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If progress is the advancement of society, what is congress?

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Presentation on theme: "If progress is the advancement of society, what is congress?"— Presentation transcript:

1 If progress is the advancement of society, what is congress?

2 US CAPITOL BUILDING Legislative Branch – “makes laws”

3 1. Strongest branch 2. Separation of lawmaking power from executive 3. Bicameralism balances large/small states  House – more connected to people (2 yr term)  Senate – allows for independent thinking (6 yr term)

4 House  435 members  2 year term  7 year citizen  Initiate impeachment  Revenue bills  Strict debate rules Senate  100 members  6 year term  9 year citizen  Tries impeachment  Approve presidential appointments  Approve treaties’  Loose debate rules

5  Establish Federal courts: i.e. inferior courts  Congressional oversight: exercise some control over executive agencies.  Current issue—Obamacare and Mrs. Sebilius coming before Congress to answer questions.

6 Article I, Section 8  To lay and collect taxes, duties, imports  To borrow money  To regulate commerce (states and foreign)  To establish rules for naturalization  To coin money  To create courts (except Supreme Court)  To declare war  To raise and support an army and navy

7 Elastic clause has extended Congress powers  Oversight of budget – can restrict the fed. budget prepared by executive branch  Appropriations – set amount of money made available for various activity in a fiscal year  Investigation – Congress can launch investigations (Watergate, Clinton-Lewinski hearings, Steroids in baseball)



10  Majority party controls the most significant leadership positions  House - Speaker of the House  Allows people to speak on floor  Assigns bills to committees  Influences which bills are brought to a vote  Appoints members of special and select committees  Senate – Majority Leader  Schedules Senate business  Prioritizes bills

11 110 th Congress (2007-2008)  85% male  85% White  40% Lawyers 109 th Congress (2005-2006)  29 accused of spousal abuse  7 have been arrested for fraud  19 arrested for writing bad checks  117 have bankrupted at least 2 businesses  8 have been arrested for shoplifting  In 1998 alone, 84 were stopped for drunk driving

12  House members directly elected  Senators directly elected after 17 th Amend  House Incumbent advantage – Why?  Name recognition  Proven track record  Franking privileges – free mailing

13  g&feature=endscreen&NR=1 g&feature=endscreen&NR=1  IxOg&feature=endscreen&NR=1 IxOg&feature=endscreen&NR=1

14  Malapportionment – unequal population in districts  Wesberry v. Sanders (1963) – found unequal district pop. unconstitutional – 14 th amend  Gerrymandering – district boundaries are redrawn in strange ways to make it easy for candidate of one party to win  Easley v. Cromartie (2001) – redistricting for political ideology was constitutional, led to increase in minority reps

15 Create legislation, make laws Founders believed in a SLOW process Founders believed efficiency was a trait of an oppressive government 3tI6I&feature=relmfu 3tI6I&feature=relmfu

16  Introduced in Senate or House (except tax)  Single or multiple reps can introduce bill

17 1. Bill is assigned to a particular committee in its category (Ex. Tax bill – Ways and Means Committee, Farm bill – Agriculture Committee) 2. Bill is then placed in sub-committee 3. Bills are debated and “marked up” 4. Most bills die in committee, committee can vote to “report out” a bill

18  Before bill can go to floor in House, it must first set time limits and amendment regulations.  Closed rule – sets time limits, restricts amendments  Open rule – permits amendments  Restrictive rule – permits some amendments

19 Senate Debate  Less formal, no speaking limit  Filibuster – practice of stalling a bill w/ debate  Cloture – 3/5 of the Senate vote to stop debate House Debate  More formal, no filibuster, strict rules

20  Majority passes  If the bill passes, it must go through the same process in the opposite chamber with a sponsor  If the bill passes one house and fails the other, it must start over  If the Senate and House cannot come to agreement over two versions, it goes to Conference Committee to fix it and resubmit the bill

21  Sign – bill becomes law  Veto – bill returns to origin  Override – 2/3 vote in both houses can override veto  Pocket Veto – President has 10 days to act on a piece of legislation. If he receives the bill within 10 days of the end of the Congressional session, and doesn’t sign, it dies


23  Most real work happens here  Bills are passed, changed, ignored, or killed  Xo Xo

24  Standing committee – handle bills in different policy areas  (ex. Appropriations, Agriculture, Armed Services, Science, etc.) – most important and have been “standing” (existing) for a long time  Select committee – formed for specific purposes and usually temporary – run investigations (ex. Aging, Intelligence)

25  Joint committee – consist of both House and Senate members  similar in purpose to Select committee  Meant to draw attention to issues  Conference committee – consist of both House reps and Senators  formed to hammer out differences between House and Senate versions of similar bills  Congressional Committees and Subcommittees Congressional Committees and Subcommittees

26  Controlled by majority party, committee membership divided proportionally  Committee Chairman  Senior member of committee  Controls membership and debate

27  11,000 bills introduced yearly, most die  Committees can…  Report out favorably/unfavorably  Pigeonholed/table (do not discuss)  Amend / “mark up” (change or rewrite)

28  Groupings of members pushing for similar interests  Ex. – Sunbelt, Northeast-Midwest, Congressional Black, Women’s, Democratic Study Group, Boll Weevils, Steel

29  “Pork” – aka “pork-barrel legislation” – bills to benefit constituents in hope of gaining their votes  Logrolling – Congress members exchange votes, bills might pass for frivolous reasons  Christmas-tree bill –bill with many riders (pork)  in Senate, no limit exists on amendments, so Senators try to attach riders that will benefit their home state

30  No current limit on how many terms members of Congress can serve 1. Some argue this has weakened popular control of Congress, reps might be unresponsive to their constituents 2. Some argue most experienced reps have the expertise to bring home more benefits (pork, riders, etc.)

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