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PSC 1002 Introduction to American Politics Week 6 Notes & Readings

by: Caroline Jok

PSC 1002 Introduction to American Politics Week 6 Notes & Readings PSC 1002

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PSC 1002 Political Science Dr. John Sides Elliot 213 Introduction to American Politics The George Washington University In-Class Notes, & Notes on Assigned Readings
Intro to American Politics and Government
John Sides
Class Notes
Congress, american politics, political science, Assigned Readings, gwu, George Washington University, Politics, legislative branch
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Date Created: 02/21/16
WEEK 6 NOTES Introduction to American Politics Professor John Sides PSC 1002 Caroline E. Jok The George Washington University Class 1. Congress is the most important branch. 2. It's different than most other democracies do government Parliament which selects • • Prime minister (rep of majority party) • Not the same separation of legislation and executive • Policy Agenda is unlikely to change unless the Majority party loses power Congress: • Legislative • Investigative (executive branch answers to congress) • House o Power to generate spending measures • Senate o Power to ratify treaties o Confirm presidential appointees • Necessary and Proper clause (elastic) • Why does/doesn't congress work? o Electoral Connection: congress is organized to promote the reelec tion of its members • Goals in terms of policy, personal power, congresses power, institutional power etc. • Collective Action problem o Need to establish some degree of organization • Old congress: o Early on, congress was "amateur" organization, it wasn't a full time job New Congress: • o Reelection is the goal • Campaign doesn't end • Electoral connection • Representing constituents well • How is congress organized so that the members can seek reelection successfully o How do they do this IN congress • Credit Claiming § You want your constituents to believe you were responsible for something that happened § Work so that federal spending benefits their state or district § Case work: Constituency service, security check, specific requests… § Log rolling • Position taking § Making a public s tatement of an issue of interest § Communication staff (Facebook/twitter etc.) • Advertising § Disseminating your name § Promote favorable image § Members of congress spend a lot of time in their districts § Budget for mail and travel o Advantages of incumbents • Better known • Challengers are usually fairly unfamiliar • Networks/funds that have built up o Challenges: • People are increasingly partisan when voting. § Formerly Split ticket voting was big • Being a successful incumbent requires that you satisfies these extremes • Shifting things away from your party may cause them to lose even if they did what is called for in the political climate • Political Climate • Gerrymandering: districts drawn to achieve partisan goals. • Scandals • How do you enhance the policy making capacity of congress? o Committees: serve the purpose of distributing benefits & Efficiency & provide good info on policy (Specialization) • Almost all legislation flows through this system. • Fixed Jurisdiction § Authority over different policy areas • Membership is fairly s table Reading Notes ~ Logic Ch. 6 Key Terms: Ad Hoc committees: congressional committee appointed for limited time to design and report a specific piece of legislation Case work: activity undertaken by members of congress and their staffs to solve constituents' problems with government agencies Closed rule: order from the House Rules Committee limiting floor debate on a particular bill and disallowing or limiting amendment. Cloture: parliamentary procedure used to close debate, Cloture is used in the Senate to cut off filibusters. Under the current Senate rules, three -fifths of senators, or sixty, must vote for cloture to halt a filibuster. Conditional party government: degree of authority delegated to and exercised by congressional leaders; varies with and is conditioned by the extent of election -driven ideological consensus among members Conference committees: temporary joint committee of the House and Senate appointed to reconcile the differences between the two chambers on a particular piece of legislation. Discharge petition: petition that removes a measure from a committee to which it has been referred in order to make it available for floor consideration. In the House a discha rge petition must be signed by a majority of House members (218) Entitlements: benefit that every eligible person has a legal right to receive and that cannot be taken away without a change in legislation or due process in court. Filibuster: tactic used in the Senate to halt action on a bill. It involves making long speeches until the majority retreats. Senators, once holding the floor, have unlimited time to speak unless a cloture vote is passed by three-fifths (60) of the members. Gerrymandering: drawing legislative districts in such a way as to give one political party a disproportionately large share of seats for the share of votes its candidates win. Joint