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United States Congress

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1 United States Congress
Unit 4: Chapters 10-12

2 National Legislature Legislative Branch Basic Responsibilities:
Debate issues & pass laws, regulations Raise & lower taxes Approve government’s budget


4 National Legislature U.S. Capitol Building
Built following Revolutionary War Burned by British troops during War of 1812 Reconstruction completed by 1830 Housed the Senate, House, and Supreme Court Supreme Court moved out in 1935






10 National Legislature Bicameral Legislature (Two Houses)


12 National Legislature Bicameral Legislature (Two Houses) Senate
100 seats Apportioned equally between all states


14 National Legislature Bicameral Legislature (Two Houses) Senate
100 seats Apportioned equally between all states House of Representatives 435 seats Apportioned according to state’s population

15 Classwork: Page 262: Page 265:
Define 5 terms in “Political Dictionary” Page 265: Answer 1-7

16 National Legislature 113th Congress
Term – period following each election Lasts 2 years: Jan 3, 2013 – Jan 3, 2015 113th Congress Session: period while Congress assembles to conduct business 2 sessions each term, 1 each year 113th Congress is in its second session

17 National Legislature Recess – a break during a session
Holidays, etc. Adjourn: suspend work until next session Neither House nor Senate can adjourn without consent of the other Special session – President can call these to force Congress to deal with emergency situations Threatened often Not used much

18 House of Representatives:
Senate: Ted Cruz John Cornyn (Running for reelection) House of Representatives: Kenny Marchant


20 National Legislature Incumbent – Majority is EVERYTHING in Congress
Whichever political party has more than half of the seats can control much of what Congress gets done Priorities that are pursued; Laws that are passed Incumbent – An elected official already holding office Usually has a good chance of winning re-election

21 National Legislature Majority is EVERYTHING in Congress
Whichever political party has more than half of the seats can control much of what Congress gets done Priorities that are pursued Bills that are introduced Laws that are passed

22 House of Representatives
435 Seats Apportioned, or distributed among states, based on their population ND, SD, MT, WY, DE – 1 each (at-large) California – 53 Texas– 36 Elected to serve a 2 year term in office Elections held even numbered years Tuesday following 1st Monday of November

23 House of Representatives
Qualifications 25 years old Citizen of U.S. for at least 7 years Inhabitant of state they represent (informal – inhabitant of district they represent)

24 Senate 100 seats 2 for every state Elected to serve a 6 year term
Staggered: 1/3 up for election every 2 years Qualifications 30 Years old Citizen of US for at least 9 years Inhabitant of the state they represent

25 Demographics of Congress
102 women, 433 men Religion: 3 practicing Buddhist 45 Jews 2 Muslim 1 Hindu The rest are Christians (56% Protestant, 31% Catholic)

26 Demographics of Congress
Previous Jobs 225 hold law degrees 24 worked in medicine 15 worked in law enforcement 43 are African American (Roland Burris is only in Senate) 37 are Hispanic 13 Asian / Pacific Islander 2 Native American

27 Congressional Powers Chapter 11

28 Congressional Powers Expressed or Implied Powers: Congress has only the powers given by the Constitution Power to tax Direct tax – paid directly to government by purchaser (sales tax) Indirect tax – paid by one, then cost is passed on to another party Cigarette Tax – company just raises price of product Power to borrow money Current National Debt: $16,100,000,000,000 $51,000 per citizen Deficit Financing: the practice of financing government by borrowing to make up the difference between spending and revenue

29 Congressional Powers Power to make currency
Legal Tender: money that a creditor must accept as payment Power to make Bankruptcy laws Regulate interstate and foreign commerce Power over Foreign Relations Power to sign or not sign treaties / agreements w/ other countries Power to Declare War (& control the President’s budget for war) Power over Naturalization Process How immigrants can become citizens Power over Postage fees Power over Patents on new inventions Power over Territories Eminent Domain: power to take private property for public use

30 Non Legislative Powers
Propose Amendments to Constitution Electoral College House choose a new President if no one won a majority of electoral votes Senate chooses Vice President (can be opposite party!!) Impeachments Appointments New members of Supreme Court Senate approves members of President’s Cabinet (advisors) Investigations Clinton’s “relationship” with a White House intern

31 Impeachment 1. House of Representatives brings formal charges against an elected official “Impeach” – means to bring formal charges Impeach with a simple majority (51%) 2. Senate puts the person on trial; acts as jury Must have 2/3 of Senate to convict Penalty for conviction is removal from office Can also prohibit from ever holding office again If no conviction, the person is acquitted An official can be “impeached” without being convicted

32 Impeachment 17 impeachments, 7 convictions
All convictions were Federal judges Two Presidents have been impeached, both acquitted 1. Andrew Johnson Handling South after Civil War Impeachment was political revenge 2. Bill Clinton Perjury - lying under oath Clinton was censured – formal condemnation of his behavior Richard Nixon resigned just before impeachment (Watergate Scandal) Senate probably would have convicted

33 Congressional Leadership
Senate President of the Senate Also known as VP (Biden) Breaks ties; is usually absent President Pro Tempore (Leahy) Presides in absence of VP Longest serving member Majority Leader (Reid) Chief spokesman for Majority party Controls the order of business *Most powerful position in Senate Minority Leader (McConnell) Chief spokesman for Minority party

34 Congressional Leadership
House Speaker of the House (Boehner) Presiding officer & member of majority party Controls the order of business *Most powerful position in Congress Majority Leader (Cantor) Spokesman for Majority party Minority Leader (Pelosi) Spokesman for Minority party Whips Assist the majority / minority leaders

35 Congress in Action Chapter 12

36 Congress in Action Lawmaking – passing new legislation
Casework – helping constituents Pork Barreling / Earmarking Getting federal funds for local projects that benefit their district (& nobody else) Roads, parks, research grants, construction contracts Popular if YOU benefit, but not if you don’t Oversight Continual process of reviewing executive branch and government organizations

37 How a Bill becomes a Law: House
Bill – a proposed law that is presented to the House or the Senate for consideration Title is given based on where it originates, and a number H.R or S. 611 Rider – an attachment to a bill that is about an unrelated matter First Reading Speaker of House refers the bill to an appropriate committee

38 How a Bill becomes a Law: House
Committees debate the issue Every Congressman is member of at least one Education, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Indian Affairs, Veterans Call in experts to advise May re-write parts of the bill Most bills are “pigeonholed” Put away, never to be acted upon Also called “dying in committee” Some are discharged Sent back to the full House to be read and voted on Only good bills make it this far

39 How a Bill becomes a Law: House
Debate on the House floor is strictly limited No one can debate for over one hour (unlike in the Senate) Vote is finally held If passed, it transfers to Senate for their approval Must pass in BOTH houses before it becomes a law Must be identical

40 How a Bill becomes a Law: Senate
Senate also uses Committees to look closely at bills If it makes it out of committee, bill read to full Senate & debated before vote Floor debate is unrestrained in the Senate Once you receive permission to speak

41 How a Bill becomes a Law: Senate
Filibuster: Senator talking nonstop, trying to prevent action on a bill Tying up the Senate for so long that the leadership is forced to drop the bill in order to go on to other work Huey Long of Louisiana Filibustered for 15 hours straight in 1935 Strom Thurmond of South Carolina Filibustered for 24 hours & 18 minutes in 1957 Trying to keep Senate from approving Civil Rights legislation Cloture Only way to end a filibuster, but 2/3 of Senate must agree

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