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  1. CONGRESS Chapter 7 O’Connor and Sabato American Government: Continuity and Change

  2. Choose two cartoons to analyze. then state your position.

  3. Roots of the Legislative Branch • The U.S. Congress was greatly influenced by the American colonial experience and by the Articles of Confederation. • Under the British, colonial assemblies were chosen as advisory bodies to the royal governors. • These assemblies gradually assumed more power and authority in each colony, eventually gaining responsibility over taxation and spending. • The weaknesses of the Articles led to the Philadelphia Convention in 1787.

  4. CONGRESS In this chapter we will cover… • Roots of the Legislative Branch • The Constitution and the Legislative Branch • The Members of Congress • How Congress is Organized • The Law-making Function of Congress • How Members Make Decisions • Congress and the President

  5. The Constitution and the Legislative Branch of Government • Article I creates a bicameral legislative branch of government. • The upper house is called the Senate in which each state receives two representatives. • The lower house is called the House of Representatives which is apportioned by population. • The Senate has a six-year term with 1/3 of the seats up for reelection every two years. • House members serve two-year terms.

  6. Apportionment and Redistricting • The Constitution requires that all Americans be counted every ten years by a census. • The census determines the representation in the House of Representatives. • Redistricting (the redrawing of congressional districts to reflect changes in seats allocated to the states from population shifts) is done by state legislatures and, of course, always has political overtones. • When the process is outrageously political, it is called gerrymandering and has been struck down by the courts.

  7. Gerrymandering • Apportionment on basis of population • Contiguous lines (no unbroken lines) • Purposeful gerrymandering to dilute minorities is illegal (Voting Rights of 1965)

  8. Alabama Congressional Districts

  9. After reading page 479-480 on ‘redistricting’ write an essay indicating your position on the use of independent commissions to redraw districts as opposed to allowing the majority party to control redistricting

  10. Spend Money Regulate Commerce Taxation Create Courts Powers of Congress Lawmaking Declare War Make all laws “necessary and proper” to carrying out the enumerated powers

  11. Constitutional Powers of Congress • The most important constitutional power of Congress is the power to make laws. • This power is shared by the House and the Senate. • In order to become a law, a bill must be passed by both the House and the Senate.

  12. Initiate revenue bills Two-year term 435 Formal Specialist Tax policy Advise and consent Six-year term 100 Relaxed Generalist Foreign policy Key DifferencesHouseSenate

  13. The Members of Congress • Congress is older, better educated, whiter, and richer than most of us. • Avg. age is 60 in the Senate • Avg. age is 45 in the House • However, great strides have been made. Currently, both California senators are women. • Can a man represent a woman? • Can a white person adequately represent the views of a black person?

  14. Approval Ratings of Congress and District Representatives

  15. Veterans in Congress


  17. The Representational Role of Members of Congress • How should an elected official represent his/her constituents? • Trustee--representatives use their own best judgment • Delegate--representatives vote the way their constituents want them to • Politico--representatives act as trustee or delegate depending on the issue

  18. Party Affiliation • Majority party select leaders in House • Controls flow of legislation • Appoints committee chairs • 1994 some Democrats switched party to be in the majority party (Republican) • Term limits (6 years) for chairpersons and Speaker • No absentee voting in committees

  19. How Congress is Organized • Every two years, a new Congress is seated. • The first order of business is the election of leaders and adoption of new rules. • Both houses of Congress are organized on the basis of party for both leadership and committee purposes.

  20. House Leadership • Lead 435 members • 6 Purposes of leaders • Organizing and unifying • Full attendance on key votes • Scheduling work • Information collecting and distributing • Staying in touch with President • Urging party line votes

  21. Speaker of the House • Chosen in caucus of majority party • Only leader mentioned in the Constitution • Presiding officer and most powerful • Decides which members have the floor • Appoints committee members • Schedules bills for action • Refers bills to the proper Standing Committee • 2nd in line for Presidency

  22. Speaker of the HouseJohn Boehner

  23. House Floor Leaders Majority Leader • Helps plan legislative program • Steer important bills • Elected by majority party • Direct communication with Chairpersons • Party official not a House official

  24. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

  25. House Floor Leaders Majority Whip • Pressure members to vote on party lines • Make sure members are present to vote Minority Leader • Similar duties as majority leader • No power in scheduling legislation Minority Whip • Same as majority whip

  26. House Rules Committee • TrafficOfficer • Oldest/most powerful committee • Receives bill after approved in committee • Chairperson chosen by Speaker • Establishes ‘rule’ or ‘special order’ • When bill goes to the floor for debate or vote • Sets time limit for debate • Sets rules on amending bill on the floor

  27. House Rules Committee • Settles disputes between committees considering the same bill • Can delay or stop an unpopular bill • Quorum – minimum number of representatives necessary to vote on a bill • 218 members for regular session • 100 members(Committee of the Whole) can be established to debate and amend • Reports back to the full House for a vote

  28. The Senate • Senators knowledgeable on many issues • Millionaires Club • Many have advanced degrees • More flexible rules than House on debate • Often take longer to debate issues • Maximum freedom to express ideas • Informal atmosphere

  29. Senate Leaders • No Speaker • Vice President (President of the Senate) • Very little authority • Tie-breaker • May try to influence Senators on bills • President pro-tempore - (‘for the time being’) often stands in for the Vice President • Belongs to the majority party • Currently Robert Byrd • Usually the oldest members

