Government Week 7 Notes
Government Week 7 Notes POLS 1101
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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Chapman Lindgren on Friday September 30, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLS 1101 at University of Georgia taught by James E. Monogan, Anneliese S. Hermann in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 10 views. For similar materials see American Government in History at University of Georgia.
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Date Created: 09/30/16
American Government Notes Week 7 Congress: Representative Pressures Lesson Objectives 9/26/16: Debate how members of Congress can best represent constituents Constitutional Prerogatives: Powers of Congress Designed to be the most powerful branch Primary lawmaking body Article 1, Section 8, lists enumerated (or expressed) powers o Includes the authority to tax, borrow and coin money, operate postal service, promote science and the arts, declare war, raise and support armies and a navy, suppress insurrections, and build a capital city. Also lists the necessary and proper (or “elastic”) clause, where the broadest power is found. o Grants Congress the authority to make laws in the national interest o Where congress today claims most of its powers Constitutional Prerogatives: Structure Representation through a bicameral legislature o Compromised of the House and Senate Blend of popular government and federalism House vs. Senate: House is intended to represent the people, so the number of seats each state gets in the House are apportioned according to the size of the population of the state. They serve 2 year terms Senate: there are 2 senators per state to represent the state regardless of size. Originally picked by state th legislatures but after the 17 amendment, they are elected by the people. 1/3 of the chamber goes up for reelection every 2 years. o Connecticut Compromise between large and small states House and Senate: contrast term lengths and percentage up for reelection Principal-agent problem: public representation What is the Best Type of Representation? How does a member determine how best to represent constituents? Edmund Burke proposed that sometimes members act like trustees and other times like delegates o Trustees are representatives who make decisions using their own judgement about what is best for their constituents American Government Notes Week 7 o Delegates are representatives who listen carefully to what their constituents want and make decisions based on feedback from constituents Most members try to balance these visions of representation (the politico model) Descriptive representation and substantive representation Redistricting The number of districts in each state is based on population, with each state getting at least one. o The number of seats a state gets is based on its population. The population is determined every ten years by the national census o A state can gain or lose seats if its population grows or shrinks relative to other states If a state gains or loses seats, it must redraw its district boundaries. Even if there is not a change in the number of seats a state is allotted, a state can still redraw its districts The total number of districts has been fixed at 435 since 1911 Most states redraw district lines every ten years even if they don’t lose or gain seats Redistricting and “One Person, One Vote” Supreme Court put restrictions on the drawing of districts in the 1960s. They concluded that all House districts must be approximately equal in population. o Baker v. Carr (1962) o Wesberry v. Sanders (1964) o Reynolds v. Sims (1964) Prior to the Court’s decision, some districts had more constituents than other districts Districts must adhere to “one person, one vote” standard Forced states to draw districts with equal populations Gerrymandering To gerrymander is to manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class. Politics easily intrudes into the drawing of districts By redistricting, states can manipulate representation o It is up to states to redistrict and therefore which part is in control of the state’s government has the ability to manipulate representation and power in the state Districts are frequently drawn in strange shapes to gain political advantage Redistricting and Descriptive Presentation American Government Notes Week 7 Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the election of more minority candidates Section 2: no dilution of minority vote (no packing or cracking) Court scrutiny of congressional redistricting Court scrutiny of congressional redistricting o Section 5 provision of preclearance o Shelby County vs. Holder (2013) and Section 4(b) Federal examiners under section 6 (expired 2006) Also a rise in the number of women elected, but Congress still does not demographically mirror the nation as a whole Partisan and Racial Redistricting American Government Notes Week 7 Partisan Redistricting: Imagine Racial Gerrymandering: Imagine a a rectangular state with nine rectangular state with nine voters and voters and three House seats. If three House seats. If the district lines the district lines are drawn one are drawn one way, there is a mix of way, there is a mix of Republicans Republicans and Democrats in each and Democrats in each district. In district. In this scenario, Republicans this scenario, Republicans have a have a majority in each district and will majority in each district and will likely win all three seats. However, likely win all three seats. However, district boundaries could also be drawn district boundaries could also be to give Democrats a majority in at least drawn to give Democrats a one district. In this second scenario, majority in at least one district. In Democrats would be expected to win this second scenario, Democrats one of the three seats. Right Panel: Racial Gerrymandering The same approaches have been used to try to manipulate the voting power and representation of minorities. In a hypothetical state with six white voters and three black voters, lines could be drawn such that black voters do not constitute a majority in any district. Or, boundaries could be drawn to create at least one “minority-majority” district, where members of the minority group constitute a majority of voters. Although this configuration may result in a black candidate being elected from the minority majority district, some scholars have questioned whether this approach The Incumbency Advantage ultimately improves the overall Members of Congress are reelected in very high numbers American Government Notes Week 7 o Reelection rates are slightly lower in the Senate because senators face challengers of higher quality (i.e., with more experience) What