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by: Olivia Brooksbank


Olivia Brooksbank

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All about congress! Notes from class, questions from class and notes and questions I created from the textbook as well for the best study materials. I will be making review questions and terms for ...
American History
Wendy Watson
Class Notes
political science
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Olivia Brooksbank on Tuesday February 23, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSCI 1040 at University of North Texas taught by Wendy Watson in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 120 views. For similar materials see American History in History at University of North Texas.


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Date Created: 02/23/16
Notes: Congress 2/19/16 Central Ideas: 1. The structure and function of congress embody democratic ideals 2. Bills become law through a lengthy, complex process 3. Parties and committees actually make the legislative process easier 4. Members of congress much consider multiple influences when making decisions Building Capital in the Capitol - Congress introduced to legislation authorizing the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon - This led to the House of Representatives voting on House resolution 64: This authorization was for the Use of Military Force (they were for it) - Legislature stands an important democratic check and balance - Congress was created to represent US-all of US, CITIZENS. Difference between House and Senate - Established a BICAMERAL legislature composed of TWO separate chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate - Great Compromise: large and small states represented - House: Based on POPULATION - Senate:Apportioned equally among the states - House is composed of 435 members representing an electoral district - Senate only has 100 members because there are only 2 representatives representing a large, diverse population spanning an entire state Structure: - The house has a much STRONGER party leadership structure, since large assemblies of people require strong leadership for successful accomplishment - The senate is less formal and more personal whereas the House is hierarchical, with power centralized in the party leadership Culture: - Members of the house: face reelection every 2 YEARS, must meet the needs of constituents rather directly and frequently in order to maintain their seats in Congress.. - Senate: face reelection every 6 YEARS and face less threats of electoral defeat and can approach a slow approach to legislating POWER OFTHE HOUSE: - Originate revenue bills by introducing tax legislation - Initiate impeachment proceedings (checked by the senate) POWER OFTHE SENATE: - Uniquely retains the power to approve major presidential appointments and to ratify treaties Apportionment and Redistricting - Reapportionment: seats in the house of representatives are redistributed to each state to account for nationwide population shifts detected in decennial census - The House was originally only 65 members and GREW though population growth - Congress passed a bill eventually to limit its size to 435 - Gerrymandering: politicians deliberately draw congressional district lines for electoral advantage Three types of Gerrymandering: 1. Partisan gerrymandering: 2. incumbent gerrymandering 3. racial gerrymandering Notes: Congress 2/19/16 1. Partisan Gerrymandering - state legislators draw district lines to guarantee that a political party will win seats in congress 2. Incumbent gerrymandering - state legislators draw district lines in a way that guarantees that the current officeholders will win reelection 3. Racial gerrymandering - state legislators draw district lines in a way that will increase the likelihood of a racial or ethnic minority candidate winning the seat COURT CASES: - Baker vs Carr: Supreme court decided that it would regularly require and oversee redistricting in order to prohibit states from using things such as class, race, or partisanship as primary factors in structuring congressional district lines. - Incumbents: Those who currently hold political office - When did congress pass a bill to limit its size: Year 1929 - Decennial Census: Provides basis for proportional representation in our national Legislature - Gerrymandering: Manipulation of district lines for electoral advantage Bills becoming law LONG PROCESS OH MY GOODNESS… 1. Only a member of CONGRESS can introduce a BILL 2. In the House of Representatives, this requires that the bill be dropped in the Hopper (wooden box in front of chamber) 3. Bill is printed by the clerk of the house 4. Bill is sent to a committee for review and discussion 5. Committee:Agroup of members of congress assigned to consider proposed legislation in a given jurisdiction and make recommendations to the full chamber 6. The committee considers the bill and directs it to relevant subcommittee 7. Public hearings scheduled by subcommittee 8. “markup” session to edit and revise 9. Vote by subcommittee 10. Bill returns to full committee for hearings 11. Processed through the rules Committee and given a RULE INCLUDING TIME LIMITSAND AMENDMENTACTIVITY 12. Speakers office schedules the bill for debate on house floor 13. Passed by full house after debate and amendment 14. THEN FINALLY………SENT TO THE SENATE FORAPPROVAL Some Terms: - Filibuster: Tactic used to delay or prevent action on a bill by extending the debate on it - Cloture: Legislative procedure used in the senate to bring and end to debate which requires 60 VOTES to invoke and end a filibuster. - Committee:Agroup of members of congress assigned to consider proposed legislation in a given jurisdiction and make recommendations to the full chamber - Gerrymandering: Manipulation of district lines for electoral advantage - Decennial Census: Provides basis for proportional representation in our national Legislature - Incumbents: Those who currently hold political office - Pocket Veto: Type of veto that DOES NOT require the president’s signature. If the president doesn't sign the bill within ten days it becomes a law unless congress adjourns it - Whips: Members of Congress tasked with enforcing party discipline and ensuring the presence of other members of the party when votes are taken on the floor of each chamber (ENFORCING PARTY DISCIPLINE) - Unified Government: The situation occurring when the same party controls the Senate, the House of representatives and the white house - Divided Government: The situation occurring when one party controls the White House and another party controls the House, the senate, or BOTH Notes: Congress 2/19/16 Senate: - Bills are introduced on the senate floor during the “MORNING HOUR” - From there, a bill is directed to committee and subcommittee - Senate LACKS rules committee - Bill can be defeated by a filibuster, which is only ended by cloture 60 votes PRESIDENT: Has 10 days to act on legislation that has been passed by congress, during this ten days he can sign the bill to become law or veto (reject) to return to congress. Parties: - In the House, the institutional leader is the SPEAKER (Elected by the full house) - Speaker: Second in Line behind the vice president - Institutional Leader of the senate: VICE PRESIDENT, serves as president of chamber HE ONLY VOTES WHEN THERE ISATIE - Parties have to function within a system of two separated branches of government that are both actively involved in the process. During periods of unified government, the speed of the legislative process can be staggering. - Divided government is slow! COMMITTEES: - Standing Committees:Apermanent committee of the house or the senate that reviews and reports legislation to the full chamber - Conference committees:Atemporary committee composed of members from both the House and the Senate responsible for working out of the differences between chamber versions of a bill. - Joint Committees:Acommittee composed of members from both the House and the Senate with jurisdiction over specific issues of mutual interest - Special Committees:Atemporary committee organized around a specific purpose.Also called a SELECT committee or an ad hoc committee, a special committee is usually investigative in nature and lacks the authority to review legislation. Standing Committees: (Rules committee) - Persist from one congress to the next - These were created to permit division of labor so that legislation could be processed more efficiently - In the HOUSE only, there is a standing committee that sets the parameters for debate on the House floor. including time limits and allowable amendment activity (Rules committee - all legislation must pass through it before being considered by the full chamber of the house) Conference Committees: - Unique and TEMPORARY - Only form at the end of the legislative process to reconcile differences between the house and senate versions of a bill - Once the conference committee worked out the differences between the House and Senate versions and agreed to a final version of a bill, it would report the legislation back to both houses of congress for a final vote. Joint Committee: - Involves BOTH members from the House and Senate - NO LEGISLATIVEAUTHORITY - Serve to oversee and evaluate issues of mutual interest pertaining to congressional administration and policy development - Select…Special…ad hoc Committee: Temporary committees established to preform specific duties for congress like conducting investigations (Ex: Homeland security, became a standing committee) Notes: Congress 2/19/16 Members of Congress MUST consider multiple influences when making decisions - They pay attention to party leaders but also consider the IMPACT on their constituents - Members are driven by their goals as well, these goals directly impact their legislative decisions - Primary GOAL: WINNING REELECTION - Interest groups supply legislators with position papers and memos Terms: - Logrolling: Exchanging political favors, such as votes, to achieve mutually beneficial legislative outcomes - Casework: Services provided by members of congress and their staff to assist constituents in dealing with bureaucratic agencies - Delegate:Amodel of representation calling for members of congress to serve as the mouth piece of their constituents in the legislative process.As a delegate a member is expected to directly reflect constituent sentiment - Trustee:Amodel of representation calling for members of congress to protect the interest of their constituents.As a trustee, a member is expected to use his or her best judgement when making legislative decisions - Homestyle: Representational dynamic that each member of congress develops to meet specific expectations of his or her constituents - Earmarking: Spending for district-specific projects Balancing National and Local Interests: - When members of Congress face decisions about pressing policy concerns, they must ask themselves who and what is that they should represent. - They can choose the direction of a delegate or a trustee - Choosing DELEGATE they will be following the dictates of the constituency - Choosing TRUSTEE would be their own personal judgement when deciding - Members of congress work on solving public problems for a living, experts on Lawmaking Class notes Congress 2/23 Bicameral Legislature: House Senate (more reasoned) 435 Rep. 100 senators 1 per geo district 2 per state 2 year terms 6 year terms Two key types of representation: 1. Delegates: Do what we want them to do 2. Trustee: Latitude to do what is best for us, longer view of politics, govern with an eye towards the future Census: (COUNTING of the people in the US) - Reallocate positions in the house of