committees: Permanent congressional committees made up of members of both the House and Senate. Joint committees do not have any legislative authority; they monitor specific activities and compile reports. Majority leader: formal leader of the party controlling a majority of the seats in the House or the Senate. In the Senate the majority leader is the head of the majority party. In the House the majority leader ranks second in the party hierarchy behind the Speaker. Majority whip: purpose is to help solve the party's coordination problems Multiple referrals: act of sending a proposed piece of le gislation to more than one committee in the same chamber. Necessary and proper clause: last clause of Article I, Section 8, of the constitution. Grants congress authority to make all laws that are "necessary and proper" and to execute those laws. Open rule: provision governing debate of pending bill and permitting any germane amendment to be offered on the floor of the House. Pocket veto: method by which the president vetoes a bill passed by both houses of Congress by failing to act on it within ten days of Congress's adjournment. Political action committees: federally registered fundraising group that pools money from individuals to give to political candidates and parties. Pork barrel legislation: legislation that provides members of Congress with fed eral projects and programs for their individual districts. President pro tempore: in the absence of the vice president, the formal presiding officer of the Senate. The honor is usually conferred on the senior member of the majority party, but the post is sometimes rotated among senators of the majority party. Proportional representation: electoral system in which legislative seats are awarded to candidates or parties in proportion to the percentage of votes received. Quorum: minimum number of congression al members who must be present for the transaction of business. Under the Constitution, a quorum in each house is a majority of its members (218 House; 51 in the Senate) Restricted rule: provision that governs consideration of a bill and that specifies an d limits the kinds of amendments that may be made on the floor of the House of Representatives. Riders roll-call vote: vote taken by a call of the roll to determine whether a quorum is present, to establish a quorum or to vote on a question. Usually the H ouse uses its electronic voting system for a roll call, but when the system is malfunctioning the Speaker directs the clerk to read the names. The senate does not have an electronic voting system; its roll is always called by a clerk. Rules: provision that governs consideration of a bill by the House of Representatives by specifying how the bill is to be debated and amended. Select committees: temporary legislative committee created for a specific purpose and dissolved after its tasks are completed. Seniority rule: congressional practice of appointing as committee or subcommittee chairs the members of the majority with the most years of committee service. Speaker of the house: presiding officer of the House of Representatives. The Speaker is elected at the beginning of each congressional session on a party --line vote. As head of the majority party the Speaker has substantial control over the legislative agenda of the House. Special committees: temporary legislative committee usually lacking legislative authority Standing committees: permanent legislative committee specializing in a particular legislative area. Standing committees have stable memberships and stable jurisdictions. Ticket-splitting: act of voting for candidates from different p olitical parties for different offices Unanimous consent: unanimous resolution in the Senate restricting debate and limiting amendments to bills on the floor. ---- Congress Predicament: • Growing polarization of congressional parties • Widening partisan dive rgence of their respective electoral bases in districts and states • Huge budget deficits produced by prior tax cuts • Recession • Feeble economic growth • Expanding population of retirees drawing on Medicare and Social Security programs • Divided party control of federal government Budget crisis: • The House and Senate are the main bodies of making legislation • Congressional parties have become highly polarized along ideological lines - difficult to resolve conflicts and make coherent policy when neither party has f ull control of the House, Senate and the White House. • Electoral politics influences almost everything members of congress do • Majority party sometimes dominates the action in the House but less so in the Senate; the degree to which leaders exercise control depend on how unified the parties are internal. • It is always easier to stop things from happening than to make things happen. Congress in the Constitution • Great Compromise: o Bicameralism o House • Short tenure = keep the House as close as possible • Citizen for 7 years • Minimum 25 years old o Senate • Insulated from transient shifts in the public mood • More mature • 30 year minimum age • 9 year citizen • Incorporated remnants of state sovereignty into the new national government • 6 year term § One third of the Senate's