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  1. Congress • Only Americas have Congresses • US Congress has powers it can exercise independent of the Executive Branch • To enter Congress, one merely wins Primary and General elections; many citizens vote for “the person,” not party • Congress is more powerful because it does not select the Executive • Individual members are free to express their views and vote as they wish • Challenge: Combining the faithful representation of constituents with the making of effective public policy (Imagine a Nevada legislator who favors Yucca Mountain) • Intent of Framers: Congress would be dominant, balance large and small states, oppose concentration of power in central institution

  2. Parliamentary Systems: Differences From U.S. System • Must persuade party to put your name on ballot • Voters choose between parties, not between multiple candidates from same party • Parliament selects Prime Minister • Renomination dependent on loyalty • Members have little pay, power, or staff resources • U.S. representatives/senators are independent, and decentralized power allows members to represent their own constituents—not national interests

  3. The 104th Congress, 1995-1997 • Republicans take control of both houses, 1994 • Immediately instituted rule changes to give Speaker more power to control legislative agenda • Pushed budget with tax cuts, deep spending cuts, and a balanced budget • Clinton and Congressional Dems fight back, prevent passage • Only 65 bills passed in 1994. many more 1995

  4. Benefits of Members • Members of Congress are much more powerful than most members of Parliaments • High salary, travel allowance, staff allowance, franking • Congress tends to be decentralized because of tendency to placate constituency, also Congressman more concerned about #1 than the President’s program • Congress was designed by the founders in ways that make it unpopular with voters who want action, respond to strong leaders

  5. Congressional Evolution • Framers created a bicameral legislature that was supposed be dominant at national level. They didn’t want powers concentrated in a single government institution, and states valued sovereignty, so interests had to be protected • For 150 yrs, Congress was dominant—major policy struggles were WITHIN Congress (rules and leadership), rather than between Congress and the President

  6. Centralization To act quickly and decisively, must be strong leadership, restrictions on debate, little committee interference, no stalling tactics Decentralization The Congress would have weak leadership, protect the views of individual members, rules allowing for delay, extensive committee involvement Some states actually have decentralization with strong leaders—chalk that up to political party strength in those states Competing Values

  7. Phases of the House: #1The Powerful House, 1789-1809 • Leadership often provided by President or Cabinet Secretaries • House dominated Senate • Party caucus influential in shaping policy • Clay was a disciplinarian, strict rules • Caucus nominated President (made Presidents sensitive to Congress’s wishes

  8. Phase II: Divided House, 1820s-CW • Caucus replaced by party conventions • Speaker wielded little power • Major political struggles were within Congress-- slavery a huge issue, also internal improvements, tariffs, new states, business regulation • Jackson vetoed legislation left and right • Radical Republicans later give way to weak party leadership again

  9. Phase III: Powerful Speakers, 1889-1911 • Thomas B. Reed (R-ME) 1889-91, 1895-99: Got the right to appoint committee chairmen and members, punished disloyal party members/rewarded allies • Chaired rules committee, could control debate, determined who would speak, produced great party unity • Replaced by Joseph Cannon (R-IL), 1903-11: Had more Conservative views, triggered backlash

  10. Phase IV: Revolt • Backlash against Cannon came in 1912; removal from Rules Committee, stripped power to appoint committee members • 3 sources of power emerge: • #1: Party Caucus: Caucuses lack real authority, and waned • #2: Rules Committee: Decided which bills come up for a vote and in which order, limited debate and ability to offer amendments • #3:Chairmen of Standing Committees (could control bills’ entry to floor, got positions by seniority)

  11. Phase V: Empowerment of Individual Members (1960-1970) • House struck out against leadership in all forms • Committee chairs stripped of most power • Chairs couldn’t refuse to call meetings, most meetings had to be public • Each member could introduce bills • Staffs greatly expanded

  12. Phase VI: Return of Leadership • Individuals were getting too much power • Speaker got power to choose most of rules committee • Speaker can choose committee to assign bills to • Republicans in 1994 set maximum chairperson tenure at 6 years • # of committees reduced; harder to be a chairman • Speaker set agenda (Gingrich) • “Contract With America” voted on • Now Hastert (R-IL) is speaker: moderate to right wing

  13. The Senate • Big disputes in Senate  17th Amendment • Filibusters—prolonged speech, delays or prohibits vote on a bill • First restriction, rule 22: Cloture (1917) • Now you need 60 votes to really control Senate

