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Chapter Eleven Congress. Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. 11-2 Structure and Powers of Congress Congress has two separate chambers.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter Eleven Congress. Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. 11-2 Structure and Powers of Congress Congress has two separate chambers."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter Eleven Congress

2 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Structure and Powers of Congress Congress has two separate chambers. Representation in the House is based on population. Each state has two senators.

3 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Structure and Powers of Congress (Cont’d) The Constitution gives the House and Senate essentially similar legislative tasks, though each has powers that are only its own. The House initiates impeachment proceedings against a President or federal judges. Bills with revenue must originate in the House.

4 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Structure and Powers of Congress (Cont’d) The Senate impeachment trial votes to convict the President or federal judges and remove them from office. The Senate must approve major presidential appointments. The Senate has the sole power to affirm treaties.

5 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Electing Congress Incumbents have a very high rate of return to Congress. Incumbents remain protected by district lines that are gerrymandered to protect incumbents or the dominant party during the process of district reapportionment every ten years after the federal census is conducted.

6 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Electing Congress (Cont’d) Name recognition, largely through media exposure, contributes to voters’ familiarity with the incumbent. Casework, or services to constituents, further provides an electoral advantage to the incumbent over the challenger.

7 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Figure 11.1: Incumbents: Life is Good

8 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Electing Congress (Cont’d) The opposing party and sympathetic PACs may target vulnerable incumbents, thus giving a challenger a better chance to succeed. The members of Congress are not representative of the U.S. population in terms of demographics and thus do not meet the descriptive representation criteria.

9 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Electing Congress (Cont’d) A Supreme Court ruling in 1993 ruled states’ efforts to increase minority representation through racial gerrymandering unconstitutional.

10 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved The Congressional Agenda Some issues get on the agenda because an event (like Sept. 11th) draws our attention to a problem. Presidential support can also move an issue onto the agenda quickly. Congressional party leaders and committee chairs have the best opportunity to influence the agenda.

11 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved The Legislative Process: An Overview After being introduced, bills go to committee and then usually to a subcommittee. After a bill has been passed by a committee, it goes to the full membership for debate, possible amendment, and a vote. The President may sign or veto any bill that Congress has passed.

12 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Figure 11.4: The Legislative Process

13 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Committees: The Workhorses of Congress Congress has committees for the same reason that any large organization is subdivided into specialized groups or divisions: to develop and use expertise in specific areas. Committee types include standing, joint, select and conference.

14 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Committees: The Workhorses of Congress (Cont’d) Influence on committees grows formally with seniority and informally with increased expertise. Within each committee, the senior member of the majority party usually becomes the committee chair.

15 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Committees: The Workhorses of Congress (Cont’d) Much public policy decision-making takes place in committees and subcommittees, especially in markup sessions. To follow through on legislation, oversight is a process of reviewing the operations of an agency to determine whether it is carrying out policies as Congress intended.

16 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Committees: The Workhorses of Congress (Cont’d) Both pluralism and majoritarianism play a role in congressional behavior.

17 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Leaders and Followers in Congress Each of the two parties in the two houses has a leadership hierarchy.

18 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Leaders and Followers in Congress (Cont’d)

19 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Leaders and Followers in Congress (Cont’d) The operation of the House and the Senate is structured by both formal rules and informal norms. Unwritten norms of behavior help to keep both houses operating smoothly.

20 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved The Legislative Environment The most important influences that determine how a legislator will vote seem to be the following: Political parties The President Constituents Interest groups

21 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved The Dilemma of Representation All members of Congress live in two worlds. In Washington they spend time dealing with the great issues of national concern. But they also spend much of their time traveling back to their district or state, where they meet with constituents and give speeches to local groups.

22 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved The Dilemma of Representation (Cont’d) According to English political philosopher Edmund Burke, representatives are obligated to consider the views of their constituents, but they are not obligated to vote according to those views if they think they are misguided, termed a trustee.

23 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved The Dilemma of Representation (Cont’d) Other philosophers believe that a legislator’s primary responsibility is to represent the majority view of his or her constituents, regardless of their own view, known as a delegate.

24 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Pluralism, Majoritarianism, and Democracy The framework that legislators use in making decisions has broad implications for governing. Parliamentary systems are a point of comparison. They fit the majoritarian model of democracy to a much greater extent than does Congress.

25 Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved Pluralism, Majoritarianism, and Democracy (Cont’d) Congress’s inability to reduce the budget deficit in the 1980s and early 1990s reflected the pluralistic nature of congressional policymaking.


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