mem bership stand for election every two years. o Both live in the districts they serve Powers of Congress • Congress has broad power of economic matters o Coin, taxes, borrow money, regulate interstate and foreign commerce, spend money for the common defense and general welfare • Necessary and proper clause = elastic clause • Congress has power over foreign affairs o Declare war o Raise/finance military o Call out state militias • Senate is an advisory council to the executive • Distribution of power = balance of authority o Raise and spend money o Bills raising revenue (House); Senate - unrestricted right to amend them o Balance: • President may recommend new laws, call congress into special session Electoral System • President is elected separately • Members of Congress are elected fro m states/congressional districts by plurality vote (whoever gets the most votes wins) • Proportional representation: gives a party a share of seats in the legislature matching the share of the votes it wins on Election day - voters choose among parties, not individual candidates --> party leaders are very powerful Congressional Districts • Changes in the sizes of state delegations to the House since World War II illustrate the population movements in the US • 1964: Wesberry v. Sanders: Districts must have equal populations • 1986: Thornburg v. Gingles: district lines may not dilute minority representation • States can draw districts as they please • Concentrating the opposition party's voters in a small number of districts that th e party wins by large margins, creating as many districts as possible where one's own party has a secure majority -- > gerrymandering. • 1986: Davis v. Bandemer: gerrymandering would be unconstitutional if it were too strongly biased against a party's candidates Unequal representation in the Senate • States can't change boundaries • 9 largest states are home to 51 percent of the population • Smallest 26 states hold 52 percent of the seats for only 18 percent of the population • 17th amendment: provides for popular election Congress and Electoral Politics • Electoral imperatives shape all important aspects of congressional life. Candidate-Centered versus Party -Centered Electoral Politics • Post WW2 era of democratic majorities --> candidate-centered pattern of electoral politics • Political action committees - organizations that raise and distribute money for campaigns • Congressional candidates run under party labels for national offices but most campaigns are personal and centered on local interests and values • Party line voting was far more common in the 19th century o Congressional candidates fates were decided by national trends • Ticket splitting: voting different parties for different offices o Blurring between party lines, decline in voter loyalty. Advantages of Incumbency • Decline in party loyalty offers incumbents to win votes they couldn't have previously counted on. • Incumbency = personal loyalties vs. party loyalties • Incumbent reelection rates have skyrocketed. • Changing ability of congressional candidates to win against partisan grain. • Incumbency advantage is not automatic • Constituent Service o Decisions on legislative issues are shaped by the potential need to explain and defend them in future campaigns o Casework: requests from constituents for information and help in dealing with government agencies. • Vulnerable Senators o Senators have not been as successful in keeping their jobs, unlike representatives o Senators face reelections 1/3 as often - tenure offices even out o Why? • States are more populous and diverse th an congressional districts --> senators are unable to develop personal ties to constituents • States are more likely than congressional districts to have balanced party competition • Senate races attract a larger proportion of experienced, politically talented , well- financed challengers • States fit media markets • Senators are more readily associated with controversial and divisive issues National Politics in Congressional Elections • Recent resurgence of party -centered campaigning; strengthened the national component of congressional election politics • Midterm elections: president's party almost always loses congressional seats. Size of loss depends on performance of national economy • Congressional elections reflect national approval Representation versus Res ponsibility • Party centered electoral process: Legislators represent citizens by carrying out the policies promised by the parties • Candidate centered electoral process: individually responsive than collectively responsive • Benefits come at the expense of gen eral revenues: money supplied by the taxes that everyone pays o Logrolling: members of congress offer reciprocal support to each other's vote gaining projects or tax breaks o Prisoner's dilemma: when everyone follows an individually productive strategy, all ma y end up in worse shape politically when shackled with collective blame for the overall consequence. o Same logic that encourages logrolling makes members of Congress hesitate to impose direct costs on identifiable groups to produce greater, but more diffus e, benefits for all citizens • Delegate