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Congress Overriding Questions Why did the founders create Congress and not Parliament? How has the role of a Congress-person changed over time? How does.

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Presentation on theme: "Congress Overriding Questions Why did the founders create Congress and not Parliament? How has the role of a Congress-person changed over time? How does."— Presentation transcript:


2 Congress

3 Overriding Questions Why did the founders create Congress and not Parliament? How has the role of a Congress-person changed over time? How does the legislative process impact public policy?

4 Duties of the Job 1. Legislators who make the laws 2. Committee Members Screen bills and make recommendations Oversight function of governmental agencies 3. Representatives of their Constituents- Those who elect them 4. Servants of their Constituents 5. Politicians Much time spent fundraising for future elections

5 Types of Bills and Resolutions Bills Concurrent Resolutions Jointly between the House and Senate Not sent to the President Resolutions Rule of procedure or amendment to rule Not sent to the President Rider Addition to a bill

6 Congressional Leaders Majority Leaderthe legislative leader of the party holding the majority of seats in the House or Senate Minority Leaderthe legislative leader and spokesperson of the party holding the minority of seats in the House or Senate Whipa senator or representative who works with the party leaders to communicate views, solicit support before votes are taken, and keep track of how voting is likely to go

7 Presiding Officers Speaker of the House- doesnt vote Elected from the majority party President of the Senate-Vice President President Pro Tempore Elected by the senate from majority party Honorary position based on seniority Floor Leaders- legislative strategists Whips- Assist floor leaders – aware of how others will vote Party Caucus- party meeting Committee Chairman Seniority Rule-no longer the rule

8 Incumbents… Why they win… Name recognition Free mail franking (publicity) Media exposure service to constitutients (PORK) Sophomore surge Gerrymandering Why they lose… Redistricting Voter Disgust Yes….more than likely they WIN!

9 Representatives of the People The four voting options: Centripetal-centralized party, quick efficient action Centrifugal-Reps vote independent of party, SLOW

10 Compensation Today, senators and representatives are paid a salary of… $168, 000 a year, Certain members, such as the Speaker of the House and the Senates president pro tem, are paid more. Senate Leadership Majority Leader - $183,500 Minority Leader - $183,500 House Leadership Speaker of the House - $212,100 Majority Leader - $183,500 Minority Leader - $183,500 The franking privilege allows members of Congress to mail letters and other materials postage-free by substituting their facsimile signature (frank) for the postage.

11 How a bill becomes a LAW… Sources-Committees, Congress-people, Executive branch, PACS (interest groups) Intro-given a number (only 10% make it) Member reads and Speaker refers to com. Sponsor in Senate reads and VP (Pro-tem) refers Senate standing committees members and House standing committee members While in COMMITTEE---Research and investigate at hearings (experts, witnesses, PAC members)

12 Then what….? Take action- end there Change and report back (mark up) Pigeonhole (force to discharge with 218 votes)

13 Wait theres more… Subcommittees-grew in the 1970s (House 90, Senate 70) Rules Committee-rules for debate House Floor (re-read with revisions) Change Vote Delay On to Senate

14 In the Senate- Intro Committee Debate Fillibuster Cloture (60) senators Conference Committee Da Prez-sign, veto, pocket veto

15 Congressional Ethics? 1978 Ethics reform All income must be reported Surplus funds cannot be used for personal use

16 THE TRENDS! More polarized and ideological than voters More individualistic More hospitable to Freshman, heavily staffed, subcommittee oriented Diversity

17 Interest Groups


19 Interest groups are interrelated and also separate organizations






25 Hyper pluralism… Latent causes of factions are thus sown in the nature of men. -James Madison, Federalist #10 Interest groups have exploded Sense of membership (De Tocqueville)

26 Birth of Interest Groups 1770s: American Independence 1830s – 1840s: Religious & Anti-Slavery Movements 1860s – Trade Unions; Fraternal Organizations 1880s – 1890s: Business Associations 1900s – 1920s: Business & Professional Associations; Charitable Organizations 1960s: Environmental, Consumer & Political Reform Organizations

27 Why Join? Material Reasons: Incentives, discounts Purposive Reasons: Policy change, ideological beliefs, Public interest (MADD)

28 Valuable Functions of Interest Groups Interest groups raise awareness of public affairs, or issues that concern the people at large. Interest groups represent people who share attitudes rather than those who share geography. Interest groups provide specialized information to government agencies and legislators. Interest groups are vehicles for political participation. Interest groups keep tabs on various public agencies and officials. Interest groups compete.

29 Political Parties and Interest Groups Political parties and interest groups differ in three striking respects: (1) in the making of nominations, (2) in their primary focus, and (3) in the scope of their interests.

30 The Various Types of Groups: Business (NAM, C of C) Labor (AFL-CIO, UMW) Agriculture (Amer. Farm Bur. Fed.) Consumer (Consumers Union) Elderly (AARP) Environmental (SC, EDF) show internet resources pha.html pha.html

31 More on Interest Groups and Parties Interest Groups v. Parties Interest groups are specialists; the Parties are generalists Interest groups are tightly organized; the Parties are loosely organized. Interest groups, unlike Parties, do not wish to run the government. Interest groups may be extreme; the Parties must remain moderate.

32 More Groups... Professional (AMA, ABA, NEA) Womens (NOW) Church (National Council of Churches) Ethnic (NAACP, Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund, Organization of Chinese Americans)

33 Influencing Parties and Elections Political Action Committees (PACs) raise and distribute money to candidates who will further their goals.

34 More on Lobbying… Lobbying carries beyond the legislature. It is brought into government agencies, the executive branch, and even the courts. Nearly all important organized interest groups maintain lobbyists in Washington, D.C.


36 Lobbyists at Work Lobbyists use several techniques: They send articles, reports, and other information to officeholders. They testify before legislative committees.

37 Other ways they work… They bring grass-roots pressures to bear through , letters, or phone calls from constituents. They rate candidates and publicize the ratings. They make campaign contributions.

38 They give you gifts!

39 They have celebrities endorse them!

40 They make it easy for you to donate money!

41 History of Interest Groups Industrial Revolution created unions Civil Rights creates NAACP Govt Policy-people for or against Social Movement Public Interest (single interest)-AARP Interest groups became embedded in American Politics in the early 1950s and 1960s

42 Cant outlaw them… 1st Amendment Regulate/Restrict…1946 to 1996! Lobbying Disclosure Act Overlapping Membership…so... The best way to control them is to join them!!! Efforts to Control Groups:

43 Regulating Interest Groups First Amendment Protection Political speech & Petition of Government Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act: 1946 Required registration and quarterly financial reports Supreme Court restricted its application to direct contact with Congressmen Grassroot activity was not restricted Lobbying Disclosure Act: 1995 Tightened registration and disclosure requirements Broader definition of Lobbyists

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