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  1. Congress Chapter 7

  2. Congressional Membership • Bicameral Legislature Congressional Sessions • Each term of Congress starts on January 3 of odd-numbered years & lasts for 2 years. • Each term is divided into 2 sessions (or meetings). - each last for a year & includes a breaks for vacations and holidays. • Congress remain is session until members vote to adjourn (suspend/ postpone). • Neither the House or Senate can adjourn for more than 3 days w/o the other house approval. • If Congress is adjourned the President may call it back for special session if necessary.

  3. Opening Day in the House • There are a lot more things to do than the Senate because ALL 435 of the House’s members are up for reelection at the same time • Choose a Speaker • Swear in the Speaker • House members are sworn in • Change/adopt rules • Members of the 20 permanent House committees are appointed by vote

  4. Opening Day in the Senate • There are less things to do because it is a continuous body • Only 1/3 of its members are up for reelection at the same time since its members’ terms are staggered • New/reelected members are sworn in • Vacancies in Senate organization and committees are filled

  5. 113th Congress January 3, 2013 until January 3, 2015 House: • 241 Republicans • 198 Democrats Senate: • 52 Democrats • 46 Republicans • 2 Independent (leaning democrats)

  6. 113thCongressJanuary 3, 2013 until January 3, 2015 • Dem. (191) (Blue) • Rep. (240) (Red)

  7. 112th CongressJanuary 3, 2011 until January 3, 2013 • Dem. (198) (Blue) • Rep. (241) (Red)

  8. 111th CongressJanuary 3, 2009 until January 3, 2011 • Dem. (253) (Blue) • Rep. (178) (Red)

  9. Representation and Reapportionment • Representation based on census. • Population of each states determines the # of representatives this is called reapportionment. • Initially, the House had 64, 186 (1810), and 435 (1911). • Reapportionment Act of 1929-limited the # to 435 divided by the 50 states.

  10. Congressional Redistricting • After each state has their reapportioned representation, then each state legislature sets up congressional districts – one for each representative …. Redistricting.

  11. Gerrymandering- Political party controlling the state government draws a district’s boundaries to gain an advantage in elections. • Districts have irregular shapes • Elbridge Gerry- (Democratic- Republican) Gov. of Massachusetts - gave his party a gig political advantage over Federalist - created a district line that looked like a salamander Albert Stuart added the head, wings, and claws.

  12. Packing and Cracking are ways to “Gerrymander” • “Packing” means drawing the lines so they include as many of the opposite party’s voters as possible. (the opposite party has less votes) • “Cracking” means diving an opponent’s voter into other districts, to weaken the opponent’s voter base. •


  14. Redistricting and Reapportionment •

  15. Membership of the House • 435 members, US Constitution does not set the # of members. Each state is entitle to at one.

  16. Membership of the Senate • Today’s Senate includes 100 member- 2 per each state.

  17. Constitutional Differences

  18. Term of Office- House • Elected for 2 years. • Elections are held in November of even- numbered years. • Term begins January 3.

  19. Term of Office- Senate • Terms of office – Elections are held in November even number years. Term begins in January 3. 6-years term. If Senator resigns or dies the state may authorize the governor to appoint someone to fill the vacancy until the next election.

  20. Senators (FL)) • Sen. Marco Rubio [R-FL] • Sen. Bill Nelson [D-FL]

  21. Salary and Benefits- both houses set their own salaries. 27th Amend. prohibits Congress from giving itself a pay raise. Any new congressional salary will take effect after an intervening election.

  22. Privileges of Members- The Const. provides certain privileges. They are free of arrest “in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace”, when they are attending or on their way to or from Congress. • Also, each house may “punish its own members for disorderly behavior” by a majority vote and expel a legislator by a two-thirds vote. • Censure- is a vote of formal disapproval of a member’s actions.

  23. The Members of Congress • Congress includes 535 voting members. • 4 delegated in the House- 1 each from District of Columbia, Guan, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands- • 1 Commissioner from Puerto Rico ( they can’t vote on issues) • They do attend sessions, introduce bills, speak in debates, and vote in committees.

  24. Reelection to Congress: What are the advantages to incumbency?

  25. TABLE 6.2: What are the key differences between the House of Representatives and the Senate?

  26. Rules of Lawmaking • Complex Rules- Rulings are based on precedent. Both houses print their rules every 2 yrs. • Committee Work- In the House they are more important than in the Senate. Representatives form small groups. Each representative tends to specialize in a few issues/ areas that are important to the constituents. • Party Affiliation- Rep. sit to the right and Dem. to the left. • In each house the majority party leader controls the flow of legislative work, and appoints committee chairs.

  27. House Leadership • Organized leadership coordinates the work of the 435 member. These leaders serve 6 purposes: • Organize and unify party members • Schedule the work of the House • Make sure that lawmakers are present for key floor votes • Distribute and collect information • Keep the House in touch with the president • Influence lawmakers to support the policies of their political party. The Const. gives the main right to the Speaker of the House, but the House chooses all its other leaders.