authority to bureaucratic agencies or state governments • Legislative leaders to frame the lawmaker's choice in a way that highlights credit for the general benefits while minimizing individual responsibility for the spe cific costs. o Make electoral payoffs from disregarding special interests to benefit a broader public outweigh the costs. • The issue needs to be important to many voters • Challenge: frame the decision on an issue in a way that forces members to put themselves on the record • Leaders may have to buy off the most powerful potential opponents with special concessions or side deals Who Serves in Congress? • Not truly representative of the people • Women and racial minorities are underrepresented • 1982 voting rights act: interpreted to require states to maximize the number of majority -minority districts when drawing new district lines The Basic Problems of Legislative Organization • Congress= become highly complex institutions with elaborate and arcane rules, procedures and customs • What do representatives and senators want to accomplish? • Problems to be solved: o How to acquire information o Coordinate action o Resolve conflicts o Get members to work for common as well as personal goals. • Congress falls into two classes: o Problems bestting the House and Senate as organizations o Problems arising from the competing individual and collective needs of members. The Need for Information • Legislation is only as effective as the quality of knowledge underlying its inception • Congress responded: o division of labor • Rise to the committee and subcommittee system • Large personal and committee staffs • Specialized research agencies o Specialization • Lots of time and effort • Efficiencies gained by a division of labor are paid for by dimini shed participation in policy making Coordination Problems • Coordination becomes more difficult the greater the group's work -load and more elaborate the division of labor. • Members sacrifice a measure of their autonomy in return for the gains of efficiencythat come from delegating agenda control to party leaders. Resolving Conflicts • Legislation is not passed until majorities in both houses agree • Pluralism of American society • Agreement requires getting people pursing divergent, plans to take a common course of action. • When representatives speak on the floor of the House, all remarks officially address the speaker to make it less likely that debates will become political confrontations • Ready made coalitions resolve many conflicts in advance o Reduces the transaction costs of negotiating agreements o Loss of autonomy to the party and of authority to leaders • Individual members incur greater conformity costs because they cannot always do what is politically best for themselves rather than their party. Collective Action • Everyone wants to have a stake in party reputation, but members want to pursue individual goals - winning reelection/advancing (tax breaks…) o May undermine reputation of their party • Congress respond: developing devices such as the committee sy stem that give members individual incentives to work for collectively beneficial ends Transaction Costs • Price of doing politics • Fixed rules to automate decisions o Seniority rule: first choice in committee chairs, offices and committee assignments to majority party members who have served the longest Time Pressures • Pressure to avoid unnecessary transaction costs (intensified by the ticking clock) • Source of Congress's authority: power of the money • House experiences organizational problems more acutely than the Senate • Senators get away with looser organization and retain more individual autonomy Organizing Congress The Parties: • Majorities enact bills but also set rules, establish procedures, choose leaders and decide how to organize their respective houses. • Parties are formed when people recognize it is in their best interests to cooperate despite their disagreements • Assembled and maintained by party leaders • Development of Congressional Parties o Hamilton's Federalists o Jefferson's Republicans o When the House an d Senate divided into parties; congressional and party leadership merged o Speaker of the House: elected by the majority • Given the authority to appoint committees, make rules, manage the legislative process • Speaker of the House o Centralized authority o Career-oriented membership makes a more decentralized and impersonalized leadership structure o Weakening the Speaker, House members in effect chose to tolerate higher transaction costs to reduce their conformity costs o Voting rights act of 1965: brought black vote rs into southern democratic elections o Limiting committee chairs to three two year terms o The remainder of this chapter is a history of the most recent and prominent speakers. • Congress is subject to conditional party government: degree of authoridelegated to and exercised by congressional party is conditioned by the extent of election driven ideological consensus among members Increased Partisanship • Party unity votes; those on which the party majorities took opposite positions • Party coalitions have become more homogenous • As congressional parties become more