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How is Congress Organized in General?
- •Every 2 years, new Congress is seated
- •First is election of leaders and adoption of new rules
- •Both houses organized on basis of party for both leadership & committee purposes
How is Congress organized with House of Representatives? (speaker of the House)
- –Only House officer mentioned in Constitution
- –Member of majority party
- –2nd in line of presidential succession (after vice president)
- –Connection with president & promotes parties’ legislation through Congress
How is Congress organized with House of Representatives? (Majority and Minority Leaders)
–Elected by their own parties in party caucuses
- -Coordinate party strategy and try to keep their parties united
- -Leadership positions have few specific powers, so positions require skill, intelligence, personality, and ability to compromise
Key Differences in Responsibilities of House of Representatives
- •Initiates revenue bills
- •Draws up impeachment charges
- •Deals with tax policy
- •Chooses President if no candidate wins electoral majority
Key Differences in Responsibilities of Senate
- •Consents on treaties & appointments
- •Tries impeachment cases
- •Deals with foreign policy
- •Chooses VP if no candidate wins electoral majority
Key Differences in Operations of House and Senate
- •More formal
- •Stronger leadership
- •Rules Committee –(control over time and rules)
- •Members highly specialized
- •Less formal
- •Less centralized
- •Weaker leadership
- •Filibuster –(limited only by cloture vote)
- •More personal
What is the term of the Senate?
Why is the term of the Senate longer?
-so it can deal with more weighty issues that may not appeal to people such as foreign policy
-To insure that statesmen served in Senate
What is the term of the House of Representative?
House of Representative members represent...
districts within states; thus closer & more responsive to people
The formal requirements for membership in Senate are...
- –30 years old
- –nine years a U.S. resident
- –legal resident of their state
The formal requirements for membership in House of Representative are...
- –25 years old
- –seven years a U.S. resident
- –legal resident of their state
In 1913, Amendment 17 was added to the Constitution; it provided...
for direct election of senators
The Constitution requires that all Americans be counted every how many years by a census
The census determines the representation in
the House of Representatives
- –controlled by majority party & set congressional agenda
- –highly specialized & have staffs of their own
Different Types of Congressional Committees
- •Standing Committee
- •Joint Committee
- •Conference Committee
- •Ad Hoc, Special, or Select Committees
set up to expedite business between 2 houses
special joint committees that resolve differences in bills passed by either house
Ad Hoc, Special, or Select Committees
temporary committees designed for specific purpose
Why does a member of Congress seek a particular committee?
- –Interest or expertise in the area
- –subject matter will help them get reelected
- –Access to pork barrel
- –Support & defend interests vital to district or state
What are the powers of the Committee Chairs
- –Authorized to select all subcommittee chairs
- –Can kill a bill by not scheduling hearings on it
- –Have staff at their disposal
Article V creates a two-stage process for amending the Constitution
proposal and ratification
proposal and ratification
- •An amendment can be proposed by 2/3 of both houses of Congress or by 2/3 of state legislatures requesting Congress to call a national convention to propose amendments
- •An amendment can be ratified by favorable vote in 3/4 of all state legislatures
Congress retains several key powers vis-a-vis the president
- –funding powers
Congressional Oversight of the Executive Branch
- •Congress has power to review actions of Executive Branch
- •Important to ensure that bureaucracy is enforcing and interpreting laws the way Congress intended
How does the Constitution divided foreign policy powers between the president and Congress?
PRESIDENT can wage war and negotiate treaties whereas CONGRESS declares war and SENATE ratifies treaties
In 1973, Congress passed the War Powers Act, which was...
requiring president to get congressional approval before sending troops abroad
to notify Congress within 48 hours of any foreign troop deployment
AND must withdraw troops within 60 days unless Congress declares war
Was the War Powers Act from Congress effective? Why or Why not?
No, unconstitutional and impractical
Believe that it restricts authority granted by Constitution to President as Commander in Chief
- –Selected by majority party
- –Presides in lieu of vice president
- –3rd in line of presidential succession
- –Usually senior senator of majority party
- -True leader is majority leader, not as powerful as Speaker of House
Majority and Minority Whips
–Mainly responsible for counting heads and rounding-up party members for votes
Impeachment and Removal
- •ULTIMATE congressional oversight of president and federal court judges
- •Constitution explains what constitutes impeachable offense: “bribery, treason, high crimes, and misdemeanors”
- •Rarely used; no hard & fast rules
What is redistricting?
redrawing of congressional districts to reflect changes in seats allocated to states from population shifts
done by state legislatures and always has political overtones
What are some of the important results of the 2010 census?
- -West & South continue growth pattern, more seats in Congress since 1940
- -32 states keep same number of seats
- -first time CA did not gain a seat in Congress
Demographic Makeup of Congress
- -Members tend to be better educated, richer, average age 61 (Senators) and 58 (House), with relatives
- -Congress is older, better educated, male, whiter, and richer than most of us
- -changing sexual & racial composition of Congress
What happened to many incumbents in the 2010 midterm elections?
Many retired, 9 Democrats that survived but were defeated against Republicans