opera House in Dell Rapids.

102 $551,250 for the Heart of America Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge;

103 $98,000 to develop a walking tour of Boydton. The town has a population of 474, and covers.82 square miles.

104 $98,000 for renovations to the Wakely Lodge Resort, the site of a nine-hole public golf course in Indian Lake.

105 $1.8 million for swine odor and manure management research in Iowa

106 $2,265,000 for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin

107 2009 Pork $1 million to control Mormon crickets in Utah $173,000 for research on asparagus production in Washington

108 What would cutting pork do? IF we cut $17 billion (pork in 2009) out of a $1 trillion deficit…


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