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

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

2 Congress US CAPITOL BUILDING Legislative Branch – “makes laws”

3 Founders’ Intentions 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 Important Differences 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 Constitutional Powers 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

6 Evolution of Powers 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)



9 Leadership 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

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


12 Representation 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

13 How A Bill Becomes a Law Create legislation, make laws Founders believed in a SLOW process Founders believed efficiency was a trait of an oppressive government

14 Step 1 – Introduce Bill Introduced in Senate or House (except tax bills which always start in the House) Single or multiple reps can introduce bills Ideas come from constituents, representatives, senators, the President, special interest groups

15 Step 2 - Committee 1.Bill is assigned to a particular committee by topic (Ex. Tax bill – Ways and Means Committee, Farm bill – Agriculture Committee) 2.Bill is then placed in sub-committee (smaller group of reps/senators to study the bill more closely) 3.Bills are debated and “marked up” 4.Most bills die in committee, committee can vote to “report out” a bill, if not it just dies out

16 Step 3–Rules Committee 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

17 Step 4 – Floor Debate Senate Debate Less formal, no speaking limit Filibuster – practice of stalling a bill w/ debate – Senator can talk his/her head off Cloture – 3/5 of the Senate votes to stop debate a filibuster House Debate More formal, no filibuster, strict rules

18 Step 5 - Voting Majority passes a bill If the bill passes, it must go through the same process in the opposite chamber If the bill passes one house and fails the other, it must start over (or dies in that chamber) If the Senate and House cannot come to agreement over two versions of same bill, it goes to Conference Committee to iron out all differences so the bill can go on to executive for signature

19 Presidential Action President can: 1. Sign bill – bill becomes law! 2. Veto bill – bill returns to Congress 3. 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 Note: Congress can vote to Override a veto with 2/3 vote in both houses. This is part of Checks and Balances of the 3 branches system

20 Committees and Subcommittees Most real work happens here Bills are passed, changed, ignored, or killed ees/d_three_sections_with_teasers/commi ttees_home.htm ees/d_three_sections_with_teasers/commi ttees_home.htm

21 Types of Committees 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)

22 Types of Committees 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 SubcommitteesCongressional Committees and Subcommittees

23 Committee Membership Controlled by majority party, committee membership divided proportionally Committee Chairman –Senior member of committee –Controls membership and debate

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

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

26 Criticisms of Congress “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

27 Term-limits Debate 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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