2 THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH House of RepresentativesandSenate
3 LEGISLATIVE BRANCH Also called Congress. Meet in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
4 CongressIn addition to its lawmaking powers, Congress plays a critical role in American democracy as a representative institution. The members of Congress—100 senators and 435 representatives—represent the voices of the people across America. Yet some observers worry that Congress does not represent all voices equally.
5 House & Senate: Differences in Representation Bicameral System: Two ChambersEach state has two senatorsRepresentation in the House determined by state population (435 total)Predicated on different models of representationSenate: states, with long termsHouse: districts, with short termsThis is a good time to remind students about why this system was established: the small states wanted equal representation and the large states wanted representation proportional to population. The idea of two equal chambers had never been tried before.
6 LEGISLATIVE BRANCH Bicameral - 2 Houses House of Representatives SenateResponsibility is to make (create) laws.Dual Role - constituents needs & wants and considering what is good for nation as a whole.
7 Differences between the House and the Senate TABLE 9.1 Differences between the House and the Senate
8 House & Senate: Differences in Representation Senate: 100 SenatorsOriginally selected by state legislaturesSix year termsHouse of Representatives: 435 MembersElected by districtsTwo year terms5 non-voting delegates: American Samoa, District of Columbia, Guam, U.W. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
9 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 435 SeatsNumber of seats determined by state population.19 Committees - 84 sub-committeesReferred to as the “lower” house.Leader is called Speaker of the House.
10 HOUSE OF REPRESENATIVES Has sole power to Impeach President.All bills to raise money must come from the House of Representatives.All bills (laws) must pass in the House before going to the President.
11 SENATE 100 seats -2 seats per state - separate vote 16 Committees and 69 sub- committeesReferred to as the “upper” houseVice President is President of Senate but NO vote unless a tie.Leader = President pro temporeNicknamed “Millionaires Club”
12 House & Senate: Differences in Representation How representatives “represent”:Sociological Representation: Representative shares characteristics, background and interests with constituentsAgency Representation: Representative has incentives to act in the constituents’ interests
13 House & Senate: Differences in Representation Representatives as Agents: Legislators learn about the interests of constituentsParties almost never ask a member of Congress to vote against constituent interestsThis slide ties into interest groups, as discussed in the previous chapter. Interest groups are expected to reach out to members of Congress, and those members are expected to actively reach out to constituents. However, this is not easy when a Representative can have over 600,000 constituents and a Senator can have millions.
14 SENATE Power to try impeachment - 2/3rd vote Senate approval needed on bills to raise money.All laws must pass in the Senate before going to the President.
15 The Electoral Connection Who gets elected?Incumbency advantageDistricting and gerrymandering issues
16 The Electoral Connection Incumbency AdvantageMembers of Congress have an array of tools to keep them in officeConstituency servicesName recognition and title (reputation)
17 The Electoral Connection RedistrictingChange of boundary lines b/c of pop changeThe critical election in these districts is the primaryGerrymandering: Redrawing district boundary lines to provide political advantage or disadvantageAgain, a point to strike home is that there are a significant number of congressional seats where the incumbent is not even challenged by the other party because the district has been drawn in such a manner that it is very unlikely that the out party would win. In districts like these where the seat is contested, the opponent is hoping for some unforeseen scandal or accident to happen, is hoping to run well and draw attention for another race down the line, or has unrealistic expectations.
18 The Organization of Congress Majority party controls leadership and shapes agendaSpeaker of the House is the leader of majority partyBoth parties also elect a majority leader, a minority leader, and a whipParties determine which of their members sit on various committeesActually, both parties have numerous deputy whips who often specialize in various policy areas, but each party has one person with the title of whip.
19 Party Leadership in the Senate In 2006, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) became the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives. Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who handed her the gavel that year, took over as Speaker in 2011 after Republicans won a majority in the House in the 2010 elections.
20 The Organization of Congress Committee SystemStanding committeesSelect committeesJoint committeesConference committees
21 The Organization of Congress Standing committees are permanent and are where the majority of legislation is writtenA point to make is that members try to get on committees that have jurisdiction over key elements of their districts. Members representing Connecticut and New York may want to get on Financial Services, for example, while a member from Kansas may want to obtain a seat on Agriculture.
23 The Organization of Congress Select CommitteesFormed temporarily to focus on a specific issueCannot present bills to the chamberBring attention to a specific subjectThe issues for which Select committees are formed are often those that span many committees or that are so rare or novel that the standing committees cannot easily address them.
