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OUTLINE: GITELSON CHAPTER 10 CONGRESS (5)

 

 

 

I) Criteria for membership in: (p. 258)

            A) Congress (p. 258)

                        1) Age = 30+ (p. 258)

                        2) Citizen for at least 9 years. (p. 258)

                        3) Be in state of election, and district. (p. 258)

            B) House of Representatives (p. 258)

                        1) Age = 25+ (p. 258)

                        2) 7 year citizenship. (p. 258)

                        3) Resident of state elected. (p. 258)

 

 

II) Typical Congress member: (p. 259)

A) Middle age, white male, previously employed in high status job, highly educated. (p. 259)

            B) Education: college. Majority have graduate/professional work. (p. 259)

            C) Law, business, banking = common profession. (p. 259)

 

 

III) Getting elected (p. 260)

            A)  Incumbents did well in 1994. (p. 260)

            B)  While incumbents do well, many members choose not to run for re-election. (p 261)

            C)  House seats re-distributed every 10 years due to census. (p. 261)

D)  Gerrymandering: drawing district boundaries that help gain political advantage = increases likelihood

     of winning many seats. Unconstitutional if boundaries are around minority causing them to be political

     majority, due to race as main factor. (p. 261)

            E)  Gerrymandering doesn’t always equal success in re-election. (p. 261)

            F)  Well known candidates are viewed favorably, more than their less known opponents. (p. 261)

G)  Franking privilege (p 262): Congress can send out mail to advertise themselves, free of

      charge.

H)  "Credit claiming": credit taken for benefit voters receive from national government,

      Saying he was one responsible for progress achieved. (p. 262)

I)    Pork-barrel legislation (p. 262): allowing funds to go to projects in Congress member's area.

J)   Home style: the way Congress presents self to voter to earn voter's trust. (p. 262)

K)  Term limits passed by states, but then declared unconstitutional later because it needed

      to amend Constitution. (p. 262)

 

 

IV) Work of Congress (p. 264)

            A) Makes laws: (p. 264)

a) Enumerated powers: are specific powers given to Congress by Constitution. In addition, Constitution also has 

    a "necessary/proper clause".

b) Necessary/proper clause (p. 39): The powers given by this clause are not stated in Constitution, but are 

    implied given powers. The clause allows Congress the power to make laws to help them carry out tasks that  

    ARE given by the Constitution.

B) Taxing power: (p. 264)

a) Tax bills originate in House, but may be amended in Senate. (p. 264)

b) Tax Reform Act: reduced tax of individuals. (p. 265)

C) Produce Budget: to attempt to centralize budget, restrain overall spending. (p. 265)                              

a) Control Act: created new budget committee in each house by Congressional 

    Budget Office (CBO) -> meaning Congress has expertise equal to Executive. 

    Job of CBO: analyzes president budget and spending levels.                                                 

-CBO gave entitlements: payments automatically go to person of local government

 that meet requirement stated by law (For example: Social Security benefits, pensions).

b) First Concurrent Budget Resolution: spending ceilings/limits in each major category. (p. 265)

  Committees send info to House and Senate, which must pass them both. (p. 265)

                        c) Committees must follow spending guidelines set by budget resolution. (p. 265)

            d) Reconciliation (p. 265): If SPENDING anticipation/guidelines exceeds budget, then it means -->

                        1) Appropriations/budget must be reduced. (p. 265)

2) House AND Congress agree to raise budget/allowance by amending original.  

    By reconciliation process, the amending of the original budget must be done by the time second

    budget resolution is passed. This did not help reduce budget deficit. (p. 266)

3) Passage of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law: set series of deficit reducing targets to force

    Congress to do something to reduce deficit. This law gave Congress the threat of sequestration,

    which was a threat to withhold funds. (p. 266)

4) Sequestration was avoided by passage of Budget Enforcement Act: gave more 

    flexible deficit targets. Act divides targets in 3 types (defense, domestic,

    international), allowing one type to cap the spending of the others. (p. 266)

D) Casework (p. 267): Congress members expected to help fellow citizens through federal programs.

     Helping them through personal services (such as helping citizen through a problem of getting a social security

     check etc.) Congress members complain that doing casework decreases time in making policies.

E) Congressional oversight: responsible for overseeing activities of executive agencies  

     that are supposed to be implementing the policies. Bring a weakness to the attention

     of the Congress member. Let them know their work is being watched, critiqued.

     Investigate/ compel testimony if needed. (p. 267)

F)  Legislative veto (p. 268): Congress or its committee vetoes president or executive agency's 

     actions covered by bill. Executive can make specific policies but they have to be

     approved by Congress. Was declared unconstitutional, but this veto is still currently used.

 

 

 

Table: Powers Of Congress

 

US House of Representatives

US Senate

1)       Starts tax bills.

2)       Starts initiating spending bills.

3)       Impeaches President, federal judges, justices.

1)       Confirms appointment of President.

2)       Ratifies treaties.

3)       Holds trial for people impeached.

Both Acting Together:

1)       Pass bills.

2)       Declare war.

3)       Makes amendments.

      4)   Does caseworks.

