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The United States Congress. Congress Bicameral Legislature Members v. Body as a whole Local v. National interests.

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Presentation on theme: "The United States Congress. Congress Bicameral Legislature Members v. Body as a whole Local v. National interests."— Presentation transcript:

1 The United States Congress

2 Congress Bicameral Legislature Members v. Body as a whole Local v. National interests

3 Functions of Congress Rule Initiation/pass laws Interest representation Rule interpretation through appropriations and oversight Constituency service

4 Senate 6 year terms 2 per state/larger constituency 100 members Unlimited debate/filibuster Less specialization Greater media coverage Often nationally known

5 House of Representatives 2 year terms 435 seats, plus one nonvoting rep. from DC Population – based Debate limited, more formal More specialization Constituencies smaller

6 Apportionment & Districting Apportionment—number of seats given in each state; based on census (new census every 10 years) Districting

7 Gerrymandering – when state legislators draw congressional district lines in order to manipulate the outcome of elections Silent gerrymandering – the under- representation of cities & over-representation of rural areas that occurs when people move from rural to urban areas but he state legislature fails to redistrict to account for the changes

8 The Culture of Congress Informal Norms---unwritten rules to follow; violate and you will be ostracized

9 The Culture of Congress 1.Work hard 2.Specialize (esp. in House) 3.Honesty 4.Courtesy 5.Reciprocity

10 Congressional Culture Norms can change and some change is ok under certain circumstances 1.Volatile issues such as abortion 2.Increased partisanship 3.Scandals 4.More Junior members

11 Party Leaders in the House Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL)

12 Speaker of the House Member of majority party Presiding officer of the House Public spokesperson for party Can recognize members during floor debate Refers bills to committtees Appoints members to ad hoc, conference and special investigating committees

13 Majority Floor Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) Leader and spokesman of his party during floor debates General asst. to Speaker Helps schedule floor action Confers with other party leadership Helps round up votes on bills

14 Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Duties similar to majority floor leader Top leader in minority party

15 House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) Liaison between party leaders and rank and file Main responsibility to round up votes Assisted by deputy and regional whips

16 Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) Round up votes

17 House Leadership House Republican Conference Democratic Caucus

18 Senate Leadership President of the Senate US VP Richard Cheney Can preside over Senate Vote if a tie occurs Not actual member of Senate Cannot debate Seldom attends

19 President Pro Tempore (Senate) Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) Presiding officer if VP not there Honorary position Majority party member

20 Majority Leader (Senate) Bill Frist (R-TN) Similar role as House counterpart Party’s most powerful leader

21 Asst. Majority Leader (Senate) Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

22 Minority Leader (Senate) Harry Reid (D-Nevada)

23 Asst. Minority Leader (Senate) Dick Durbin (D-IL)

24 Selecting Party Leaders Both majority and minority parties nominate someone Body votes usually along party lines Speaker (as of 1995) limited to four consecutive 2 year terms

25 The Committee System House has 19 standing committees Senate has 17 standing committees Both also have special, select, and joint committees See handout See handout and and for most recent listswww.senate.gov

26 Congressional Committees On each committee, the majority of members party chooses a chair and it is usually the person with most seniority. Each committee usually has several subcommittees. These smaller groups focus on specific issues and draft bills to be introduced or consider bills already introduced.

27 Congressional Committees (cont) Many bills are introduced on behalf of various interest groups. Subcommittee members or their staffs often meet with such groups who try to influence outcomes.

28 Types of Congressional Committees There are four kinds of committees, each with a full staff. A Senator may sit on 10 committees or subcommittees. A representative on at least 5.

29 Standing Committees Permanent committees Determine whether a bill is introduced to the full chamber Both Chambers have appropriations, armed services, the budget, small business, the judiciary, agriculture, veterans affairs, et al.

30 Select or Special Committees Temporary committees Examine a special, specific issue Each new congress decides whether to renew At the conclusion, issues a report May become standing committee

31 Joint Committees Have members from both house and senate Investigate problems of national concern Example: Joint Economic Committee DO NOT PROPOSE LEGISLATION Leadership rotates between house and Senate

32 Conference Committees Work on bills that have passed in both House and Senate Work out differences between house and senate versions of bills Revised bill sent back to chamber (house or senate) for another vote

33 How a Bill Becomes a Law 4 types of bills—regular bills, joint resolutions, simple resolutions and concurrent resolutions

34 Who Proposes/Drops Bills? Individual members or groups of members can propose a bill. Usually proposed in committee. The executive branch proposes and writes many bills Bills can be proposed and written by special interest groups working with members.

35 Path of a Bill See Chalkboard

36 Compromise, Logrolling & Pork Need to compromise Logrolling—You scratch my back and I will scratch yours Pork or Pork Barrel – term used to refer to amendments to legislation that give monies to special projects for a congressperson’s district

37 Representation How to represent District v. Country as a whole


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