  14. Who is in Congress? • Typical: Middle-aged white male Protestant lawyer • Gradually less male and less white • Senate more slow to change; no African Americans now, 11 women • Small # of blacks understates their influence; many long-term Congressmen, influential • Most important change: Incumbency…career job now, term limits unconstitutional • 1992/94: New members because of scandal, 1990 census screwed some over, Republican victory • Marginal districts less common, safe districts rule

  15. Why Safe Districts? • Incumbents have better name recognition • More voting for person, not party • Incumbents can get pet projects (Bud Shuster), keep bases open, protect local industry

  16. Congress by Party: Democratic Dominance • Democrats thoroughly dominate the House, and to a smaller extent, the Senate • State redistricting hurts Republicans, “seat gap” in many states • Democrats do well in minority dominated districts, Republicans in affluent suburbs • Incumbency avg. has grown to 6-8%, but this is still not enough to explain Dem dom. • Gary Jacobson: Democrats better reflect most constituencies (organized labor, feminism, civil rights, environmentalists)

  17. Why Democrats Fell in ’90s • Voters started disliking “professional politicians”, mess in Washington • Budget deficits, gridlock, scandals like “House Bank,” exemptions from laws • Conservative Coalition less important now; many Southern Democrats replaced by Southern Republicans, ones that remain are more ideologically pure liberalsgridlock

  18. Fair Representation: Problems • Malapportionment: Unequal size districts dilute some votes • Gerrymandering: Drawing districts unusually to favor one party • Both illegal

  19. Wesberry v. Sanders (1964) • A state apportionment law in Georgia created a very large 5th congressional district.  • Voters sued on constitutional grounds in that there was a debasement of their votes. • The Supreme Court invalidated the state law. "While it may not be possible to draw congressional districts with mathematical precision, that is no excuse for ignoring our Constitution's plain objective of making equal representation for equal numbers of people the fundamental goal for the House of Representatives."

  20. Baker v. Carr (1962) • Voters in Tennessee challenged a state apportionment law claiming that their votes were unequal in irrationally created counties.  • The Tennessee court ruled against them. • The Supreme Court affirmed a federal court right to hear the case and reversed the lower court on 14th Amendment equal protection grounds.  • Expanded the Court’s role in deciding “political questions” (recall Luther v. Borden (1848))

  21. Majority-Minority Districts • African Americans, despite making up large parts of some states’ populations, were nonexistent in Congress • Democrats tried to create “safe” districts for them. Best example: NC #1 and #12 • Shaw v. Reno (1993) --States must show “compelling government interest” to avoid “racial gerrymandering” status • 1993: 27 Hispanic/32 Black districts, survived • Hannah Pitkin: Distinguishes between descriptive representation (do representatives correspond demographically?) and substantive representation (do Reps correspond with views?)

  22. Shaw v. Reno (1993) • To comply with §5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965--which prohibits a covered jurisdiction from implementing changes in a "standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting" without federal authorization--North Carolina submitted to the Attorney General a congressional reapportionment plan with one majority black district. • The Attorney General objected to the plan on the ground that a second district could have been created. The State's revised plan contained a second majority black district in the north central region. The new district stretched approximately 160 miles along I-85 and, for much of its length, was no wider than I-85.

  23. More Shaw………… • Five North Carolina residents, filed this action against state and federal officials, claiming that the State had created an unconstitutional racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. • They alleged that the two districts concentrated a majority of black voters arbitrarily, in order to create congressional districts along racial lines. Supreme Court agreed and remanded the case. • Issue returned; justices still not satisfied that “compelling interest” was met….districts were unlawful • A covered jurisdiction's interest in creating majority minority districts in order to comply with the non-retrogression rule under §5 of the Voting Rights Act does not give it carte blanche to engage in racial gerrymandering.

  24. Winning the Primary • Rare for incumbents to lose primary • Sophomore surge—most newly elected candidates become strong in their districts quickly • The way people get elected to Congress has 2 effects: • 1) Produces legislators tied to local concerns • 2) Party leaders will be weak • Offices try to do as much for people back home—people remember this in November!

