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Overview

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Overview

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  1. Overview • Structure • Organization • Functions • Legislative Process • Representation • Reapportionment and Redistricting • Gerrymandering • Elections/Demographics/Democracy

  2. Structure Congress Senate House of Representatives

  3. Structure Congress Senate House of Representatives 435 members 2 year term local districts 100 members 6 year term state

  4. Structure Congress Senate House of Representatives Must be 30 years oldUS citizen for 9 yearsResident of state Must be 25 years oldUS citizen for 7 yearsResident of state

  5. Demographics Congress Senate(100) House of Representatives (435) 56 Democratic 41 Republicans 2 Independents 1 race undecided yet 257 Democratic 178 Republican

  6. Demographics Congress Senate(100) House of Representatives (435) 83 Men 17 Women* *Highest total ever 360 Men 75 Women

  7. Demographics Congress Senate(100) House of Representatives (435) 94 White 1 Black 3 Hispanic 2 Asian 364 White42 Black25 Hispanic4 Asian

  8. Demographics Congress Senate(100) House of Representatives (435) Average Age: 62 Average age: 57

  9. Powers Congress Senate House of Representatives Convict federal officals for impeachable offenses Advise and Consent role on presidential powers Impeach federal officals Originates all revenue raising bills

  10. Procedures Congress Senate House of Representatives Fewer rules and restrictions More individualistic More formal rules More partisan

  11. Prestige Congress Senate House of Representatives Greater national leadership More national media exposure More local/regional power base More local media exposure

  12. Organization • Both chambers rely on two overlapping organizational features to get work done: • The Party System • The Committee System

  13. Organization • Parties determine leadership in both chambers • Leadership determines committee structure and assignments

  14. Majority Elects Speaker Leader Whips Minority Elects Leader Whips Party System in House Nancy Pelosi(D, CA) John Boehner (R, OH) Official House Leadership Webpages: http://www.house.gov/house/orgs_pub_hse_ldr_www.shtmlCampaign Finance of Leadership http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/index.asp

  15. Majority elects: President Pro Tempore Leader Whips Minority Elects Leader Whips Party System in Senate President of the Senate (Vice President) Robert Byrd (D, VA) Harry Reid(D, NV) Mitch McConnell (R, KY) Official Senate Leadership Webpages:http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/senators/a_three_sections_with_teasers/leadership.htmCampaign Finance of Leadershiphttp://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/index.asp

  16. Party in Congress • Over the past 20 years we have seen a marked increase in partisan divide in Congress • Party unity scores (the number of times that members of party vote with other members of the party) have increased dramatically • Bipartisan agreements are more difficult to obtain (e.g., stimulus package vote)

  17. Committee System • Three (3) types of committees • Standing • Select • Joint

  18. Committee System • Three (3) types of committees • Standing • Semi-Permanent (they can be changed, but rarely are) committees in House and Senate devoted to relatively narrow area of public policy links: http://www.house.gov/house/CommitteeWWW.shtmlhttp://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/committees/d_three_sections_with_teasers/committees_home.htm

  19. Committee System • Three (3) types of committees • Select • Temporary committee established for a limited time period and for a specific purpose • House select committeeshttp://www.house.gov/house/CommitteeWWW.shtml • Senate select committeeshttp://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/committees/d_three_sections_with_teasers/committees_home.htm

  20. Committee System • Three (3) types of committees • Joint • Legislative committee composed of members of both chambers of Congress • Most common is the “Conference Committee” which reconciles competing House and Senate versions of a bill

  21. Functions of Congress • Lawmaking • Representation • Constituent Service • Oversight • Public Education • Conflict Resolution

  22. Functions of Congress • Lawmaking • Enumerated Powers (most are in Article I, section 8) • Implied powers of “necessary and proper” clause

  23. Legislative Process • Click here for a quick video description of the legislative process link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dVo3nbLYC0

  24. Representation • Basic Theories of Representation • Delegate: Elected official attempts to determine as best as possible the views of the electorate and vote accordingly

  25. Representation • Trustee: Elected official attempts to determine what is in the best interest of the electorate and vote accordingly

  26. Representation • Politico: Combination of the preceding two

  27. Representation • Representation in the House requires states to divide themselves into legislative districts, based on a number determined by the state’s population • Each state required (Art. I, clause 3) to have at least one (1) representative

  28. Reapportionment • Up through 1910 census, size of the House membership expanded as the population expanded • 1911 Congress capped the membership at 435, so since 1920 census Congress must reapportion seats among the states to reflect shifts in population growth rates

  29. Redistricting • Redrawing legislative districts within states to reflect population shifts and reapportionment results • Occurs every 10 years, after the decennial census • Next census is 2010 • Districts are drawn according to state government plans (some states use the legislature, some use special “commissions”

  30. Gerrymander • Drawing congressional districts for partisan advantage

  31. Gerrymander 3 1 4 2 Packing

  32. Gerrymander 4 1 3 2 Cracking

  33. Redistricting • Since the 1960s though, districts are required to contain roughly the same number of people • Baker v. Carr (1964) • Wesberry v. Sanders (1964) • Drawing gerrymandered districts is more difficult now than it was, but it can still be done

  34. Elections • Impact of districting: • fewer “competitive” seats • 2008 New Jersey datahttp://www.opensecrets.org/states/election.asp?State=NJ&year=2006 • higher re-election rates for incumbents • see chart in text for data from 1946 through the 2004 election • 2008 results: 95.3% of incumbents reelected

  35. Elections • Other factors contributing to incumbent advantage: • Fundraising • Check the Center for Responsive Politics website for the spending differentials among challengers and incumbents http://www.opensecrets.org/races/index.asp

  36. Elections • Other factors contributing to incumbent advantage • Name recognition among electorate • Easier access to media • Easier access to electorate • “franking” privilege

  37. Useful Links • Overview of the Legislative Process:http://thomas.loc.gov/home/lawsmade.toc.html • Rules of the 110th Congress (House)http://www.rules.house.gov/ruleprec/house_rules.htm • Process in the Senate Legislativehttp://thomas.loc.gov/home/enactment/enactlawtoc.html