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Congressional Committees Chapter 5.4 Government Mr. Biggs.

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1 Congressional Committees Chapter 5.4 Government Mr. Biggs

2 Both the House and Senate depend upon committees to effectively consider the thousands of bills that are proposed each session. The committee system serves several important purposes: It allows Congress to divide their work Lawmakers can become specialists on issues Committees can weed through all bills It allows for public hearings to keep people informed Purpose of Committees Al Franken Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Bill Gates

3 Congress has four kinds of committees: Standing Committees Select Committees Joint Committees Conference Committees Kinds of Committees Standing Committees Standing committees are permanent groups that oversee bills that deal with certain kinds of issues. They continue from one Congress to the next. The majority party in each house controls the standing committees and selects the chairperson. Senate committee on the budget Subcommittees Most standing committees have several subcommittees. Each subcommittee specializes in a subcategory of its standing committee. They usually continue from one Congress to the next. MLB subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce

4 Select Committees Select committees are temporary committees that study one specific issue and report their findings. They are usually set up to last no more than one term of Congress. Joint Committees Joint committees are made up of members from both the House and the Senate and may be either temporary or permanent. They usually act as study groups with responsibility for reporting their findings back to the House and Senate.

5 No bill can be sent from Congress to the president until both houses have passed it in identical form. A conference committee is a temporary committee set up when the House and Senate have passed different versions of the same bill. Its job is to resolve the differences between the two versions of the bill. When the conference committee’s report (bill) reaches the floor of each house, it may not be amended. It must be accepted or rejected as a whole. Conference Committees

6 Choosing Committee Members A congressmen’s assignment to a committee can: Increase their chance of reelection Allow them to influence national lawmaking Exert influence over other members of Congress Key House committees are: Rules – Considerations and order of business Ways and Means – Chief tax writing Judiciary – Law, courts and judges Appropriations – Allocates federal funds Key Senate committees are: Foreign Relations – Leads foreign policy Finance – Bonds, customs and money Judiciary – Law, courts and judges Appropriations – Allocates federal funds

7 The chairpersons of standing committees are some of the most powerful members of Congress because they: Determine when committees will be held Decide when hearings will be conducted Establish budgets and hire staff Manage floor debates The seniority system gives the member of the political party with the longest uninterrupted service on a particular committee the leadership of that committee. Criticisms of this system have resulted in a limit on how long a Chairperson can hold the position. Assignment to Committees The political parties assign members to standing committees. Members may request a committee assignment. The Committee Chairperson’s Role The Seniority System

8 The End


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