  25. What is the Role of a Congressman? • Delegate—do what their districts want • Trustee—use best judgement • Partisan—vote w/party • Politicos—balancing act • Delegates want premium committee assignments in areas affecting local policy; trustees want it to address broad issues

  26. How Members Behave: Theories • Representational—members want to get reelected, vote to please constituents • Organizational—not essential to please; constituents have no idea how their Congressman actually voted, but it is important to please other members • Attitudinal—so many conflicting pressures leave Congressmen free to vote however they like

  27. Representational View • Civil Rights laws a good example of how R. view works, social welfare less so • No correlation on foreign policy • At times, important issues emerge: Gun control, abortion, impeachment • Even Reps from marginal districts seem to be unaffected though • Problem with Rep. View: Public Opinion is not strong and clear on most issues

  28. Organizational View • Principal cue is party • Common when no obvious position/issues at stake • Example: Missile Defense

  29. Attitudinal View • Ideology affects voting • House members closer to average voter • Senators less in tune • Senate Phases: • 1950-1960: Conservative, Southern Dominated • mid-1960s: Liberal, decentralized • 1980s: Return to Conservatism • Conservative Coalition successful with budget/tax plans

  30. Ideology/Civility • Congress is increasingly ideological • (Attitudinal decline/organizational increase) • Why Polarization? Members don’t get along as well, more likely to challenge, disagree, investigate, and denounced

  31. Senate Party Organization • Majority party chooses pro tempore, largely honorific Real Leader: Majority Leader, Minority Leader • Majority leader: schedules business (consults Min. leader), recognized first in floor debate • Whips—help party leaders stay informed, rounds up votes • Each party chooses a policy committee to help the party leader schedule business • Key organizations: Democratic Steering Committee and Republican Committee on Committees…refer to Standing Committees • Senate today is less party-centered, less leader-oriented, more hospitable to freshmen, better staffed, more subcommittees

  32. House Party Structure • Leadership more imp. Because of House rules • Speaker can decide who to recognize, rules on motions, decides committee assignments for legislation, appoints special and select committee members, nominates maj. party rules committee • Parties elect maj/min floor leaders & whips • Democrats: Steering and Policy Committee • Republicans: Comm. On Committees/ Policy Committee

  33. Party Unity • Party Polarization—A vote in which a majority of voting Democrats oppose a majority of voting Republicans • Big in 1950s, trailed off during mid-1960s, recently has returned (1983 in House) • Even today’s Congress less divided than 19th Century Congress

  34. Why Party Unity? • Members do not randomly choose to be Democrats or Republicans…strong ideology • Interest groups play a “watchdog” function • On many issues, Congressmen have no personal preference or clear Conservative/Liberal stance: therefore, they look to party leaders • Supporting the Party can lead to tangible rewards later (Committee Chairmanships, Speaker, have your bill taken seriously

  35. Caucuses • Def’n: An association of members of Congress created to advocate a political ideology or a regional or economic interest • Growth: 1959-- 4 1980s—100 • Accelerated during 1970s because members sought to respond to increased external demands….members can be identified as leaders or show that they care on certain targeted issues • 104th Congress was supposedly going to try and kill caucuses…no success really, despite the new rule that says all aides working on caucus work must be housed in members’ offices…made coordination difficult

  36. Types of Caucuses (Susan Webb Hammond) • Intraparty: Same ideology (Dem. Study Group) • Personal-Interest: Issue (The Arts) • Constituency Concerns, National: (CBC, Vets) • Constituency Concerns, Regional: (Midwest) • Constituency Concerns, State/District (Rural) • Constituency Concerns, Industry (Steel) • Caucuses may not pass bills, but are often influential in shaping final legislation (ex: Blue Dog Democrats)

  37. Congressional Committees • Real work done in Committees • Standing Committees--permanent • Select Committees—limited purpose, lasts only a few Congresses • Joint Committees—Reps and Senators serve • Conference Committees—Type of joint committee where different versions of bills are compromised upon • 104th Congress: reduced # of committees • Majority party usually takes majority of seats, name chairman of committee (by seniority usually) • Only standing committees can propose legislation by reporting a bill out to the full House or Senate

  38. House Committee Rules • Committee chairs elected by secret ballot in party caucus • No member can chair more than 1 committee • All committees over 20 members must have at least 4 subcommittees • Increase committee and personal staffs • Meetings public unless members vote to close them

  39. Senate Committee Rules • Meetings public unless voters vote to close them • Chairmen elected by secret ballot at the request of 1/5 of the party caucus • Larger staffs • No Senator to chair more than 1 committee

