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POLS 1337 Lecture 6 - Congress

by: Julian Quesada

POLS 1337 Lecture 6 - Congress pols 1337 Cyrus Contractor

Marketplace > University of Houston > pols 1337 Cyrus Contractor > POLS 1337 Lecture 6 Congress
Julian Quesada

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These notes cover Professor Contractor's lecture over congress
US Govt: Congress,Pres & Crts
Cyrus Contractor
Class Notes
pols, political science, Social Science
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Julian Quesada on Sunday February 28, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to pols 1337 Cyrus Contractor at University of Houston taught by Cyrus Contractor in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 45 views.

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Date Created: 02/28/16
POLS 1337 LECTURE 6 - CONGRESS Center of Policy Making Representatives and Senators  The job o Hard work  The typical representative is a member of about six committees and subcommittees; a senator is a member of about ten  Scheduling conflicts o Attractions  Power  Substantial salary and perks  The Members o 535 Members of Congress  Senate - 100  Must be ( ) and must have lived in US for ( )  House of Reps - 435  Must be ( ) and must have lived in US for ( ) o Elite Club  Largely speaking yes, the members of the house and senate come from elite professions. Lawyers or businessmen. o Demographics  African-Americans - Less than 10% of representation is African American while 12-13% of the populations is made of African-Americans  Hispanic-Americans - 14-16% of Population is Hispanic, not well represented  Women - ~50% of population is female but not that much representation o Descriptive vs Substantive  Substantive - Represents the interests of groups  Descriptive - Directly representing the interests of a group Congressional Elections  Who wins? o Incumbents win o House of Representatives  Incumbents win 90% of the time with 60% approval  When challenger align more with the district than the incumbent, the incumbent still wins  Most important criteria is to win the election two years earlier o Senate  Incumbent advantage not as good as in house, smaller margins when win  Greater competition because an entire state is almost always more diverse than a congressional district  Congressional district is homogenous  Less personal contact with constituents  Senate is more televised and public  Advantages of Incumbents o Voters are not very aware of how our senators and representatives work o Members of Congress do not gain or lose much from fluctuations in the economy o Three primary activities that increase the probability of their reelections  Advertising  Takes place between elections, contact with constituents  Credit Claiming  Casework - helping constituents as individuals, helping cut through bureaucratic red tape  "pork barrel" - Gets money to go towards their state  Position taking  Take positions, when the vote on issues, respond to constituents where they stand on issues. o Weak Opponents  Incumbents in the house and senate are likely to face weak opponents. o Party Identification  Although party loyalty at the voting booth is not as strong as it was a generation ago, it is still a good predictor of voting behavior  Most members of Congress represent constituents in which their party is the majority o Defeating Incumbents  Scandal or Corruption  Scandal makes a voter take out their anger at the poles.  Redistricting  Congressional membership is reapportioned every new census, so incumbents could be reapportioned out of their comfort zone  Major Political Tidal Waves o Money in Congressional Elections  House races in 2002, 2004, and 2006 - incumbent outspent challenger by 2 to 1  In 2008, it was 3 to 1  2007-2008 election cycle saw congressional candidates and supporting party committees spend more than $2 billion to contest 435 House and 33 Senate seats.  Spending a lot of money is no guarantee of success  Money is important for challengers  Open seats o Stability and Change  As a result of incumbents usually winning reelection  Some reformers have proposed term limitations laws for senators and representatives The Organization of Congress  Making policy is the toughest of all the legislative roles. Congress is a collection of generalists trying to make a policy on specialized topics.  American Bicameralism o Bicameral Legislature o Framers' Intentions  Senate protects elite interests and the house would be closer to the masses. Gave house the power of originating revenue bills and the impeachment of official happens in the house. Only the senate makes treaties, tries impeached officials. o The House and the Senate each set their own agenda  Both use committees to narrow down the thousands of bills introduced o House of Representatives  Larger and more institutionalized than senate  Party line voting is common (party loyalty)  Debate can be ended with simple majority vote  House Rules Committee o Senate  Bigger egos, more well known, aren't lead as much as house  Party leaders do for the senate what the house rules does for the house  Filibuster and cloture o Congressional Leadership  House Leadership  Speaker of House - (who currently is it, party?)  Formal powers  Informal powers  Majority Leader - (who currently is it, party)  Whips - what do they do  Minority Leader - (who currently is it, party?)  Senate leadership  Majority leader  Minority leader o Committees and Subcommittees  Most of the real work goes on in committees  Control national agenda  Control  Committee types  Standing  Joint  Conference  Select Stages in Subcommittee & Committee Consideration of a Bill  Hearings - Hearing for the bill to be heard  Mark-up - The house marks up the bill and changes it to be fair  Vote Three Large Generalizations About the Congressional Process  Slow  Power is highly fragmented which necessitates bargaining leading to compromise  It is easier to block a bill than to pass one


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