  28. Speaker of the House • (Rep. Majority Leader) • Eric Cantor John Boehner • Presiding officer of the House. • Caucus, or closed meeting of the majority party chooses the Speaker of the House. • Two of the most powerful people in Congress… Speaker & majority party leader.

  29. Job of the Speaker: 1.Presiding over the sessions of the House, can influence proceeding by influencing which members to recognize first. 2. Appoints members of some committees, schedule bills for action, and refers bills to the proper committee. 3. Follows Vice-President in line of succession to the presidency.

  30. House Floor Leaders • The Speaker’s top assistant is the majority leader. • His/ her job is to plan the party’s legislative program, steer important bills, and make sure chairperson of the committees finish their work. • This leader has help from the whips- they serve as assistant floor leaders in the House. • Their job is to watch how majority-party members intend to vote on bills, persuade them to vote as the party wishes, and to see that party members are present to vote.

  31. Majority/Minority Leaders of the House Rep. Majority Leader Dem. Minority Leader Eric Cantor Nancy Pelosi

  32. Majority/ Minority Whip of the House Rep. Majority Whip Dem. Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy Steny Hoyer

  33. Lawmaking in the House • House is on session from Monday-Friday. • Mondays are routine work. Friday not much is done because representatives go back to their districts for the weekend.

  34. How House Bills are Scheduled • All laws start as a bill (a proposed law) Process: • Representatives drop it into the hopper (accessible box near the front of the chamber) • The Speaker sends it to the appropriate committee for study, discussion, and review. -112th Congress introduced 10,000- less than 5% became law • Bills that make it are put on one of the House calendars. Calendars list bills that are up for consideration. - Union Calendar- lists bills dealing with money issues. - Private Calendar – deals w/ individual people and places. - Consent Calendar- any bill that the house gives unanimous consent to debate out of regular order. - Discharged Calendar- is used for petitions to discharge a bill from committee.

  35. Hopper

  36. The House Rules Committee • The Rules Committeeserves as the “traffic officer” in the House- helps direct the flow of major legislation. (oldest and most powerful). • After a committee has considered and approved a major bill goes to this committee where a bill can move quickly, hold them back, or stop them completely. • It is often the focus of political debates.


  38. Function of the Rules Committee • Major bills that reach the floor of the House for debate and for a vote do so by a “rule’- or special order- from the Rules Committee. • Once bills pass this committee they enter on the Union Calendar of House Calendar, • These calendars have so many bills that if they are taken in the order of entrance they will never reach the floor before the end of the legislative session. • To resolve this, the chairperson of the committee that sent the bill to the Rules Com. may ask for it to move ahead of other bills and to be sent to the House floor. • If the Rules Com. accept the petition, the bills moves ahead. • The Rules Com. May also include a time limit for debate on the floor.

  39. A Quorum for Business • Quorum is a the minimum # of members who must be present to permit a legislative body to take official action. • A regular session, a quorum consist of the majority of the house (218 members). • When the house meets to debate and amend legislation it may often sit as a Committee of the Whole w/ 100 members. • It can not pass a bill but can make changes.

  40. The Senate • The rules are different than in the House. • The atmosphere is more informal, the purpose is that in the Senate, senators have more freedom to express their ideas. • They allow unlimited debates, they may debate for days, weeks, and months. • The Senate has no Speaker, the VP of the US presides the Senate, but can only vote to break a tie.

  41. Joe Biden –Role of the VP in the Senate - Not the same role as the Speaker of the House. - Does not take part of Senate debates/ only when there is a tie. - May influence Senate through personal contact w/ senators. - This person devotes much time to the executive branch; therefore, the PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE (“for the time being”), presides. The Senate elect this leader, it is from the majority party and is usually its most senior member.

  42. President Pro TemporePatrick Leahy (D-VT)

  43. Majority and Minority Floor Leaders • Most important of the Senate. • Elected by the members of their political parties. • The majority leader job is to guide the party’s bills through the Senate. • To do this the he or she plans the Senate’s work schedule and agenda consulting the minority leader. • The majority leader is responsible for making the majority party members attend sessions and support the bills. • The minority leader develops criticisms of the majority party’s bills and tries to keep senators in the minority party working together.

  44. Majority/Minority Leaders of the Senate Dem. Majority Leader Rep. Minority Leader Harry Reid Mitch McConnell

  45. Majority/ Minority Whip of the Senate • The second ranking member of the Senate. Asst. Majority Leader Asst. Minority Leader Dick Durbin Jon Kyl

  46. How are the House of Representatives & Senate Organized?

  47. How Senate Bills are Scheduled • Senate has only 2 calendars. • The Calendar of General Orders- list all the bills the Senate will consider. • Executive Calendar- schedules treaties and nominations.