Congress Organizes The Legislative Branch
Objective • Students will be able to • Predict what a typical congressperson is like • Summarize key information about the legislative branch in note form • Evaluate how close their “model congressperson” against data from the 115th congress
DO NOW • In a group of 2 or 3, review the SUMMARY of Congressional members and create a “typical or average” Congressperson – in writing. (There are 100 people in the Senate and 435 in the House of Representatives) • Include the following demographics: Give the person a name and describe their: Party, Age, Education, Former Profession, Religion, Length of Service, Gender & Ethnicity. (1 PIECE OF NOTEBOOK PAPER - 10 minutes)
*Constituents • The people that a congressperson represents
Demographics of Congress • 535 Members (100 Senate, 435 House) • Not a cross section of the American society • Average member is a white male in their late 50’s • House has 88 women, Senate has 21 Current Speaker of the House of Representatives: Paul Ryan
Demographics continued • House has 49 African Americans, 40 Hispanics, 13 Asian Americans, 2 Native Americans. • Senate has 3 African Americans, 3 Asian American, 5 Hispanics, Michael Bennett, D- CO Diana DeGette, D- CO
Your Typical Congressperson • Most are married and have 2 kids • Vast majority are Christian (mostly Protestant) but also includes Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Greek Orthodox and Unitarian.
*Major Roles of Congress • Legislators, Representatives of the People: Can vote 4 different ways • Trustee: Decide how to vote based on law’s merit • Delegate: Vote as people back home would • Partisan: First allegiance to political party • Politico: Combo of other 3
Major Roles of Congress cont’d. • Committee Members: Screen proposals for bills, check out other agencies (FBI) • Servants of Constituents: Take requests from people at home for help • Politicians
Compensation Package • Members are paid $174,000 (2012) • Special tax deduction (must keep up 2 homes) • Travel allowance • Small payment for health insurance • Don’t pay for postage
Job Descriptions of Congresspeople • Congressional term lasts for 2 years: • A term of Congress is divided into two sessions, one for each year • Sessions begin at noon on January 3rd of odd numbered years
Ideas for Legislation come from: • Executive Branch • State of the Union Address outlines agenda • Cabinet also advises • Constituents • People home state have specific concerns (phone calls, polls, letters, etc.) • Interest groups (lobbyists) • Businesses, civic organization, professional associations
House of Representatives • *435 representatives: Congress decides how many each state gets based on census info. • 7 states have only one representative • Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Vermont • District of Columbia sends one rep, but they are not full members of House • *Must be 25 years old, citizen of US for 7 years, inhabit state they represent • *Serve a 2 year term – Speaker of the House is in charge
Senators • *100 members, 2 from each state (District of Columbia not represented) • *Must be 30 years old • *Citizen of US for 9 years • *Inhabit the state they represent • *Serve a 6 year term The Vice President is the President of the Senate. The President Pro Tempore fills in when he is absent.