Presentation on theme: "The organization and power of Congress"— Presentation transcript:
1 The organization and power of Congress Chapter 8Pages
2 Requirement for election to congress: All members of the House who seek reelection must return to their home districts to face the voters in November of each even-numbered yearA senator serves a six-year termOnly 1/3 of the Senate membership stands for election (or reelection) at any one time2 reasons senators stay in office:Give stabilityLong-term direction to the law-making process
3 Qualifications for election to congress: RequirementHouse of RepresentativesSenateAgeTwenty-five years or olderThirty years or older.CitizenshipMust have been a United States Citizen for at least seven yearsMust have been a United States citizen for at least nine years.ResidenceMust be a resident of the state in which he or she is elected. By custom, a representative is, also expected to live in the district represented.Must be a resident of the state he or she represents.
4 Nomination and Election Congress: selected by their political partiesMembership in a party is not requiredHowever, very few candidates can afford to run without their party’s financial supportState to state – Republicans and Democrats nominate their candidates in a variety of ways – here are 3:Party nominating committees meet in each congressional district to pick the candidatesParty officials select the candidates at state conventionsAllow voters to choose their own candidates in primary electionsSenators: for 125 years were elected by the legislatures of their home statesThis ended when the 17th Amendment was ratified in 1913TODAY = BOTH senators and representatives are elected by the voters in their home states and districtsGovernor has the power to appoint a replacement when an incumbent senator resigns or diesThe new senator serves until the next senator serves until the next regular electionSpecial elections are usually called to fill vacancies in the House.
5 Why do we have two houses of Congress? Unicameral, or one-house, legislatures under the Continental Congresses and the Articles of Confederation had not worked wellSeveral of the framers believed that a two-house lawmaking body was essential to the system of check and balance they were building into the government.The dispute over representation between the large and small states was solved by the Connecticut CompromiseThe small states were protected in the senate, where every state was given two seatsThat decision allowed the Framers to recognize the greater economic and political weight of the large state by allocating House seats on the basis of population.
6 A bicameral Congress:1. Serves as a brake: a bill must be approved by both houses meeting separately2. Prevents sectional legislation: a bill passed by the House that favors a single, heavily populated region of the country can be killed in the Senate.This prevents the passage of laws that might work against the best interests of other sections of the country3. Provides differing viewpoints: the members of the house must run for reelection every 2 years – are forced to respond to the immediate wishes of the peopleSenators who have the security of six-year terms, can examine legislation from a longer range view4. Provides time for review: new bills take a long time to go through both housesThis slow progress gives everyone – the public, the media, pressure groups, and Congress itself – time to study and criticize a bill before it become a law
7 What is the term of Congress? Term of congress = the period of during which a Congress remains in session between electionsEach congress is numbered in sequence and has a life span of two years.The first Congress convened in 1789, the 111th in January
8 How are congressional seats apportioned (allocated)? Congress – contains 535 members100 senators and 435 representativesCongress passed the Reapportionment Act of 1929Law fixed the membership of the House at its present sizeEach representative speakers to an average of 700,000 citizens# of representatives (out of 435) that each state sends to the House is SET by the ratio of the state’s population to the national populationExample: California sends 53 compared to South Dakota or Montana which send 1
9 ReapportionmentGreatest migration today is from cold weather states to the jobs and warm weather of the “sunbelt”National census (taken every ten years in years ending in 0) measures this mobile populationCensus figures matter because the size of their delegations to the House can be affectedBureau of Census prepares the reapportionment plan for the President – forwards it to Congress for actionUnless Congress changes it, the plan becomes LAW after 60 DAYS
10 “One man, one vote”Case of Wesberry v. Sanders (1964) – Court ruled that “as nearly as is practicable, one man’s vote in congressional election is to be worth as much as another’s”Court demanded:Congressional districts be of a reasonably compact shapeThat each district in a state contain roughly the same number of people
11 How does Congress organize itself? Conduct the “people’s business”- Speaker of the house: House of Representatives is led by a presiding office known as the SpeakerThe leader of the majority party holds this powerful postSpeaker conducts House business according to rules called parliamentary procedure:1. Power to recognize members: House members can not take the floor to speak unless they are recognized by the SpeakerThe Speaker has the power to control a debate on a particular bill, the Speaker can influence its passage or defeat2. Power to interpret House rules:Refer bills to favorable committeesAppoint special and conference committee membersDelay or speed up the passage of legislation
12 Speaker of the House continued… Majority party elects the Speaker at a special party conference or caucusThis caucus is held at the beginning of a new termOnce elected, Speaker serves two years and MUST stand for reelection when the next Congress convenesSpeaker can join in debates (after appointing a temporary presiding officer to fill the chair)Speaker may also vote on any issue but seldom does so except to break a tieIf both the President and Vice President die at the same time, the Speaker is next in line for the PresidencyJohn Boehner
13 President of the Senate Vice President of the United States serves as the President of the SenateThe Constitution specifies this as a specific task for the Vice PresidentSeldom preside over the Senate unless a close vote on an important bill is expectedDoes not participate in debates but casts the deciding vote in case of tiesSenate elects one of its members to the post of President pro temporeThis senator presides over the Senate when the vice Presidency is vacant or when the Vice President is absent
14 Party Leaders Each house has a majority and minority party leader Floor leaders head steering committees that supervise the legislative business in each houseWork with the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate:1. to manage debate on all business before the House and the Senate2. coordinate the work of congressional committees3. choose the speakers who are going to debate a particular bill4. work with the Rules Committee to move bills onto the floor5. organize party members so that the party is unified on important votes
15 Party Leaders continued… Party Whips: assist the floor leaders in each houseWhips selected by the party leader, line up votes for or against a given billMust be accurate judges of how each party member is going to voteMust be capable of delivering the votes of party members when a vote is takenMethods = polite debate to political arm-twistingEach house is served by a staff of nonelected officials:Sergeant-at-arms – maintains order and organizes securityLegislative counsel – helps write and review new bills
16 How is the Committee system organized? Committee hearings take the form of investigations –Information gathered during the sessions:Aid in the writing of new lawsSpotlight a social problem, such as healthcare for the poorProvide insight into the activities of the executive and judicial branches3 types of committees: (Table page 182)Standing Committees: legislative work of Congress40 standing committeesHouse has 24 and Senate has 16Divides itself in subcommittees that handle specialized committee business
17 Committees continued… Special committees: “select” committees – disband after their particular tasks are finishedLast less than a yearAppointed by the speaker of the House or by the President of the SenateConference committees: House and Senate versions of the same bill often differLeadership appoints a temporary conference committeeMeet and settle their differences through compromises and write a conference reportBOTH houses must accept or reject the report without amendmentThis committee plays a key role in deciding a bill’s final form
18 Committee Membership: If there were 60 Republicans and 40 Democrats in the Senate, the Republicans would be entitled to three-fifths of the seats on each committeeIf Democrats were in control of the House, they would reserve a majority of the lower chamber’s committee seats for themselves.Committee assignments reflect:1. legislator’s personal interests2. the seniority (length of service) the legislator holds in Congress3. leadership’s opinion of the legislator’s abilities