unified they become more polarized along ideological lines • Unites parties internally, but separates them externally, strengthens party leaders • Party Organization: o Majority party in the House: the Speaker of the House • Majority leader: chief assistant • Majority whip o Rules committee: instrument of the majority party o Leaders control the legislative agenda o Party leaders can help with reelection campaigns o When party balance is close, minority leaders can influence legislation by forming alliances with more moderate members of the majority party o Majority has a wider margin: minority leaders choose between • Cooperating with majority (influence with little credit) • Opposing and attacking (position their party for future electoral battles) • Gingrich: Harsh partisan confrontation • Parties and Party leaders in the Senate: o senate ahs been slower than House to develop formal leadership positions o Senators saw themselves as ambassadors from sovereign states o Vice president: presiding officer of the Senate o President Pro tempore: presides when the vice president is absent o Minority party has greater influence in the Senate • Unanimous consent agreement negotiated by party leaders • The capacity of party leaders to le ad depends on the willingness of party members to follow • Other Groups in Congress o Other factions form: study committees, ideological committees, demographics, shared regional interests o Better access to information and allies that do not fit into regular pa rty/committee categories Committee Systems • Committees are ultimately subject to majority party • House committees are more powerful than their counterparts in the Senate • Evolution of Congressional Committees o Used to go line by line for legislation o Committees, now appointed rather than elected o Became partisan affairs o Rewards for party loyalty o Standing committees began to develop (exist until they were disbanded) o Seniority became a criteria o Reducing transaction and conformity costs: • Alternatives: § Divisive, time consuming intra party fights § Appointment by party leaders (too much power) • Types of Committees o Standing Committees: Fixed jurisdiction (same legislative topics); Stable membership o Party ratios of committees generally match party ratios in the House and Senate o Job security: associated gives motives and opportunity to become knowledgeable about policy issues o Senate Foreign Relations o Judiciary Committees • Special authority over treaties and diplomatic and judicial appointments o Rules committee: control th e flow of legislation • Committee Assignments o Made by party committees under the control of senior party leaders, ratified by party membership o Pursue committee assignments that allow them to serve special constituent interests and their own policy and power goals o Party leaders want to keep their followers in office o Dangers: committees may be stacked with members whose views don't represent those of their party o Most committees have subcommittees o Also: special, select, joint ad hoc, conference committees o Special committees & select committees - deal with specific problems and then disappear • Joint Committees o Permanent committees composed of members from both chambers o Leadership rotates o Joint committees: gather information and oversee executive agencies, but don't report legislation o Ad hoc committees: handle bills that are sensitive (pay raise legislation) o Conference committees appointed to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills • Committee Power o Former: House committees dominate d by the Speaker: appointed committee members and chairs o Revolt against Speaker Cannon 1910: transferred control over committees to committee chairs o Forbidden that any individual chairs more than one committee or subcommittee o Changes produced a more fragme nted and decentralized committee system • Jurisdiction o Who deals with what? o Legislative turf o Constant pressure to multiply standing committees and subcommittees arise out of increasing complexity, volume, and scope of legislative business and members' des ires to serve as chairs o Redistributes power when committees change and jurisdiction changes o Problem of multiple jurisdictions can be addressed by using multiple referrals: bills to several committees at the same time or in sequence • Money Committees o Originally handled with the Ways and Means in the House and Finance in the Senate o Later transferred to the Appropriations Committee o Then spread across 20 committees o Devolution of authority o Entitlements: designate specific classes of people who are entitled to a legally defined benefit: • Social security • Medicare • Military • Budget Reform o Committee reforms weakened committee leaders o Congressional openness - doing business in public o Nixon impounded appropriations in the 70s o Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 • Subjected presidential impoundment authority to strict congressional control o Inefficiencies and deficiencies in congress have led to budget deficits that can't be controlled o Economic crash o Partisan politics are dominating budget processes • Congressional Staff and Support