Chapter 6 Notes
Chapter 6 Notes POLS 1101
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This 20 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kyla Brinkley on Tuesday September 15, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to POLS 1101 at University of Georgia taught by Ryan Bakker in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 48 views. For similar materials see American Government in Political Science at University of Georgia.
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Date Created: 09/15/15
Kyla Brinkley POLS 1101 Notes Fall 2015 Bakker Chapter 6 Congress a b c The House and Senate occupy the center stage in national policymaking Congressional parties have become highly polarized Electoral politics influences almost everything members of congress do individually and collectively The majority party through its leaders directs and sometimes dominates the action in the House but less so in the Senate i The degree of control depends on how unified the parties are internally The rules amp organization the House amp Senate adopt have a deliberate amp crucial effect on both the distribution of power and policymaking in Congress It s easier to stop things from happening than make them happen in congress Congress in the Constitution i The basic structure of congress is the product of the Great Compromise at the Constitutional Convention 1 Bicameral legislature was mixed solution 2 Representatives in House popularly chosen in biennial elections held in even numbered years a Two year term b Broad suffrage qualification for voting is the same Short tenure Min age 25 Citizen for 7 years Must live in state they represent but not in the districts they serve i Usually do though quot ltD 19 3 Senate a Term 6 years b 13 of senates membership stands for election every 2 years c Stable compared to the House d Incorporated remnants of state sovereignty into the new national gov e Min age 30 f Citizen for 9 years g Must live in state they represent h Powers of Congress i Necessary amp proper clause expands power of congress 1 Elastic clause stretched powers of congress ii Only congress may declare war raise amp finance an army amp navy amp call out state militias 1 Senate ratifies treaties amp confirms presidential appointments of ambassadors 2 Senate approves presidentially appointed supreme court justices amp top executive branch officials a Senate is advisory council to the executive iii Bills raising revenue originate in the House with the Senate having a right to amend them iv Congress doesn t have exclusive authority over legislation i The Electoral System i Members of congress and presidents are elected separately ii Members of congress are elected from states amp congressional districts by plurality vote iii Some parliamentary systems employ proportional representation gives a party a share of seats in the legislature matching the hare of votes it wins on Election Day 1 Ex if party s share of votes gets 85 seats then 85 candidates from the party go to parliament a Voters are choosing among parties not candidates iv American legislators are elected from territorial units not party lists 1 Parties matter in congressional elections 2 Parties don t control nominations though 3 Almost all congressional nominees are now chosen by voters in primary elections j Congressional Districts i House of Reps membership was fixed at today s 435 in 1911 ii States lose and gains seats to reflect population shifts after 10year censuses vi vii 1 Show population movements of US Federal law can apportion House seats among states after each census but each state draws the lines that divide its territory into districts 1964 Wesberry v Sanders districts must have equal populations 1986 Thornburg v Gingles district lines may not dilute minority representation but also can t be drawn with race as the predominant consideration 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 wm 1986 Davis v Bandemer a gerrymander would be unconstitutional if it were too strongly biased against a party s candidates 1 Vague 2 Racial Gerrymandering a Supreme court 1986 Thornburg decision was interpreted as making mapmakers design districts where racial amp ethnic minorities constituted a majority of voters wherever residence patterns made this feasible k Unequal Representation in the Senate There are 50 senate constituencies one for each state The 9 largest states have 51 of the total US population and the smallest 26 states have 18 of the population but 52 of seats in the Senate Until 1913 senators were chosen by state legislatures 1 Progressivism 17th amendment changed to popular election Congress and Electoral Politics Modern congress organized to serve goals of its members CandidateCentered vs PartyCentered Electoral Politics 1 During era of dominance congressional Democrats thrived onencouraged electoral politics where candidates operated largely as independent political entrepreneurs 4 5 Republicans sought in 1994 to have their candidates run more as a party team emphasizing national issues and a common program of action Political action committees PACs organizations that raise amp distribute money for campaigns Most congressional campaigns were personal and centered on local interestsvalues Ticketsplitting voting for candidates of different parties for different offices iii The Advantages of lncumbency 1 2 Congressional incumbents exploited and abetted the loosening of party ties Members could expand their electoral base by emphasizing individual character legislative performance and constituency services encouraging voters to use this criteria in