Unit 8 Chapter 5, Sections 4-5 Congressional Committees, Staff, and Support Agencies Mr. Young
Essential Question • What is the purpose and why does Congress need Congressional Committees and Support Staff?
I CAN: • Explain the major purposes of Congressional Committees • Define the 4 kinds of Congressional Committees • Evaluate how Committee Members are chosen
Life-Skill Application • Don’t be afraid to ask for help in life if you do not understand what you are doing or just do not have the time to do it.
Quote by Woodrow Wilson • “Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee-rooms is Congress at work.” (1885)
Purposes of Committees • Effectively consider thousands of bills • Help to ease workload and key power centers in Congress
4 Purposes of Committees • Divide work among smaller groups • Committees select few bills that receive further considerations • Listen to supporters and oppenents of bills
4 Purposes Cont. • By holding public hearings and investigations, have made the public learn about key problems facing nation • Provide legislative oversight- investigate executive agencies to make sure they are carrying out bills as Congress intended
4 Types of Committees • Standing Committees • Select Committees • Joint Committees • Conference Committees
Standing Committees • Permanent committees which oversee bills dealing with specific issues that carry over to the next Congress • Controlled by majority party in each house and has majority of members • Majority party also selects chairperson for each standing committee • 20 committees in House • 16 committees in Senate
Choosing of Standard Committee Members • Usually chosen based on these criteria: • Seniority • Geographical Distribution • Preference • Expertise
Subcommittees • A group within the standing committee that specializes in a particular subcategory • Usually continues from each Congress to the next • Each standing committee has around 5 subcommittees • Members of each party on a committee decides who will serve in subcommittee Subcommittees • Subcommittee on African Affairs • Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs • Subcommittee on European Affairs • Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs and International Environmental Protection • Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women's Issues • Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs • Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps and Global Narcotics Affairs
Select Committees • A temporary committee formed to study one specific issue and report its findings to the Senate or the House • Usually cannot report bills to parent chambers • Issues can contain: • Matters of public concern • Overlooked problems • Problems of interest groups • Examples include: • Senate Select Committee on Ethics • House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (House Ethics Committee)
Joint Committees • Examples Include: • Joint Committee on Printing • Joint Committee on Library of Congress • A committee made up of both members of the House and Senate that act as a study group with the responsibility for reporting findings back to both Houses. • In theory, joint comittees coordinate the work of the two houses • In practice, lawmakers usually limit joint committees to handling routine matters • Do not have authority to deal directly with bills or propose legislation
Conference Committees • A temporary committee set up when the House and Senate have passed different versions of the same bill • Job is to resolve differences between the two versions • Both house must pass identical same bill before it is sent to the President • Once the final compromise bill (or conference report) has reached the floors, it must be considered as a whole without amendments
Choosing Committee Members • Extremely important because: • Increase your chances of being reelected • Influence national policy making • Exert influence over other lawmakers because they deal with matters important to all of Congress • Important House Committees: • Rules, Ways and Means, and Appropriations Committee • Important Senate Committees: • Foreign Relations, Finance, and Appropriations
Role of Committee Chairperson • Along with party leaders, chairperson of standing committees are most powerful members of Congress • Make key decisions about work of committees • When hearings will be held and witnesses will be called upon • Hire staff and control budget • Manage floor debates on bills that come from their committee
Seniority System • Unwritten rule in selecting chairperson gave the member of the majority party with the longest uninterrupted service on a particular committee the leadership of that committee • Reformed in the 1970’s and weakened the power of the committee chairs
Chapter 5, Section 5 Staff and Support Agencies
Essential Question • Has the demand on Congressmen and the rapid growth of government caused Congressional staff members to become to powerful?
I CAN: • Explain the importance of Congressional Staff Roles and how it has expanded over the years. • Analyze the two different types of Congressional Staffs. • Evaluate how Congress has created Support Agencies to help it keep some power over the Executive branch.
Life-Skill Application • Even if you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, you still need help from experts in fields you are not familiar with.
Congressional Staff Roles • Do much of the important work on legislation such as: • Handle the growing workload of Congress • Communicate with voters • Help run committee hearings and floor sessions • Draft new bills • Write committee reports • Attend committee meetings • Help them get reelected
Internet and Congressional Staff • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0gZnnI68cA
Congressional Staff Growth • Two major reasons for growth: • Became a great way to get expert help in areas that they were not very informed in • Constituents demands have increased over the years
Lawmaker’s explanation “More than half my total staff time is devoted to resolving individual difficulties that have developed between citizens and their government.”
Two types of Congressional Staff Personal Staff Committee Staff Work for the many House and Senate committees Chairperson and senior minority party member are in charge Some are very experienced and experts in their field. Draft bills Study issues Collect information Plan committee hearings Write memos Prepare committee reports • Work directly for individual senators and representatives • Administrative Assistant (AA)- runs the lawmaker’s office, supervises the lawmaker’s schedule, and gives advice on political matters • Legislative Assistant (LA)- helps lawmaker become well informed about the many bills; assists in committee meetings and attends when lawmakers are not present • Caseworker- handle the many requests for help from people in the lawmaker’s state or congressional districit
Printing Office Videos • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuW6Q-bXtaI&feature=relmfu • Brief History (3 min) • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aarQl3xAysw&feature=relmfu • Extensive History (7 min) • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkYVRVmbIAk&feature=related • Another History
Support Agencies 1) Library of Congress • Established in 1800 • Congressional Research Services (CRS)- Along with LOC, helps lawmakers with research on bills 3) General Accounting Office • GAO established in 1921 • Nation’s watchdog over the spending of funds Congress appropriates • Headed by comptroller general appointed to 15 year term 2) Congressional Budget Office • CBO established in 1974 • Coordinate the budget-making process of Congress • Cost projections of proposed new programs • Counterbalances OMB 4) Government Printing Office • GPO is the largest multi-purpose printing plant in the world • Prints for entire federal gov’t • Prints Congressional Record, all bills introduced and speeches and testimonies, daily.
Library of Congress Video • http://www.loc.gov/more/mtal.html • More than a Library video