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Structure of Congress

Structure of Congress

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Structure of Congress

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  1. Structure of Congress Objective: • Understand how Congress is organized Bell Ringer: List the qualifications for serving in Congress as set forth in the Constitution. In your opinion, are there other qualifications that should be applied to holding office in Congress? For example, should lawmakers have certain legal or technical training? Why or why not? Agenda: Congressional structure Compensation Elections/gerrymandering Homework: Letter signed Read Chapter 10 Sections 2 and 3 Outline each

  2. Structure of Congress Objective: • Understand how Congress is organized • Analyze the theories of representation Bell Ringer: Congress is a frequent target of criticism in the media and elsewhere. Yet the text says that the members of Congress are on the whole hardworking and able people. How can you explain the existence of these two opposing viewpoints? Agenda: Members of Congress Theories of Representation Homework: Read Chapter 10 Section 4 Chapter Assessment #1 - 23

  3. Structure of Congress Objective: • Identify the leadership positions in Congress and who currently holds these positions • Understand how committees in Congress are organized • Analyze how committees operate Bell Ringer: Choose three Congressional powers and indicate why the Framers gave these powers to Congress rather than the states. Agenda: Congressional Leadership Committees in Congress Homework: Use the Study Guide to prepare for your test A Day = April 30 B Day = May 1

  4. How Congress WorksPart 1: Structure, Organization, & Legislative Process

  5. Who’s in Congress?

  6. “upper house” elected by state legislature and each state having equal representation “lower house” elected by the people and membership based on population all states (except Nebraska) have followed this model in their state legislatures in many other nations with bicameral legislatures the upper house is largely ceremonial the hope was that it would keep government from infringing upon citizen’s rights Bicameral Legislature

  7. Each term lasts for two years New sessions start at 12:00 p.m. on January 3rd of every odd-numbered year (Congress can however select a different day to convene) We are currently in the 111th session of Congress Special sessions may be called only by the President to deal with emergency situations Neither House of Congress has a cap on the number of terms a member may serve Congress

  8. House 435 members; 2 yr terms Low turnover Speaker bill referral hard to challenge Scheduling/rules controlled by majority party with powerful Rules Committee (controls time of debate, amends., etc) Senate 100 members; 6 yr terms Moderate turnover Referral decisions easily challenged Scheduling/rules agreed to by majority & minority leaders House-Senate Differences

  9. House Debate limited to 1 hour Members policy specialists Emphasizes tax & revenue policy More formal & impersonal Senate Unlimited debate unless cloture invoked Members policy generalists Emphasizes foreign policy More informal & personal House-Senate Differences

  10. Ethnically, socially, economically the make-up of Congress is not actually representative of the general population.  In general members of Congress are: White males in their early 50’s Married Two children Christian Protestant The vast majority have college degrees and many have advanced degrees A large number were lawyers Congressional Membership

  11. Age Groups Party Ethnicity Gender Demographic Profile of the 111th Congress Source: Source:

  12. Structure of Congress Objective: • Understand how Congress is organized • Analyze the theories of representation Bell Ringer: Read the article “Replacement Congress” Do you think the mass replacement of representatives through special election under the circumstances in this article would be approved of by the Framers? What is another option that could be considered? Agenda: Theories of Representation Leadership in Congress Congressional Committees Homework: • Chapter 11 Part 2 Overview • Quiz next class

  13. Make laws Represent the interests of their constituents Serve on committees Serve their constituencies Politicians Role of Congress

  14. Members of Congress tends to fit into one of four categories when it comes to decision making. Partisanship Theory/Organizational View: Feel that people voted for them because of their political beliefs Tend to vote the way their particular party does The party’s goals are the end Theories of Representation

  15. Trustee Theory/Attitudinal View: Decide each political situation based on its own individual merit Lead and inform Do what is right It is the end, not the process that is important Theories of Representation

  16. Delegate Theory/Representational View: View themselves as agents of those who elected them Do as voters request It is the process, not the end that is important Theories of Representation

  17. Politicos Theory: Strive to combine elements of the two into their decision making Try to balance their views, with the views of their constituents and their party’s views The process used and the ends achieved are important Theories of Representation

  18. Party Unity • Lower today than 100 years ago, but….. • Ideology important variable explaining party voting (members vote with their party 80% of the time) • Party polarization - vote in which majority of democrats oppose majority of republicans • Polarization trends: • 1976 HR = 36%; S = 37% • 1995 HR = 73%; S = 69% • 2000 HR = 43%; S = 49%

  19. The House Led by Speaker of the House—elected by House members Presides over House Major role in committee assignments and legislation Assisted by majority leader and whips The Senate Formally lead by Vice President Really lead by Majority Leader—chosen by party members Assisted by whips Must work with Minority leader Congressional Leadership

  20. Party Leadership • The House • Led by Speaker of the House—elected by House members • Presides over House • Major role in committee assignments and legislation • Assisted by majority leader and whips • The Senate • Formally lead by Vice President • Really lead by Majority Leader—chosen by party members • Assisted by whips • Must work with Minority leader

  21. HOUSE LEADERSHIP Speaker (majority party) Republicans: • Majority Leader • Majority Whip • Chairman of the Caucus • Steering & Policy Committee • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)

