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Daily Dilemma: Are legislators more like trustees or delegates? (p. 377) THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH.

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Presentation on theme: "Daily Dilemma: Are legislators more like trustees or delegates? (p. 377) THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH."— Presentation transcript:

1 Daily Dilemma: Are legislators more like trustees or delegates? (p. 377) THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

2 The Origin and Powers of Congress  The Great Compromise: The U.S. Congress has 2 chambers.  Senate– Equal representation for all states  House of Representatives– Based on state’s population and reassessed by the census every 10 years  The House and Senate share many powers including the power to declare war, raise an army and navy, borrow and coin money, regulate interstate commerce, create federal courts, establish rules for the naturalization of immigrants and “make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers.”

3 House of Representatives  Alone can originate revenue bills  Has the power of impeachment– charging a president, vice president, and other “civil officers” of the national government with serious crimes

4 Senate  Has the power to try impeachments with the chief justice of the Supreme Court presiding. A 2/3 majority vote of the senators present is necessary for conviction  Can approve major presidential appointments (federal judgeships, ambassadorships and cabinet posts) and treaties with foreign nations

5 Electing Congress  The incumbency effect: The reelection rate is very high for Congress. More than 90% of House incumbents have held their seats. Senate races are more competitive but incumbents still have high rates of re-election. I. Redistricting II. Name Recognition III. Casework IV. Campaign Financing V. Successful Challengers VI. 2012 Election

6 Redistricting  Gerrymandering– redrawing a congressional district to intentionally benefit one political party.  Some argue that gerrymandering contributes to the increasing pattern of polarization between the two parties in the House  Minnesota election examples 2012

7 Name Recognition  Holding office brings the advantages of name recognition and the franking privilege– you can send mail to constituents for free

8 Case Work  Casework– services for constituent  Tracking down a Social Security check  Directing the owner of a small business to the right federal agency  Not only will that person probably vote for the legislator, but he or she will spread the word  “Casework is all profit.”

9 Campaign Financing  Challengers must spend large sums of money to run a strong campaign with as emphasis on advertising  “Bachmann got 50.5 percent of the vote in the 6th Congessional District to Democrat Jim Graves' 49.3 percent -- a difference of 4,207 votes and just outside the margin that would trigger an automatic recount.”

10 Successful Challengers  Some challengers beat incumbents. The opposing party and unsympathetic PACs may target incumbents who seem vulnerable because of age, lack of seniority, a scandal, being elected by a narrow margin or unfavorable redistricting.  Brings out higher quality challengers

11 Whom Do we Elect?  Most members of Congress are upper-class professionals– lawyers and business people  44% are millionaires  Women and minorities have long been under-represented– their numbers in Congress are nowhere near their population at large  20 women are now in the Senate (following the election) the most in history  Descriptive representation– a legislature should resemble the demographic characteristics of the population


13 2010 Election  Democrats lost over 60 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate…  Economic uncertainty  Anger over Obamacare (healthcare policies) and economic stimulus  Mobilized Republican base  Lethagic liberal base frustrated by the failure of the Obama administration

14 Approval Rating of Congress  A record 84 percent of Americans say they disapprove of the way the Congress is doing its job compared with just 13 percent who approve of how things are going, according to a Washington Post/ABC News public opinion poll published on January 12, 2012. (Reuters News Service)

15 Should gerrymandering be used to promote the election of minorities?  Thornburg v. Gingles (1986) pushed states to concentrate minorities in House districts  States redrew boundaries in the 1990 census with the intent of creating districts with majority or near-majority minority populations  Shaw v. Reno ruled that racial gerrymandering segregated blacks from whites instead of creating districts built around contiguous communities and that racial gerrymandering violated the 14 th Amendment  TODAY Race is not an illegitimate consideration in drawing congressional boundaries as long is it was not the “dominant controlling factor”