Groups o Congress has expanded staff in response to growing workload o Support groups and special interest groups to investigate and organize hearings Making Laws Introducing Legislation • Only members may submit legislation to the House or sena te • Require a sponsor • Personal credit for what an entire congress did is valuable Assignment to Committee • After a bill is introduced, it is assigned a number, and referred to a committee • Most bills die of neglect • Some are introduced by request • Committee leaders avoid situations in which their party colleagues might have to cast embarrassing votes. Hearings • Hearings: interested people from executive agencies/interest groups/academia can testify in person or in writing • Can be for or against a bill • Congress is often criticized for not carrying out its duty to oversee the administration of laws Reporting a Bill • A subcommittee can choose to act on a bill and edit it line by line, before presenting it on a committees • If amendments, compromises and deals can b uild a strong committee coalition for a bill its chances on the floor are good Scheduling Debate • Committee agrees to report a bill to the floor • Noncontroversial bills may be passed without debate • Controversial bills are placed on the Union calendar/house calendar • Open rule: may permit amendments from the floor • Restricted rules: only certain amendments • Closed rule: no amendments • Rule may also specify the order in which amendments are considered (stacks the decks in favor of particular outcomes) • Closed rules: help solve prisoner's dilemmas • Discharge petition: brings a bill directly to the floor without committee approval • Cloture: allows a maximum of thirty additional hours of debate on a bill before a vote must be taken Debate and Amendment • House: time for debate is divided equally between proponents and opponents of a bill. • If amendments to a bill are allowed under the rule, they must be germane to the purpose of the bill • Extraneous proposals: riders - not allowed • Quorum: number of members who must be present for the House to act officially • Floor debates rarely work • Floor action works better in the senate The Vote • Fate of legislation is often decided by a series of votes • How to decide how to vote? o Their own views o Opinions of constituents o Advice o Public communication • Explainable vote: one that can be defended publicly if it is brought up by a challenger in some future campaign • Most people don't pay attention to congress • Intense minorities often prevail over apathetic majorities • President can veto, but it causes issues • Unrecorded voice votes may be cast • Roll call vote can be requested by at least 20 members • House uses a machine • Senate uses voices In conference: • Once passed a bill is sent to the other chamber for consideration • If passed then, it is sent to the president • Sometimes bills pass in two different forms o Goes back and forth • Conference committees are supposed to reconcile differences in two versions of a bill without adding to or subtracting from the legislation • Conference report is privileged: can be considered on the floor at any time without going through the usual scheduling process To the President • President can either sign the bill, veto or ignore the bill • Congressional override of presidential veto requires 2/3 vote in each ch amber • President usually has support from their own party in at least one chamber to sustain a veto • Veto is a major weapon Bias against action • Easier to kill a bill than to pass one • High transaction costs • Strong bias in favor of the status quo • Unorthodox lawmaking: o Party divisions intensify: minority obstruction has become more common over the past 3 decades o Majority party leaders have unorthodox procedures to enact legislation o Senate: • Minority party: uses filibuster • Leaders respond with proce dural strategies designed to minimize damage. o Unorthodox lawmaking requires a heavy investment of leaders resources reflection high transaction costs o Impact of legislation depends on how it is implemented by administrators and interpreted by the courts Evaluating Congress • Most incumbents win reelection even when the public doesn't like them • Public's disdain for congress reflects the low repute garnered by politicians as a class • Habitual contempt for politician is normal • Compromise doesn't satisfy everyone • Stalemate is scorned even more • Congress's poor reputation arises from the nature of pluralism o Pluralist politics: adamant minorities frequently defeat apathetic majorities because minorities invest more of their political resources • Special interests often win out over general interests • Recurrent ethics scandals • Approval of congress does vary in response to how it seems to be doing its job • Public prefers bipartisan agreement to partisan bickering • Evaluations of congress became drama tically more positive in the wake of al-Qaeda attacks on the United States • Unification and nationalism • Some would say the U.S. congress is the most powerful and independent legislature in the world • Constitution grants the house and senate extensive legisla tive powers and provides the