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The Legislative Branch of Government

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1 The Legislative Branch of Government
The US Congress The Legislative Branch of Government

2 History of Congress Congress created bicameral legislature (2 houses) with Great Compromise Until the 20th century Congress was the dominant institution of the federal government. House of Representatives viewed as most responsive to popular will Prior to 1913 the Senate was elected by state legislatures 17th amendment resulted in direct election of senators by the people

3 Enumerated Powers Specific Powers of Congress spelled out in Article 1, Section 8 Right to impose and collect taxes Right to borrow and coin money Right to regulate foreign and interstate trade Right to declare war Right to create post offices and federal courts below the Supreme Court Right to raise and maintain army and navy

4 Additional Powers Admit new states to the Union (Article IV, Section 3) Propose amendments to the Constitution (Article V) Collect Federal Income Taxes (16th amendment) Enforce civil rights (13th, 14th, 15th amendments) Extend vote (19th and 26th amendments)

5 Implied Powers Congress is not limited to specifically mentioned powers. It has implied powers derived from the necessary and proper clause (elastic clause) McCulloch v. Maryland gave Congress implied powers by recognizing its authority to create the second Bank of the US

6 Exclusive Powers Revenue Bills must originate in House of Representatives (Article 1 Section 7) House has sole power of impeachment – charging an official Senate is responsible for trying impeachment cases Senate gives advice and consent to presidential appointments 2/3rds of senate must ratify treaties Over half of Senate must approve presidential appointments

7 Who serves in Congress? 100 Senators – 2 from each state
435 representatives in House – based on population House based on 10-year census data – reapportionment may occur with population shifts. States may lose or gain Representatives based on decade demographic changes. Redistricting - State legislatures or appointed citizen’s groups can change the congressional district boundaries within a state. Gerrymandering is practice of state and local political parties trying to redraw congressional district lines to benefit their party or candidate

8 15th District – Eric Swalwell
Union City was recently redistricted from the 13th to the 15th district The Representative from our district is Eric Swalwell, a Democratic serving since 2012 The freshman Congressmen defeated Pete Stark, the longest serving US Congressmen

9 Advantages of Incumbency
Prior to 1950’s many legislators only served one term. In recent decades membership has become career, with incumbents being elected over and over again. Incumbents have great electoral advantage: Districts are often controlled by one party, making it difficult for challengers from opposing party to be elected. Incumbents have great name recognition, and more fund raising capability.

10 Advantages continued:
Incumbents have franking privileges (allowed to mail to district for free) Incumbents get credit for specific projects that benefit district (pork barrel projects) State and local voters have enacted term limits, but not at federal level.

11 Types of Representation
Representational View: legislators vote to please their constituents to get reelected. Organizational View: When constituency issues not at stake, legislators may respond to party leaders or respected colleagues Attitudinal View: ideology of legislator determines vote.

12 Committee Organization in Congress
Standing committees –permanent bodies with specified legislative responsibilities. (e.g. Armed Services or Judiciary committees) Select committees – groups appointed for limited purpose (e.g. intelligence committees) Joint committees – representatives and senators serve on joint committees (e.g. conference committee designed to resolve differences between different versions of similar legislation)

13 Most Powerful Committees in House
House Ways and Means Committee drafts tax legislation House Rules committee reviews all bills except budget, before bills come before full House

14 Party Organization in the House
Speaker of the House is the leader of the majority party and presides over the House. Power includes deciding who is recognized on the floor, interprets rules on motions, and assigns bills to committee, influences which bills are brought up Majority party elects floor leader or house leader. Minority party elects a minority leader.

15 Party Organization in the Senate
President Pro tempore formally leads Senate. Ceremonial role. Member of the Senate in the majority party with the most seniority. Senate Majority leader – Majority Party elects majority leader. Schedules Senate business in consultation with minority leaders. Party Whips keep leaders informed and put pressure on Party members to vote with Party line. Committee assignments are handled by groups of senators from each party.

16 Each party has whip that is in charge of rounding up votes Congressional rules have changed since 1990’s – No committee chairman serves for more than six years. Seniority less important for selecting committee chairs. Party unity is still apparent but less cohesion since the 1990’s

17 Caucuses Intraparty caucus – members share same ideology (e.g. Tea Party Caucus) Personal interest – members share an interest in an issue (e.g. Human rights) Constituency concerns – members share similar constituencies (e.g. Congressional Black Caucus)

18 Staff organization in Congress
Some congressional staff work in home district taking care of constituency Other staffers work devising proposal, drafting language for laws, meeting with lobbyists, organizing hearings

19 Staff for Congress as a Whole
Congressional Research Service (CRS) – responds to Congressional request for information General Accountability Office (GAO) – audits how money is spent by executive branch Congressional Budget Office (CBO) – advises Congress on economic effects of various spending bills and provides costs for different pieces of legislation.

20 Step: 1 Bill Introduction
8,000-10,000 bills are introduced, but only 10% become law. A bill is a proposed law. Many people and groups can draft bills: e.g. Executive branch, party leadership, caucus, individual member, and interest group. Bill can be either in House or Senate or simultaneously (except tax and spending bills which have to be brought to House first)

21 Step 2 : A Bill in Committee
Various committees discuss, amend, and approve bills. Bills can be tabled, not sent on. Once a bill is out of committee in the House it goes to the Rules Committee where it is decided when it will be introduced, how much time will be allowed for debate. Senate does not have a Rules committee, so bill goes directly to floor.

22 Step 3: Bill on the Senate Floor
Senate a more deliberative chamber, senators are not limited to amount of time that they can speak. Filibuster is a prolonged speech designed to delay legislative action 1917 rule 22 allowed debate to be cut off if two thirds of senate agreed to cloture motion. Senators can add unrelated amendments to a bill called riders. A bill with many riders is called a Christmas tree.

23 Step 3: Bill on House Floor
In House, bill usually goes before Committee of the Whole, which only requires 100 representatives to discuss and debate a bill. However, for a bill to pass 218 members of the House (a quorum) must be present to pass a bill. On the floor Congress can have a voice vote, standing vote, or electronic vote.

24 Step 4: Bill in Conference Committee
House and Senate members meet to resolve differences in versions of bill. A compromise bill is sent to House and Senate for approval with no amendments.

25 Step 5: Bill goes to the President
A bill becomes law when a president signs it President can veto. Congress can override veto with 2/3rds of both Houses. If President takes no action within 10 days, bill becomes law A pocket veto occurs when Congress adjourns within that ten-day period without the president signing the bill.

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