  22. HOUSE LEADERSHIP Democrats: • Minority Leader • Minority Whip • Chairman of Conference • Policy Committee • Committee on Committees • National Republican Congressional Committee • Research Committee Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

  23. SENATE LEADERSHIP President of the Senate (Vice President) President Pro Tempore (majority party) Democrats: • Majority Leader • Majority Whip • Chairman of Conference • Policy Committee • Steering Committee • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee President of the Senate Joe Biden (D-DE) President Pro Temp Daniel Inouye (D-HI) Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)

  24. SENATE LEADERSHIP Republicans: • Minority Leader • Minority Whip • Chairman of Conference • Policy Committee • Committee on Committees • Republican Senatorial Committee Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ)

  25. Strength of Party Structure? • Measure of party strength: • Ability of leaders to control party rules and organization • Extent to which party members vote together in the House and Senate • Senate: less party-centered and leader oriented

  26. How Congress is Organized to Make Policy • Caucuses: The Informal Organization of Congress • Caucus: a group of members of Congress sharing some interest or characteristic • About 300 caucuses • Caucuses pressure for committee meetings and hearings and for votes on bills. • Caucuses can be more effective than lobbyists.

  27. CAUCUSES • Groups (may be bipartisan) meeting to pursue common legislative objectives • Rivals to parties in policy formulation • Examples: Democratic Study Group, Congressional Black Caucus, Tuesday Lunch Bunch, Human Rights, Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, Out of Iraq Caucus, Rural Caucus, Travel & Tourism Caucus, House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children

  28. "Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee-rooms is Congress at work.” - Woodrow Wilson

  29. Legislative Committees: Function and Purpose

  30. 1. Consider bills(a.k.a. “mark-up” bills) Legislative Committees:Function & Purpose A bill with a member’s mark-up notes

  31. 2. Maintain oversight of executive agencies Legislative Committees:Function & Purpose Secretary Donald Rumsfeld testifies before a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing re: the Department of Defense Budget (May, 2006)

  32. 3. Conduct investigations Legislative Committees:Function & Purpose New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Hurricane Katrina (Feb., 2006)

  33. Types of Committees • Standing Committees- permanent panel with full legislative functions and oversight responsibilities • Subcommittees – formed to tackle very specific tasks within the jurisdiction of the full committees • Select or Special Committees- groups appointed for a limited purpose and limited duration • Joint Committees - includes members of both chambers to conduct studies or perform housekeeping tasks • Conference Committee - includes members of House & Senate to work out differences between similar bills

  34. Standing Committees

  35. Agriculture Appropriations Armed Services Budget Education & Workforce Energy & Commerce Financial Services Government Reform House Admin. International Relations Judiciary Resources Rules Science Small Business Standards of Official Conduct Transportation & Infrastructure Veterans Affairs Ways & Means House Standing Committees

  36. Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Appropriations Armed Services Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs Budget Commerce, Science, Transportation Energy & Natural Resources Environment and Public Works Finance Foreign Relations Governmental Affairs Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Judiciary Rules and Administration Small Business and Entrepreneurship Veterans Affairs Senate Standing Committees

  37. House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming Senate Select Committee on Ethics House & Senate Select Committees on Intelligence Special, Select Committees Gen. Michael Hayden is sworn in during a full committee hearing of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on his nomination to bedirector of the Central Intelligence Agency.

  38. Joint Committees • Joint Economic Committee • Joint Committee on Printing • Joint Committee on Taxation Joint Committee on Taxation hearing

  39. How Congress is Organized to Make Policy • Getting on a Committee • Members want committee assignments that will help them get reelected, gain influence, and make policy. • New members express their committee preferences to the party leaders. • Those who have supported their party’s leadership are favored in the selection process. • Parties try to grant committee preferences.

  40. How Congress is Organized to Make Policy • Getting Ahead on the Committee • Committee chair: the most important influencer of congressional agenda • Dominant role in scheduling hearings, hiring staff, appointing subcommittees, and managing committee bills when they are brought before the full house • Most chairs selected according to seniority system. • Members who have served on the committee the longest and whose party controlled Congress become chair

  41. How Congress is Organized to Make Policy • Congressional Staff • Personal staff: They work for the member, mainly providing constituent service, but help with legislation too. • Committee staff: organize hearings, research and write legislation, target of lobbyists • Staff Agencies: CRS, GAO, CBO provide specific information to Congress

  42. The Legislative Obstacle Course

  43. How A Bill Becomes Law Fact: About 5,000 bills are introduced in Congress every year, but only about 150 are signed into law. Explain why so few bills become law. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Should the legislative process in Congress be reformed? If yes, what changes would you recommend? If not, why not? Source:

  44. Title: Resolution Artist: Bob Gorrell Date: 12/28/06 Source:

  45. Artist: R.J. Matson, New York Observer & Roll Call Date: 1/18/07 Source:

  46. Title: Imagine there’s no Congress Artist: Joe Heller, Green Bay Press-Gazette Date: 6/06/07 Source:

  47. Title: Senator Reid Can Handle the Truth Artist: RJ Matson Date: 6/18/07 Source:

  48. Source: 5/6/06