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Section 1- The National Legislature.  We have a representative democracy— we do not literally make the laws (representatives handle the day to day tasks)

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Presentation on theme: "Section 1- The National Legislature.  We have a representative democracy— we do not literally make the laws (representatives handle the day to day tasks)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Section 1- The National Legislature

2  We have a representative democracy— we do not literally make the laws (representatives handle the day to day tasks)  Constitution establishes a bicameral legislature (two houses)---It does so for historical, practical, and theoretical reasons

3  Historical- British Parliament bicameral since (1300’s) , all but two state legislatures were bicameral---Only Nebraska is unicameral today  Practical- Framers had to settle dispute between Virginia (population) and New Jersey (equal) plans. Bicameralism is a reflection of federalism  Theoretical- One house can check on the other. Framers saw congress as ruling new government (two houses stop from dominating other branches)-p.270

4  Term in Congress last 2 years—the term starts and ends on January 3 (20 th Amendment/odd years)  Sessions- Congress has one session per year (convenes/starts Jan. 3 rd, unless specified)---Section 2, 20 th Amendment - Sessions may last most of the year-currently (do not adjourn)---Both houses will recess (small break) several times a year - -President has the power to prorogue (end session) if houses cant agree on an adjournment date (has never happened)

5  Special Sessions- Only can be called by the President to deal with an emergency - Most recent- President Truman (1948)—deal with the aftermath of WWII - Special sessions of Congress called 27 times---Senate alone called 46 times (last 1933)---House never called alone - Because Congress meets most of the year— less special sessions, President will use as a threat if they do not come to an agreement

6 The House of Representatives

7  435 members—not set by Constitution, but by Congress  Additional reps (not full members)- Guam, Virgin Islands, Wash. D.C., American Samoa, and Puerto Rico  Two years terms short (must pay attention to “folks back home”)  No constitutional limit on the number of terms a Representative can serve

8  Congress reapportions (redistributes) the amount of seats every ten years (census)  As population grew, so did the number of seats in the house (originally 65)  Reapportionment Act of Set permanent number at 435 (each represents some 700,000 people). Census Bureau reapportions every ten years. Congress could change if chooses.  Map. P274 (Wisconsin 8 seats)

9  Congressional elections are held on even years (first Tuesday, following the first Monday in November)  Off-Year elections—those held on years with no Presidential election (2010, 2014)---Usually the President’s party loses seats in this election  435 separate congressional districts each have one seat in house---Congressional districts are drawn by State and must be Contiguous (not broken up)---Not followed by states (today often broken up and varying populations)

10  The odd districts or Gerrymandering is done usually for two reasons 1) concentrate opposition into one area or 2) spread the opposition thinly among districts to benefit one party (pa. 276)  Because of this, only a few seats are actually at risk in a given election

11  This case limited some concern over districts by requiring districts to be close in population (still can draw unfair lines)  Can not set lines based on race (breaks 15 th amendment  Some tried in order to get more Latinos in Congress in 2000

12  Must be 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least 7 years, and a resident of the state he/she is elected (custom/not law says they should be from the district they represent)  House may reject a member or punish for disorderly behavior by majority vote (ex- rejected Brigham Roberts (Utah) in 1919 because he was a polygamist  Powell v McCormick (1969) no longer can reject someone who meets the standards

13  They have reprimanded or expelled several for other reasons…1990 Barney Frank (Mass) for relationship with male prostitute, reelected several times after— 2005 Randy Cunningham (Calf.) for bribery  Incumbents win an average of 90% of the time when they seek reelection  Average campaign cost over 1 million

14 The Senate

15  Currently 100 members (2 from each state)—original framers had only 22 members (1789)  Each member represents an entire state 17 th Amendment (voters choose)— originally state legislatures Six year terms (no limit on # of terms) A third of the seats are up for election every two years (continuous body- not all seats up at one time)

16  Longer terms make them less vulnerable to public pressure  Tend to be covered by the media more than the house

17  30 years of age, Citizen in the U.S. for at least 9 years, and an inhabitant of the state in which elected  May exclude a member by majority vote  Ethics committee can find them guilty of a crime (rare)

18 The Members of Congress

19  White males in their 50’s---more women, African Americans, Hispanics, and even Asian Americans  Nearly a third of senators served in the House  Not an accurate cross section of Americas population (mainly upper-middle-class)

20  Members of both houses play 5 major roles 1) Legislators 2) Representation of their constituents 3) Committee members 4) Servants of their constituents 5) Politicians

21  Representative of the people- Cast hundreds of votes in 4 manners: 1) Delegates: Agents of the people (what do people back home want) 2) Trustee: Call issues as they see them (even if against majority) 3) Partisans: Believe owe first allegiance to party (many believe this is the leading factor) 4) Politicos- Try to balance the previous 3. vote on what is best for the constituents and/or nation as a whole.

22  Servants of the people…mostly try to help through federal bureaucracy (social security, small business loan, etc.)  Compensation: - Constitutions says they fixes it’s own pay - Most make approx. $174,000 a year (speaker, vice pres., pro temp, and floor leaders slightly more). - Fringe Benefits: tax reductions, travel allowance, low health costs, generous retirement, staff allowance, no postage, etc.

23  Only 2 ways to control congressional pay. 1) President Veto 2) Fear of voter backlash in the next election - Additional: Speeches only questioned on floor and nowhere else (courts)--- important for open minded debate


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