deciding how to vote Congress voted themselves greater resources for servicing their statesdistricts a Higher allowances for staff travel offices communication Incumbent reelection rates have been higher since mid19605 Growth in party line voting and decline in ability of incumbents to separate themselves from their party s collective fate Fortunes of congressional candidates are increasingly tied to those of their presidential candidates Despite growing importance of party individual candidates still matter so incumbents still work to discourage potential opponents Constituent Service a Members of congress highly responsive to their constituencies b Keeping in touch staying visible c Casework requests from constituents for info and help in dealing with government agencies Vulnerable Senators a Senators 3x more likely to lose their seats than House reps i But senators face reelection 13 as often so tenure in office stays equal b Senate election outcomes more variable than House election outcomes c Senate incumbents win less consistently and by narrower margins than representatives because i States are more populous and diverse than congressional districts ii States are more likely than congressional districts to have balanced party competition iii Senate races attract a larger proportion of experienced politically talented well financed challengers iv States usually fit media markets better v Senators are more readily associated with controversial issues and don t have pressure of 2year election cycle iv National Politics in Congressional Elections 1 Resurgence of partycentered campaigning since 1994 has strengthened the national component of congressional election politics 2 National forces still have effect on electoral fates 3 ln midterm elections president s party almost always loses congressional seats 4 Members of congress can t always dissociate from their party s fate or separate themselves from Congress a Try to show individual efforts v Representation vs Responsibility 1 Legislators represent citizens by carrying out the policies promised by the party 2 Candidate centered electoral process that flourished during democratic control before 1994 gave members of congress more incentive to be more individually responsive than collectively responsible This has been slightly reduced since then 3 Pursuit of reelection makes logrolling legislative practice in which members of congress offer reciprocal support to each other s votegaining projects or tax breaks an attractive strategy a Creates prisoners dilemma 4 Earmarks items individual members routinely insert into spending bills or revenue bills providing special benefits to their states etc 5 Pork barrel legislation legislation that provides members of congress with federal projects and programs for their individual districts a same logic that encourages logrolling makes members of congress hesitate to impose direct costs on identifiable groups to produce greater but more diffuse benefits for all citizens b ways to fight this i delegate authority to bureaucratic agencies or state govs let them take the heat ii frame the lawmaker s choice in a way that highlights credit for the general benefits while minimizing individual responsibility mWho Serves in Congress i Not representative of US demographically ii Womenracial minorities underrepresented iii of blacksHispanics in the house increased after 1982 voting rights act amendments maximize of majority minority districts iv Difference in diversity v 113th congress 201314 for first time ever womenminorities make up majority 53 of House democratic membership vi Republican house membership 90 white men n The Basic Problems of Legislative Organization i To exercise the powers conferred on them by the Constitution the House and Senate had to solve problems 1 How to coordinate action 2 How to resolve conflicts 3 How to get members to work for common amp personal goals ii Challenges that spurred members to develop the modern congress fall into 2 classes 1 Problems besetting the House amp Senate as organizations 2 Problems arising from the competing individual amp collective needs of members iii The Need for Information 1 Division of labor and specialization 2 Committeesubcommittee systems 3 Specialists are able to develop deeper understanding of their domains 4 Better informed decisions 5 More efficient 6 Congress compensates members who master an area of specialization amp supply specialized information with enhance influence iv Coordination Problems 1 Coordination becomes more difficult amp necessary the greater the group s workload amp the more elaborate its division of labor 2 Dividing up the work directing flow of bills through legislative process scheduling debates amp votes on the floor coordination problems 3 Usually solved by group giving one or several members the authority to coordinate 4 Control over the agenda is powerful legislative weapon v Resolving Conflicts 1 Legislation isn t passed until the majorities in both houses agree 2 Agreement requires successful politicking getting people who are pursuing divergent even conflicting ends to make a common course of action 3 Members delegate the task of building legislative coalitions to party leaders 4 Presence of readymade coalitions resolves many conflicts in advance reducing the transaction costs of negotiating agreements on legislation a Price is loss of autonomy to the party and of authority to its leaders individual members incur greater conformity costs because they cannot always do what is politically best for themselves rather than their party vi Collective Action 1 What members do to