 

 

 

V) Organization of Congress (p. 269)

A) Bicameral: 2 separate houses with near equal power. Divides power, balances states. (p. 268-269)

                        a) Created to represent different elements in American society. (p. 269)

1) Representatives: represent public opinion via many, popular elections. (p. 269)

2) Senate curbs radical tendencies, cools down place. Chosen by

    electorate. (p. 269)

 

 

 

TABLE 2: UNITED STATES CONGRESS

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Senate

 

Term: 2 years

Serves: Congressional district (CD)

 

 

 Term: 6 years

 Serves: state

 

 

B) Congressional leadership: party leadership, parties that organize Congress. (p. 270)

                        a) Speaker of House: Most powerful in Congress, the HIGHEST leader. (p. 270)

                                    1) Only house position created by Constitution. (p. 270)

                                    2) Leader of majority party (chosen by their vote). (p. 270)

                                    3) Presides over house. (p. 270)

                                    4) Second in line to President. (p. 270)

                        b) Majority leader: Second ranking party position. First ranking in Senate. (p 271)

                                    1) Schedules floor actions on bills, chairs committees. (p. 271)

                                    2) Guides party legislative program through House. (p. 271)

                                    3) Succeeds speaker. (p. 271)

c) Minority leader: head of Senate's minority party. Opposite of majority party. (p. 271)

d) Party whips: helps majority/minority leaders. Communicates information to party. Keeps

    leaders informed of member views. (p. 271)

e) Senate leadership: Vice-President. President of senate as stated in Constitution. Ceremonial: votes only to   

    break a tie. (p. 271)

            C) Committee system: Bills recommended for action are referred as the “congressional agenda”.  (p. 271)

a) Types of committees (p. 272):

1) Standing committees: MOST important. Permanent. Considers

    legislation in specific areas and decides whether they should be

    recommended to pass to larger body. Nearly all legislation is sent here.

    Used to have subcommittees. (p. 272)

2) Select/special(ad hoc) committees: temporary. Created by House or Senate to

    study specific problems. (p. 272)

3) Joint committees: 4 committees. Congressional. Equal number of members

    from each house. (p. 272)

4) Conference committees: temporary joint. To reconcile differences

    between House and Senate bills. "3rd house of Congress". Shapes

    legislation because bills must be passed by both houses. (p. 272)

                        b) Size/Membership: (p. 272)

                                    1) Can be adjusted from session to session. (p. 272)

2) Majority-minority ratio causes more trouble. Number reflects strength of each

    party. (p. 272)

c) Committee leadership: (p. 274)

1) Parties organize Congress, chairs always members of majority. (p. 274)

2) Seniority rule: member of majority party who served the longest, uncut

    time in office is the chair. (p. 274)

            D) Nonofficial groups: (p. 274-275)

a) Democratic Study Group (DSG): helped enhance power of Democratic

    officials. (p. 274)

b) Used to compensate for fragmentation of Congress produced by committee system, but

    made things worse by: increasing House decentralization and single issue politics importance. (p. 274)

                        c) Caucuses (are meetings) that work on policy questions, gather resources. (p. 275)

            E) Congressional staff: 11000+ people: Does casework, legislative work as well.

     Further decentralizes government. (p. 275)

 

 

VI) How a Bill Becomes Law (p. 276-277)

A) Member of Congress introduces legislation/law. (Office to Legislative Counsel of each

     House helps draft it.) Bills may be drafted by other means. (p. 276-277)

                        a) Proposal dropped in "hopper" box. (p. 276-277)

                        b) Senators hand them to clerk to publish in Congressional record. (p. 276-277)

                        c) Bill numbered by introduction. (p. 276-277)

                        d) Sent to government printing office. (p. 276-277)

                                    1) HR=House introduced it. (p. 276-277)

                                    2) S=Senate. (p. 276-277)

            B) Committee considers it after is referred. (p. 278)

a) Committees other than the one concerning bill may be chosen to look over it. (p. 278)

                        b) Subcommittee has jurisdiction over bill. (p. 278)

                        c) If hearings decided, testifying allowed. (p. 278)

d) Markup session: subcommittee votes to amend bill and settles on its precise 

    language. Committee may make new version of it. If bill reported, its approved,

    placed on calendar =  whole body(House/Senate) will then consider it. (p. 278)

            C) Floor action: (p. 278-279)

1) House: Rules Committee determines the schedule of when controversial bills

    are to be debated. (Controversial bills are bills that are not unanimous, or will

    spend public funds). Rules Committee action must be in a resolution approved

    on House floor before bill consideration. (p. 278-279)

a) Democratic-sponsored rule: House votes on individual spending cuts

    separately. Republicans thought that separating popular social 

    programs would prevent it from being voted off. (p. 278-279)

                                    b) Debate time: 1-10 hours depending on complexity. (p. 278-279)

2) Senate: Has smaller, more casual procedures. If bill scheduled, it comes off and

     talked about. Unlimited debate. (p. 278-279)

a) Filibuster (p. 279): prolonged debate designed to kill bill by preventing a vote to

    happen. Filibuster can be busted by ->

b) Cloture: rule to end the senate debate by: vote of at >60 senators. (p. 279)

            D) Conference work: Bill sent to president after passed by both houses. If last house makes little

                changes, bill goes to original house for approval. Big changes/alterations = committee conference

                to go over bill. If agreement not reached, bill dies. Bill is accepted more often than not. (p. 279-280)