representatives, relative because there is a set number of representatives Marking Time in congress: - Congress is the body of people that govern us, also a 2 year window each house serves for a Congress and is up for reelection Herding Cats: - Congress = 535 elected officials + thousands of staff members - How do they coordinate to get anything done? - Structure: > Party structure / Leadership (guide) > Committee Structure (divide up labor in efficient manner) Party Leadership in the house: - SELECTED by the House Conference (Reps) and Caucus (Dems) -All house members of that party - Majority party REPUBLICANS (Control who these people are) > Speaker of the house - Paul Ryan (WI) > Majority Leader - Kevin McCarthy (CA) > Majority whip - Steve Scalise (LA) - Minority Party (DEMOCRATS) >Minority Leader - Nancy Pelosi (CA) PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE > VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES Job - impeachment, break ties, read the electoral college votes, doesn't do much MAJORITY = REPUBLICANS ; MINORITY = DEMOCRATS Party Leadership in the senate: - Majority Party (REPUBLICANS) > President Pro Tempore > Majority Leader > Majority whip - Minority Party (DEMOCRATS) > Minority Leader > Minority Whip Committee Structure - Types of Committees: (Group with a common task and knowledge base) Class notes Congress 2/23 - Standing committee: Permanent committee - Select Committees: Short term committees that are created to deal with specific problems (Hurricane) - Joint Committees: Type of select committee but include both members House and senate - Conference Committee: If the law that came through the house and Senate isn't the same therefore a compromise must be met. (When congress passes a law both the house and the senate have to approve the exact same law in order for it to go to the president. If a piece of legislation goes through the house and senate, likely to be changed by house and senate and when it comes out on the other end they could be similar laws but they are NOT the same) Committee Structure: CommitteeAssignments - Majority party gets the majority of seats on committee but not all of them - Decided by the House/Senate leadership of each party - Chairmanship is usually based on committee seniority - Legislators seek key assignments (power) In the House what is the most powerful Committee? - The House Rules Committee (Decides on legislation on the floor from the House, dictate on if that piece of legislation is going to survive or not) How a bill becomes a law: Step 1: Introduction - Legislation has to be introduced (Write it! “Draft”) - Legislation must be introduced into the House and Senate (Sponsorship)Alot of times they will get more than one person to sponsor because it is HARD TO IGNORE if more than one supports it. - Referral to committees Step 2: CommitteeAction (If committee doesn't see it, legislation dies) - Written Comment (Committee refers to subcommittee to hold hearings) - Hearings (Oral comments, allow members of the committee to ask questions) - Mark - Up (Editing, could be minor or could change it all) - Reports are issued (Majority of the committee support so they write why they support and if they don't support why they are against it, RATIONALEAND REASONING) Step 3: FloorAction PartA: The house - Make a stop at the rules committee: Decide how much debate will be on the floor, hours of debate, how many hours will go to each republican or democrat, pass an open rule (Pass amendments during debate to change written language) and closed rule (Doesn't get to change anymore) - Debate on the house floor - Some is actual debate some is simply recorded, the recording’s purpose was to make a record to please their constituents - Quorum Call - 218 members have to be present, a way to stop debate (not useful) It is up mainly to the rules committee on how long someone gets to talk - Vote - (goal after debate) You need a vote of a certain number of people that support legislation Step 3: FloorAction Part B: The Senate - No limit on debate or amendments (NO RULES COMMITTEE) UNLIMITED DEBATE OMG! - Filibuster (Cloture Vote…since there is no limit on debate or amendments) The option of a filibuster is that someone comes and talks forever until they are done, people cannot vote until they are done. (The minority responsibility to talk, majority listens if quorum is called and republicans are not there they can go home sleep and come back and continue. If minority wants to end a filibuster they have a cloture vote, that is difficult.) Step 4: CombinedAction (Once house and senate have approved it goes to conference committee) Class notes Congress 2/23 - Several Options: > Only one chamber has voted on the bill (Has to go to other chamber) > House or Senate vote on the same person of bill (done) > House and Senate have different versions of the bill (goes to conference committee) Step 5 PresidentialAction: - President signs bill - President vetoes bill (Usually dead law…House and senate can override veto by having a 2/3 of house and the senate each to support legislation and it will become law) ^ ^ ^ ^ What if the president…does…NOTHING? - Pocket Veto: if the legislation that sits on his desk till the end of everything, sits it in the drawer Why would he choose to do NOTHING? (instead of veto or sign) - Plausible deniability “I didn't sign it…” - In contrast it could die if you do nothing Why pocket Veto…? - Legislative process is long and grueling, powerful because congress cannot touch it anymore and they have to start all over. The advantage of a Pocket Veto over a regular Veto: - Pocket vetoes cannot be overridden by congress. The pocket vetoed bill simply disappears until it is started again in another session of congress.Anormal veto can be overridden but only about 4% have been.


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