2What is the primary purpose of the legislative branch of government? To MAKE the laws.Congress is a body of elected officials who represent the interests of “we the people.”That is YOU and ME!!!
3Today we are going to look at how Congress works and their responsibilities to the people! There are a few basics you need to know:Lets start with “we the people.”What are the people a member of Congress represents called?CONSTITUENTS.
5Congressional Basics Is our Congress a bicameral or unicameral? We have a House of Representatives and a Senate and that is the Congress.How many members in the House?435 – based upon what?How many in the Senate?100 – 2 from each state, it is equal.How many members of Congress represent the people who live in Mt. Lebanon?in the House and 2 in the Senate.
6United States SenateWho represents Mt. Lebanon in the Senate?
7Senator Pat Toomey Born: November 11, 1961 Occupation: Restaurants and BankingMarried with three childrenReligion: Roman CatholicRepublican: First elected to the Senate inCurrent term expires in 2017Junior senator from Pennsylvania
8Senator Bob Casey Born: April 13, 1960 Occupation: Teacher & Attorney Married with 4 childrenReligion: Roman CatholicFirst elected to the Senate in 2006.Won re-election in 2012.Senior Senator from Pennsylvania.
9U. S. House of Representatives Mt. Lebanon’s elected representative in the 18th District is:
10Representative Tim Murphy Born: September 11, 1952Occupation: Child PsychologistMarried with 1 childReligion: Roman CatholicFirst elected to the House in 2002.Just re-elected in 2012 so he will be up for re-election when?
11So who do they represent? Question: Does a Member of Congress vote based upon the opinions and wishes of their constituents OR do they vote based upon their own judgment?Edmund Burke said that they must vote based upon their own judgment since they are in a better position to know the issues.
12Think about it…Do Senator Casey, Senator Toomey and Congressman Murphy reflect your opinions and values?If not – what can you do?Let’s look at who these guys represent…
15Congressional Districts Each district should have 600,000 – 650,000 residents. It can be any shape or size.
16How are districts determined? The first thing required is a census.What is a census?A count of the population of the nation.When do we take a census?Every 10 years. When was the last one?2010.Why do we take a census?To determine how many representatives are required for each state.How many districts does Pennsylvania have?
18Determining districts…. So who gets to draw all those squiggly little lines that are the district boundaries?The state legislatures.This is why it is very important to be the majority party in the state legislature right after the census. The majority party gets to redraw new lines if necessary.Who is the majority party in the PA legislature?The Republicans control both the House and the Senate.
19What is it called when a party redraws the line to help its own party candidates? Gerrymandering…What is “gerrymandering?”It is redrawing the congressional districts to help your party win more seats in the election and thereby keeping control of the legislature.Where did this originate?
20Elbridge Gerry He signed the Declaration of Independence. He attended the Constitutional Convention but refused to sign the Constitution because it did not have a Bill of Rights.He became governor of Massachusetts in when he “gerrymandered” districts in the state.It later cost him re-election as governor.
22That is who represents us and how the districts are set up. Now lets look at the process of representation by these elected officials.When candidates get elected…why do people vote for them?Normally it is because the candidate has formed a definite set of policies that people are in favor of and of which they approve.A policy is a plan of action to achieve a goal.Why would you vote for someone…maybe it is because they are for something you believe in.Examples: gun control, abortion, religion…
23What is the primary responsibility of Congress? To MAKE the laws.Laws come from ideas that come from constituents, companies, other politicians or anyone who needs help with an issue.After you have the idea…what is the next step in making a law?A member of Congress (either the House or Senate) introduces a bill.A bill is a proposed law.
24There are certain groups who want to influence the type of bill introduced? What are these group called?Special Interest Groups.These are people who have similar interests and goals. Can you think of any examples?A special interest group like the N.R.A. can have millions of members. Do they all go to Washington and talk to members of Congress about issues and bills?No? Well, who speaks on their behalf?Lobbyists: individuals hired to represent their interests and lobby for their groups policies.
25Qualifications to be a member of the United State Senate U. S. Senators elected statewide.Age?30 years of age.Citizenship?Must be a citizen of the U. S. 9 years.Term of office?6 yearsAre there term limits to be a U. S. Senator?No…as many times as the voters will elect you.Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) has been in the U.S. Senate since 1974.
26Qualifications to be a member of the U. S. House of Representatives Representatives elected from districtsAge?25 years of ageCitizenship?7 yearsTerm of office?2 yearsAre there term limits?No. As many times as you can re-elected.Rep. John Dingell (D – Michigan) was 1st elected in 1955 and is still there.
27So, lets review: What are Constituents? What are Congressional Districts?What is a Census?What is a Policy?What is a Bill?What are Special Interest Groups?What is a Lobbyist?What are qualifications to be a senator? ☺What is the term of office in the Senate? ☺What are the qualification to be a congressman? ☺What is the term of office in the House? ☺
28For the next class…. Read Chapter 8, Section 2. No written homework. This is on “The Powers of Congress.”We will look back at the Preamble of the Constitution and how Congress fulfills the requirements of the Preamble.We will look at both the power of Congress and the limits on the power of Congress.