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Chapter 7 Congress at Work. 7.1 What are the different types of bills & resolutions? Private bills: indiv. people/places (e.g. claims against gov’t, immigration)

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 7 Congress at Work. 7.1 What are the different types of bills & resolutions? Private bills: indiv. people/places (e.g. claims against gov’t, immigration)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 7 Congress at Work

2 7.1 What are the different types of bills & resolutions? Private bills: indiv. people/places (e.g. claims against gov’t, immigration) Public bills: apply to entire nation (e.g. taxes, health care, security) Approx. 30% of total Resolutions  Simple: one house, internal issue  Joint: H&S, “law” w/Pres signature  Concurrent: H&S, issues concerning Congress Riders: unrelated provisions  Used to “sneak” in a proposal or to “poison pill”

3 7.1 Why do most bills never become laws? Less than 5% become public laws Process is long and complicated (100+ steps)  Advantage: opponents  Proponents must compromise (and not tick off powerful interests) Sometimes just for show

4 7.1 What occurs before a bill is debated on the floor? Introduction (either house, except $)  Sometimes simultaneously in both houses  Sponsors/co-sponsors  1st Reading Committee Action  Hearings: testimony, debate  Staff research  Markup session  Report, amend, kill, “pigeonhole”

5 7.1 What happens during floor action? Second reading  Amendments offered after each section  House can adopt “closed rule” Debate  Majority approve any changes Voting (quorum needed)  Third reading (with changes)  Voice  Standing/division  Recorded/Roll-call

6 7.1 What are the final steps in passing a bill? Conference Committee  Make identical version-- typically experts  Almost always issue conference report Presidential Action  Sign, “pocket pass”, pocket veto, veto Congressional Override  2/3 vote of House and Senate- -RARE

7 7.2 What is the role of Congress regarding taxes? Taxes as % of GDP are LOW!  US=30%  UK=34%  France=44%  Sweden=50% All revenue bills must start in House  House Ways & Means Committee  Senate Finance Committee Major reductions 2001—more on the way?

8 7.2 What is the role of Cong. regarding spending money? U.S. spends over $2 trill/yr. (debt v. deficit) Congress appropriates—approves—government spending Authorization vs. Appropriation President submits a budget proposal H & S Appropriations Committees  Hear testimony on value of gov. programs Uncontrollables vs. Discretionary (2:1)  Entitlements: SS, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

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10 7.3 How do voters influence Congress? Constituents: people one is elected to serve Needs of constituents vs. personal beliefs  Daily life=constituents, Other=personal Taking the Pulse:  Visits home  Letters/Calls/ s/Visits  Polls  Big supporters’ wish lists Voters are IGNORANT!  Opponents enlighten, incumbents do the same

11 7.3 How do political parties influence Congress? The more important the issue to the parties, the more partisan the vote Some issues aren’t clearly defined by parties Parties do mean something:  R: less spending, local solutions, business and $$  D: social-welfare, tax help for ¢, regulate business Sometimes Congress people are ignorant too!  Vote with respected colleagues  Vote how the people with big sticks tell you to

12 7.3 What are the other influences on Congress? President  Proposals, media pressure, favors/punish Interest Groups  Lobbyists, info, citizen action, testimony, $ Political Action Committees (PACs)  Political fundraising organizations Personality Nature of issue (personal vs. people) Congressional staff

13 7.4 How do lawmakers help individual constituents? Casework: helping people w/problems  Caseworkers handle small problems  Lawmakers handle big problems Why bother?  Votes, oversight, it’s the nice thing to do Helping the folks back home  Pork-barrel: bring home the (bacon) public works logrolling  Federal grants/contracts: get a return on tax $ Military contracts, federal projects, etc.


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