basis for electoral independence from the executive Reading Notes ~ Smith (6 -1) Congress, The Troubled Institution • Slowness and categorized by its polarization • Most powerful national legislature in the world • Independent of the chief executive • broad jurisdiction • Elected independently of the executive • The other two branches can't spend money without its approval • President needs approval of the senate to appoint executive officials and judges • Powers to investigate the executive branch • Yet: Sever disadvantage in its relationship: o Does not speak with one voice o Can't move quickly o Permeable to outside influence o Not led by a single leader o Large, publicized, constantly under criticism requires outside funding for elections A polarized Congress: • Partisan tone (republicans are moving more to the right, democrats are moving more to the left) • Why? o Social upheaval in the 60s and 70s • Civil rights movement • Women's movement • Vietnam war • Youth culture • Roe v. Wade o Realignment of politi cal values o South: many conservative democrats were replaced by republicans o Parties became more cohesive, leadership could become more assertive, pressure increases o Extinction of conservative democrats and liberal republicans. o The State lines never changed for the senate, but they faced the same polarization Legislative Pathologies in Congress Consequences: • o House: streamlined centralized process that often excludes the minority party; The minority is severely limited • Speaker (majority party) can freely recognize members to make motions on the floor • Committee on Rules can report resolutions that can bring bills and conference reports and limit debate *cohesive majority can get special rules adopted • Speaker appoints conference co mmittees & structure the membership to suit his parties needs. o Senate: delay and inaction, blame games • Majority party's leader does not preside and instead attempts to move the Senate by making motions from the floor • Motions can be filibustered - minority takes advantage of that • Overcoming a filibuster 3/5 cloture required • 2/3 majority of senator voting is required to invoke cloture on legislation that changes rules - so the rules don't change. • Sizable minority can block the majority party • Delay or kill a legislation o Minority obstruction has become the norm • Partisan Polarization and filibustering o Obstruction is more successful when the minority party is united o Majority party leader attempts cloture more frequently o In response to obstructions: the process of nominations has changed: only a simple majority for cloture on all nominations except for those of the supreme court o Conference committees have fallen into disuse • Comprise legislation with majority support of conferences from each house, but the re is no like minded majority • Ignoring minority members Aggressive Presidents and a Weakened Congress • Challenging the power of congress o Crisis of terrorism, war and economy o Theory of the unitary executive: • General theory of presidential power • President can control the actions of all executive branch agencies • Emergencies and National Security § President gets broader powers § National interest requires quick action and flexibility § President has the advantage of public relations § *In a congress highly polarized by party, the tendency to grant unfettered power to the executive is greater when the same party controls the house of Congress and the White House § Control of the national Security agency § Under bush, information was denied to congress § Obama used executive power to end wars • Bush theory of a Unitary Executive § The president has direct authority over all parts of the executive branch § Obama didn't endorse unitary executive perspective, interpreted his inherent and implicit powers under the constitution broadly • Emergencies and the Economy § Sweeping authority to the president under economic collapse § Congressional Oversight panel created for the treasury • The Continuing Battle Over Appointments § Normally: President makes the appointments on his own when Congress in recess, the Republican controlled House refused to allow the senate to recess therefore the president couldn't make recess appointments § In 2012 Obama decided to ignore the Senate and was backed from his Justice Department Unpopular congress • Congress's performance ratings are almost always below the president's and the Supreme Court's • Members of congress often appear self -serving • American public dislikes intense partisan ship • Public relations make matters worse • Whereas the supreme court is rarely observed b y the general public and the president is represented by a single large professional public relations committee • Congressional campaigns have become personal Directions for Reform • The burden is on American voters to elect more moderate candidates who will demand less partisan behavior • Having fewer conflicts between the floor and committee sessions • More 5-day weeks • Congress has engaged in a part -time schedule, perhaps this should change • Majority party needs to protect the minority party's ability to participate in policy making. • Use