16 How Issues get on the Congressional Agenda  The test of time– Social Security, foreign aid, the national debt  Sudden issues– cyber bullying, 9/11 security, the fiscal cliff  cliff/index.html?hpt=hp_c1 cliff/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

17 How issues get on the agenda (continued)  Highly visible events– 9/11  Party leaders and committee chairs have the opportunity to move the issue onto the agenda (with finesse and biding their time)

18 The Dance of Legislation

19 Dance of Legislation p. 363  After a bill is introduced it’s assigned to a committee with jurisdiction over the policy area  In the House, the bill must go to the rules committee to determine the specific rules of debate– specifically the length of debate and the sorts of amendments that can be offered  If the House and Senate both pass the bill after votes on the floor, a conference committee must meet to discuss the bill  PRESIDENT can sign, veto or pocket veto (can only be used in the last 10 days of the session)  If the law is vetoed, then the House and Senate have to override with a 2/3 vote

20 Committees: The Workhorses of Congress  “Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work”  The Division of Labor Among Committees– members of Congress end up specializing on specific topics (based on their expertise and the needs of their constituents)  Standing committees– permanent committees. Typically 16-20 senators serve on these committees and about 42 representatives  Joint committee– members of the House and Senate. Weaker than standing committees because there are specific rules about their ability to report bills to the House or Senate.  Select committee– temporary committee for a specific purpose

21 Congressional Expertise and Seniority  Influence grows with seniority and expertise  Within each committee, the senior member of the majority party usually becomes the committee chair  Committee and subcommittee members have to find ways to overcome inherent ideological and partisan divisions so that they can build compromise solutions that will appeal to the broader membership of the House and Senate

22 Oversight: Following Through on Legislation  Oversight– the process of reviewing agencies’ operations to determine whether they are carrying out policies as Congress intended  Hearings may be a part of a routine review or the byproduct of information that reveals a problem  Ongoing contact with committee and subcommittee leaders and agency administrators as well as between committee and agency staffers

23 Majoritarian and Pluralist Views of Committees  Committees enhance pluralism because representatives and senators are elected by voters and they tend to seek membership on committees that most impact their constituents.  The committees also have a majoritarian aspect. Most committee members reflect the general ideological profiles of the two parties’ congressional contingents.

24 Leaders and Followers in Congress  Democratic and Republican leaders in each house work to maximize the influence of their own party while trying to keep their chamber functioning smoothly and efficiently.  The Leadership Task– Both parties elect party leaders in both the House and the Senate who are in charge of overseeing institutional procedures, managing legislation, fundraising and communicating with the press. PUSHING THROUGH LEGISLATION AND BUILDING COMPROMISE ARE LARGE TASKS OF PARTY LEADERS.  Speaker of the House  President pro tempore & the Vice President  Real power in the Senate is in the hands of the majority leader

25 Rules of Procedure & Norms of Behavior  House– Rules Committee governs floor debate  Senate– very few rules governing floor debate  Filibuster– a delaying tactic, used in the Senate, that involves speechmaking to prevent action on a piece of legislation  Congress must eliminate personal disagreements to prevent the dissolution into bickering and factions  “My good friend,” “the senior Senator from _______,” etc.

26 The Legislative Environment  Political parties– can help or hinder efforts to get on the right committees, get their bills and amendments considered and climb the leadership ladder  The President– The public’s expectation of what the President can accomplish has skyrocketed during the 20 th Century. The President has limited power over the lawmaking process.  Constituents– voters have a huge role in the lawmaking process. Representatives need to be responsive to what their constituents want  Interest groups--

27 The Dilemma of Representation  Trustees or Delegates?  Trustees are obligated to consider the views of their constituents but are not obligated to vote accordingly  Delegates must follow their constituent’s views while voting

28 Pluralism or Majoritarianism?  If legislators act like delegates, the system is more pluralistic and policies reflect bargaining that goes on among lawmakers who speak for different constituencies  If legislators tend to act as trustees, policymaking is less tied to pluralism  True majoritarian legislatures require a paramount role for political parties

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