  40. Republican Rule Changes: House • Banned proxy voting • Limited tenure of chairmen (6 yrs) and Speaker (8 yrs). • More frequent floor debate, open rules • Reduced # of committees • Committee chairmen could hire subcommittee staff • Senate: six year chairmen term, secret ballot

  41. Staffs/Offices of Congressmen • Until 1990, Congress was most rapidly growing Washington bureaucracy • Staff members spend most time servicing constituent concerns; now as many as 1/3 f the staff work in local offices, not DC • Devise proposals, write questions for hearings, draft reports, meet with lobbyists • Congress less collegial, often staff meets with staff

  42. Staff Agencies Working for Congress • Congressional Research Service (1914): Part of Library of Congress, looks up requests for information • General Accounting Office (GAO) (1921): Used to perform audits, now investigates agencies, policies, and makes recommendations on almost every aspect of government. Head appointed by President, but serves Congress • Congressional Budget Office (CBO) (1974): Advises Congress on the likely economic effects of spending programs, analyzes President’s budget, often disses it, created by 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act***

  43. How Bills Become Law • Any member introduces public or private bill • Referred to Committee** (Most bills die there) • Multiple Referrals became more common; easier to kill bills, eliminated in 1995, and replaced w/ sequential referral • Pending legislation never carries over • Of 90 major laws 1880-1945, 77 had no Presidential sponsorship • Can also pass: • Simple resolutions for rules • Concurrent resolutions—housekeeping matters for both houses • Joint Resolution—requires approval and signature, Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, Afghanistan War Resolution

  44. Once in Committee……. • Bill will be marked up, changed • Majority vote sends bill to floor • Discharge petition requires 218 members, if successful, bill goes immediately to floor (rarely successful, unnecessary in Senate due to rule differences) • For a bill to come before either house, it must be placed on a calendar (House: Union Calendar for Raising/Spending Money, House Calendar for major importance bills, Private Calendar, Consent Calendar for noncontroversial bills, Discharge Calendar; Senate: Executive Calendar and Calendar of Business

  45. Rules Committee Options • Closed Rule—limits debate, forbids introduction of amendments from the floor • Open rule—Permits amendments • Restrictive rule—limits amendments • 1970s: time of open rules • 1980s: restrictions • Now: back to open rules

  46. Amendments • Riders—Provisions attached to a piece of legislation that are nongermane to the bill’s purpose • Useful for getting an unwilling executive to sign an unappealing bill or to get the President to veto a bill that he strongly favors by tacking on distasteful provisions • Bill with lots of riders= Christmas Tree Bill

  47. How to Circumvent Rules Committee • Suspend the rules (2/3 vote required) • Discharge petition • Calendar Wednesday procedure—Any committee can bring up for action a bill of its own already on a calendar—but the entire process must be completed in one day or it returns to committee

  48. House Floor Debate • Bills considered by whoever happens to be on the floor “Committee of the Whole” • Quorum required to do business in Committee of the Whole is 100 members, Whole House= 218 • In Committee of the Whole, Sponsoring committee guides discussion, divides time, amendments must be germane and discussion limited to 5 mins/person • Quorum Calls are essentially “timeouts” that allow “strategery” to be discussed • If no quorum, must adjourn or round up absent members • Sponsoring Committee almost always wins

  49. Senate Floor Debate • No rule limiting debate • Amendments offered anytime, non-germane, but can’t be attached to appropriations bill • No Committee of the Whole • Can avoid sending bill to committee if House has already passed (Civil Rights Bills 1957, 1964) • Cloture: 16 Senators must sign petition, 2 days later 60 votes needed. After that point, each Senator is limited to 1 hour of debate • Filibusters and Cloture both more frequent in recent years • Since 1975, about 40% cloture votes successful • During filibuster, Senate can double-track, so 3 of filibusters has skyrocketed

  50. Methods of Voting • Must watch more than “the bottom line” • House: Voice vote, division vote, teller vote, roll call (roll call now electronic) • Senate: no teller vote, no electronics • If both houses vote on different versions, conference committee can iron our differences or one house can resubmit minor changes to other house for approval • Most Conferences favor Senate version of the bill • President may sign, veto, wait ten days, pocket veto • Congress can override with 2/3 vote of both houses