  30. Vice President (President of the Senate) President Pro-tempore Joe Biden Daniel Inouye

  31. Majority and Minority Leaders • Elected by members • Party officials not officers • Majority Leader • Steers bills through Senate • Plans Senate’s work schedule and agenda • With help from Minority leader • Makes members attend important sessions • Minority Leader • Develops criticism of majority party bills • Majority whip and Minority whip • Make sure members are present to vote

  32. Senate Majority Leader Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid Mitch McConnell

  33. Schedule Senate Bills • Any senator may introduce bill • No need for rules committee • Scheduling done by consultation • Brought to floor only by unanimous consent • Two Calendars • Calendar of General Orders • Lists all bills that will be considered • Executive Calendar • Lists schedule for treaties and appointments

  34. Filibuster • Talk until bill is abandoned or modified by a majority of the Senators • After first 3 hours can talk on any topic • Strom Thurmond of South Carolina holds the record • Filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957 • Cloture - 3/5 vote or 60 members vote to limit debate to 1 hour per Senator • Not as powerful any more • Senate sets aside time to handle other bills • Threat of filibuster can delay or defeat bill

  35. Congressional Committees • Divide work among smaller groups • Allows for lawmakers to specialize in one area • Serves to reduce the amount of bills to be voted on in the full House • Compromises made in committee • Public hearings and investigations • Draw public attention to important issues

  36. Standing Committees • Continue from one Congress to the next • Majority party selects chairpersons • Majority party has the most seats on most committees (% of total house) • Majority has super majority on the most important committees • 1995 Republican Congress • Changed structure and titles of committees • Established a 6 year term limit on chairperson

  37. Sub-Committees • Almost all Standing Committees have sub-committees • Specialization • Conduct hearings and investigations • Often continue from one Congress to next

  38. Select Committees • Study one specific issue and report findings to the House or Senate • Matters of great public concern • Overlooked problems like hunger, poverty, homelessness • Investigate problems of interest groups • Temporary although have continued to future Congresses • Select Intelligence Committee since 1993

  39. Joint and Conference Committees Joint Committee Conference Committee Members from both houses Different versions of a bill Temporary Resolve differences between bills by bargaining Majority agree on compromise bill Conference report Must be voted on without amendment • Members from both houses • Do not consider bills • Temporary or Permanent • Routine matters • Joint Committee on Printing • Joint Committee on the Library of Congress • Study Groups • Joint Economic Committee • Atomic energy, defense and taxation

  40. Chairperson • Most powerful members of Congress • Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 • Member majority can call meetings • Reasonable notice for meeting • Key decisions on work of committees • Hire staff and control budget • When committees meet • Which bills to consider and for how long • Hearings • Schedule • Decide which witnesses to call • Manage floor debates

  41. Seniority System • Seniority – length of continuous service • No longer decides leadership on committees • Highest ranking member selected as chair • Secret ballot • Limit of three – 2 year terms (6 years) • 1971, 1975 and 1995 replaced senior chairpersons with ranking members

  42. Staff and Support Agencies • Communicate with voters • Help run committee meetings & floor sessions • Draft new bills – FAA/Transportation Dept. bill on animal transportation • Write committee reports and attend meetings • Help with reelection • Publicity and political developments back home • Help raise funds for re-election • Meet with lobbyists

  43. Different Types of Congressional Committees • Standing Committee: continues from one Congress to the next. • Joint Committee: set up to expedite business between the two houses. Bring attention to issues of national interest. • Conference committee: special joint committees that resolve differences in bills passed by either house. • Ad hoc, special, or select committees: temporary committees designed for a specific purpose.

  44. The Law-Making Function of Congress • Only a member of the House or Senate may introduce a bill but anyone can write a bill. • Over 10,000 bills are proposed and fewer than 5 to 10% are enacted. • Most bills originate in the Executive Branch. • A bill must survive three stages to become a law: committees, the floor, and the conference committee. A bill can die at any stage.

  45. How a Bill Becomes Law House Senate Introduced Clerk assign number Referred to Committee By Majority Leader Committee refers to sub-cmte Research Hold Hearings Sunshine Laws Votes Returned to Full Committee Markup session or reject Hold or Filibuster Hold to be fully informed Cloture • Introduced • Clerk assigns number • Referred to Committee • By Speaker • Referred to sub-committee • Research • Hold Hearings • Sunshine Laws • Votes • Returned to Full Committee • Mark-up session or reject • Committee on Rules • Sent to Committee on Rules (traffic cop function • Given a Rule for:

  46. How a Bill Becomes Law House Senate • Sixteen Senators sign motion for cloture • 60 Members to limit debate • No more than 30 hours • Date bill comes up for debate • Time allotted for discussion • Types of amendments –or- Closed Rule (no amendments allowed) Committee of the Whole 100 members to deliberate Bill is debated on House Floor Amendments offered Vote is Taken Sent to Senate if passes

  47. Congress and the President

  48. China Trade Act 2000 • Trade Act 1974 – President can grant “most favored” trade status • China enters World Trade Org.(WTO) late ‘99 • President Clinton proposes legislation to extend permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to China • Meets with lawmakers to build support • Travels to Midwest and California • S2277 Submitted by Sen. Roth(R-DE) Mar. 2000 • Referred to Finance Committee

  49. China Trade Act 2000 • Concern about human rights issues, rule of law and labor market issues • HR4444 U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China submitted May 15 • Referred House Ways and Means Committee • Committee Rules allowed 3 hours of debate with a closed rule • Clinton sends Secy. Of Commerce to sell bill • Gathers support from Chinese dissidents and Billy Graham – “will improve human rights”