causes this advantage? o Gerrymandering Gerrymandering suggests that districts were redrawn in such a way to protect incumbents. In fact, back in the 1960s and 1970s state legislatures controlled by Democrats engaged in partisan gerrymandering, putting many Republican voters in just a few districts. While at the time this ensured many more “safe” Democratic districts, the end result was the creation of several “very safe” Republican districts. Members from these districts are now unlikely to face a Democratic challenger. o Pork The idea that pork leads to the incumbency advantage stems from the belief that especially since the 1960s when congressional staffs increased in size, members have been very good at getting things their constituents want (connect back to the pork-barrel model from earlier). By bringing benefits to the district, members are helping to ensure their reelection. o Television access Television access increases the incumbency advantage because it helps members of Congress get their name out to their constituents. Even before television, many elections were won simply because voters recognized the name of the incumbent on the ballot. Television/internet/the franking privilege all increase the likelihood that voters know their incumbent’s name and cast a vote in her favor. o Campaign finance Campaign finance laws have enabled incumbents to amass large amounts of money even before officially kicking off their reelection bid. By establishing these large “war chests” potential challengers might be so fearful of losing or not being able to raise enough money to compete that they self-select out of the race. o National party efforts The national parties have also improved their organizations and now do a better job of directing money to vulnerable incumbents. Congress: Structure and Processes American Government Notes Week 7 Lesson Objectives 9/28/16: Identify voting rules and organizational structure of Congress Explain the basic process of turning a bill into a law Party Leaders Party leaders solve coordination and unstable coalition problems by enforcing party discipline o Party discipline is illustrated by the tendency for legislators of the same party to vote the same way on a given bill Reed’s Rules provide procedural guidelines for party leaders o Party leaders will often only allow legislation to get to the floor that is liked by the party’s members o Party whips make sure that party members are going to vote the way the party wants them to Party leaders are elected at the beginning of a Congress by the members of each party: o Speaker of the House o Majority / Minority Leader o Majority / Minority Whip Committees Much of the detailed legislative work in Congress occurs in committees Each committee focuses on a particular area of policy (jurisdiction). Sole purpose Allows for specialization and expertise in committees –so better public policy o Members want to be on committees that work in policy areas that they know a lot about and that benefit their constituency Also allows for self-selection for members, who may craft legislation, find district benefits, or rise in prestige o Members of congress request certain committee assignments and the party (partisan model) decides who gets placed where o Loyal members are rewarded the most frequently. Types of Committees Standing committees o Exist permanently o Examples include the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee Special / Select Committees o Formed for a specific purpose o Ex: committee formed for the Benghazi hearings American Government Notes Week 7 Joint Committees o Members of House and Senate, no legislative authority o Because they have no legislative authority, they just frequently issue reports about particular issues Conference Committees o Members of House and Senate for resolving differences over a bill o The most common method of resolving these differences is the “ping-pong” method where the bill is passes back and forth between the chambers, resolving differences in the process Committee Membership Determining committee assignments is a highly political process o Party leaders determine committee assignments and therefore more loyal members are rewarded Chairs of committees and chairs of subcommittees are powerful o Agenda Setter: help to resolve unstable coalition issues The Legislative Process I Bill proposals: only legislators can introduce bills o Often times the executive branch or interest groups will develop ideas for legislation but a member of Congress must formally introduce the bill to Congress o Only members of House can propose a bill to the House of Representatives and only a Senator can represent a bill to the Senate Bills referred to proper committee based on jurisdiction and party goals Committee action o Most bills not acted on in committee o Committees may mark up bills for the floor House uses special rules to bring bills to the floor o Open rules, closed rules, and restricted rules Senate uses unanimous consent agreements to bring bills to floor—this empowers individuals The Legislative Process II Floor debate: capped in House, unlimited in Senate o Senate filibusters be stopped with a 3/5 cloture vote o There is little actual debate in the House/Senate floor. Most is done beforehand the speaker is simply reading a script Roll calls in both chambers Resolving differences between House and Senate bills Enrolled bills sent to president, who faces a 10-day window to: o Sign, veto, pocket veto, or “pocket sign” the bill American Government Notes Week 7 House and Senate can override veto with a 2/3 vote of each chamber Separation of powers creates bias against action (“institutional friction”) Senate Distinctiveness Unlimited debate is allowed (unique) o Filibuster: when a senator holds the floor and speaks for a long time to stall for time American Government Notes Week 7 o Cloture: invoked in order to end a filibuster Committees less powerful o No germaneness rule Parties less powerful o Individual rights trump collective action in Senate Other Internal Features Caucuses, staff, and research services also play a role in Congress o Caucuses are another way in which members of Congress can organize themselves. Caucuses can be based on ideology, economic interests, social values, demographics, etc. Ex: black caucus in House of Cards Caucuses are a way for members to group themselves for business CBO and CRS provide independent information for members o The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is the congressional agency charged with reviewing congressional budgets and other legislative initiatives with budgetary implications. o The Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides policy and legal analysis to committees and members of Congress.