24 The Organization of Congress Joint CommitteesFormed from members of both ChambersGather informationCover issues internal to Congress
25 The Organization of Congress Conference CommitteesTemporary joint committeesFor a bill to become a law, the same wording of the bill must be passed by both chambersConference committees are formed to write the final wording when both chambers pass similar bills that need to be reconciled
26 The Organization of Congress The number of seats the minority party has on a committee is roughly proportionate to the seats it has in the House, but at an unfavorable rate.Seniority determines committee assignmentsChairs can be removed by the party caucusChairs are term-limitedThe Republican changes in 1995 were truly revolutionary. Quite a number of senior members were skipped over for chair assignments because their political leanings were not close enough to those of the new leadership.
27 The Organization of Congress Congressional StaffersMembers of Congress need staff who are experts in specific fields and also staff to help constituentsOver 11,500 staff in DC and district officesAnother 2,000 staff for committeesEach Representative is allocated a staffing budget, which they can spend as they wish. Senators are allocated budgets according to the population of their state. Staffing is typically allocated on a lifecycle pattern, in which newer members typically focus more heavily on constituent services, with a large percentage of their staff back working in their districts. As they rise in seniority and feel safer in their seats, they typically pull more staff into DC to focus on policy work.
28 How Congress DecidesThere are a number of influences on members of Congress.ConstituentsLegislators take constituents seriously if they believe it will affect their support at the next election.
29 How Congress DecidesMembers of Congress often spend a great deal of time in their electoral districts meeting with constituents. Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland is shown here greeting constituents at an event in Baltimore.
30 How Congress Decides Interest Groups Can supply legislators with information about pending billsCan make donationsDo they represent the interests of constituents?
31 How Congress Decides Party leaders have some tools at their disposal: Leadership PACsCommittee assignmentsAccess to the floorThe whip systemLogrollingPresidencyThere are two other points you might want to discuss. The first is that members want to rise in their chamber, and they do so not only through seniority but also by supporting powerful members of their party who can do them favors in return. This means that lead junior members are often influenced by more senior members. On the other hand, there are times when members really do believe in certain policy goals and may not be willing to sacrifice them. There are times when party leaders simply have to accept this.
32 Beyond Legislation Oversight Congress is expected to oversee the activities of the Executive Branch in order to ensure funding is spent properly and laws are enforced.It is also the case, sadly, that just as Congress often abuses its oversight powers for partisan purposes, many witnesses simply refuse to cooperate, either by pleading they have forgotten or simply evading the questions.
33 Beyond Legislation Advice and Consent Senate must confirm top-level executive appointments, ambassadors, and federal judgesMust also approve all treatiesYou may also want to note that if the Senate is not in session, the president can appoint people into positions as “recess appointments” who can hold office until the end of the next session. This is usually done to avoid the need for Senate approval and is not usually taken kindly.
34 Beyond Legislation Impeachment If high officials are thought to have committed “Treason, Bribery or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” they can be impeached.The House acts as a grand jury.The Senate conducts the actual trial.If the Senate conducts a trial, the Chief Justice conducts it.
35 LEGISLATIVE BRACH Powers of Congress Oversee elections Set rules within the legislative branchTo tax, to borrow money, to coin moneySet rules of naturalizationregulate commerceEstablish Post Offices
36 LEGISLATIVE BRANCH Powers continued…. To declare war To raise and support armiesTo make all laws that are necessary and proper
37 LEGISLATIVE BRANCH Powers that Congress DOES NOT have.. Can not suspend Habeas CorpusCan not tax inter-state commerceCan not take money from treasury unless a law is passed to do soCan not give a title of nobility
38 Public Opinion PollDo you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?Strongly approveApproveDisapproveStrongly disapprove38
39 Public Opinion PollDo you approve or disapprove of the way your member of Congress is handling his or her job?Strongly approveApproveDisapproveStrongly disapprove39
40 Public Opinion PollDo you believe we should have term limits for Members of Congress?YesNo40
41 Public Opinion PollDo you think it is important that the demographics of Congress represent the social, racial and economic demographics of the country?YesNo41
42 Public Opinion PollWhen members of Congress cast a vote, which of the following factors should typically most influence their decision?The interests of the country as a wholeThe interests of their district or state42
43 Public Opinion PollWhich of the following do you believe should be the most influential factor in the voting decisions of members of congress?The preferences of their constituentsThe preferences of the PresidentThe preferences of the Members’ Party LeadershipThe members’ own ideology43