standing committees whenever possible • ask legislators to set aside their real differences to reduce partisanship and find a way to compromise • Senate: filibuster reform Reading Notes ~ Binder (6 -2) The Politics of Legislative Stalemate • The debate: o Mayhew: our political system is self -correcting o Mann and Ornstein: Republican Party has forced legislative machinery off the rails. • Recent congressional dead lock may be different in degree but not necessarily in kind • Increase in the frequency of legislative deadlock Setting the Scene • Is the partisan polarization to blame? • It's been done before with partisan division • How well do journalist descriptions capture congress's legislative performance o Counting the number of the accomplishments • How well do our models of legislative gridlock perform? Landscape of Congressional Deadlock • How to measure progress and impact of div ided party control on the production of landmark laws: o Were many important laws passed • Did the presence of divided government reduce the number of major laws enacted in each congress • Null result for the impact of divided government on lawmaking • It matters little whether a single party controls both the white house and congress • Influence on congress: o Legislators electoral incentives o Shifting public moods o Presidential cycles o Issue coalitions that cut across the left0right divide • Measurement strategy produ ced a denominator of every major legislative issue raised by elite observers of Capitol Hill • Numerator; captured congress's record in acting on those issues • Slight increase in the size of agenda recently • Failure to address issues means they pile up Four features of the time series: • o Frequency of deadlock shows secular increase over time o The claims about the 112th congress are true o 111th congress was very productive o 107th congress - post attacks on September 11th very productive Explaining Patterns of Gridlock • How do we account for Congress's uneven legislative performance over time? • Unified party control reduced the frequency of deadlock • Party control is insufficient to explain variation in Congress's performance • Two other factors: o The smaller the ideological center the tougher the time congress has securing policy agreement • Rise of polarized parties complicates tis o Bicameral policy differences interfere with the crafting of policy coalitions • Broader conclusions o Media's focus on the impact of po larized parties on congress's ability to legislate • Strategic disagreement • When ideological and electoral incentives propel the parties to the wings, abandoning the political center, lawmakers struggle to find broadly palatable solutions to the range of problems they face o Impact of bicameral difference on the difficulty of legislating • Policy differences between the two chambers matter to Congress's ability to legislate o Effect of party control appears attenuated • Independent effect: frequency of deadlock was higher in periods of divided party control o Filibuster has undermined the legislative power of majority parties Discussion and Conclusions • Recent unbalances are not likely to be permanent systematic problems • Levels of legislative deadlock have steadil y risen over the past half century • When congress and the president muster agreement on a policy solution, such agreements may create new problems • Not clear whether current levels of polarization are going to subside anytime soon • Changes in the structure of electoral competition in recent decades likely alter lawmakers calculations about coming to the bargaining table Study Guide ~ Congress Congress • What are the main powers of Congress? • How is Congress different than many parliamentary systems? • What is gerrymandering and how does it affect the partisan and racial composition of districts? • What is the incumbency advantage? Why are incumbents re -elected at such high rates? • What are the collective action problems that shape the organization of Congr ess? • What roles do political parties play in Congress? How has their role has changed over time? How do parties help solve certain collective action problems? • What are the key characteristics of standing committees in Congress? How has their role changed over time? How might committees help solve collective action problems? • What are the major differences between the way the House and Senate operate? Why is the filibuster in the Senate so important? • You should understand the basic process by which a bill be comes a law. Why is it so hard to enact new laws? • Smith argues that party polarization has increased in the last 50 years. Why did that happen? • According to Smith, how has polarization influenced the operation of the House and Senate differently? • According to Smith, how has gridlock in Congress affected its interactions with presidents? • How does Binder measure gridlock in Congress? That is, how does she determine how much stalemate there is in Congress every year? • What explains the level of gridlock in Cong ress? In particular, Binder's discussion of the results of her analysis (pp. 157-159) is important.


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