pursue individual goals tax breaks for local firms special projects for their constituents maintaining their ideological purity by rejecting compromise may undermine the reputation of their party or of Congress as a whole 2 Tension between individual amp collective political welfare pervades congressional life a Prisoners dilemma vii Transaction Costs 1 Transaction costs the price of doing politics time effort bargaining resources favors to be exchanged 2 Many transaction costs of congress have to do with building legislative coalitions conflicts compromises favors 3 Congress is organized to limit other transaction costs a Fixed rules to automate decisions i Seniority rule routinely allocating first choice in committee chairs offices and committee assignments to majority party members who have served longest ii Reduces time and energy that would ve been spent competing 4 Need to reduce transaction costs explains why congress does its work within an elaborate structure of rules amp precedents viii Time Pressures 1 Pressure to avoid unnecessary transaction costs is intensified by the ticking clock a One year session of congress b Two year tenure of each congress 2 as budgets have grown larger Congress has found it difficult to enact them on schedule 3 legislation has to pass through all the hurdles within the 2 year life of a Congress 4 bills in the pipeline but not enacted by the end of the second session of one Congress must be reintroduced in the next Congress 5 because House is bigger it experiences higher organizational problems than the senate 6 senators can get away with looser organization and retain more individual autonomy and equality because there are less of them 0 Organizing Congress i Have to overcome barriers to collective action ii The Parties 1 Decisions made by majority vote a Enact bills b Set rules c Establish procedures d Choose leaders e Decide how to organize houses 2 Political parties are formed when people recognize it is in their best interests to cooperate despite their disagreements 3 Party coalitions are assembled and maintained by party leaders 4 Members sacrifice independence by conceding some authority to party leaders 5 Development of Congressional Parties a Began to form in first session of First Congress i Hamilton v Madison amp Jefferson ii Wanted to recruit and elect likeminded men iii Federalists v Republicans then called DemocraticRepublicans then Democrats 6 Speaker of the house majority s leader amp agent Authority to appoint committees make rules manage legislative process on the majority party s behaH a Centralized authority reached its peak under Speaker Thomas Brackett Speaker in 51 54 55 congresses 18905 i Support of Republican House majority ii Short terms caused them to not mind strong leadership iii Began to weaken Speaker 1910 House members chose to tolerate higher transaction costs to reduce their conformity costs iv 1970s democrats strengthened speaker v 1995 Newt Gingrich republican most powerful speaker since Cannon 1903 1911 b Conditional party government the degree of authority delegated to and exercised by congressional party leaders varies with and is conditioned by the extent of election driven ideological consensus among members iii Increased Partisanship 1 Party coalitions have become more homogeneous 2 As the congressional parties became more unified also became more polarized along ideological lines 3 Party Organization a Majority party of the House led by the Speaker of the House i Assistants are 1 Majority leader the 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 behind the Speaker 2 Majority whip heads up the whip organization the members who form the communication network connecting leaders with other members whose purpose is to help solve the party s coordination problems ii The minority party leadership is the same minus the Speaker the minority leader is its head b Party members give House party leaders resources for inducing members to cooperate when they are tempted to go their own way as free riders c House party leaders are members agents not bosses The only people who can hire and fire party members are voters i Members choose the style of leadership they believe will best serve their goals d For the minority party in the house legislative leadership is normally less crucial because the party s legislative role has usually been modest e When the party balance is close minority leaders can influence legislation by forming alliances with moderate members of majority pany f When majority enjoys wider margin minority leaders choose between 2 strategic options cooperating with majority thus exerting some influence but getting little credit or opposing and attacking majority to position their party for future electoral battles i Minority leader has big dilemma when the pres is in their party because pres has to cut deals with the majority to accomplish anything at all 4 Parties amp Party Leaders in the Senate a Senate slower than House to develop formal leadership positions amp have never delegated as much authority to their leaders b President pro tempore presides when vice present is absent VP leads senate i Temporary position ii Neither is a real leadership role c Party leadership in the Senate is less formal than in the House d Minority party has greater influence in the Senate because business is conducted under unanimous consent agreements negotiated by party leaders These agreements can be killed by a single objection 5 Other Groups in Congress a Ideological i Republican study committee ii Progressive caucus iii New democrat coalition iv Blue dog coalition b Demographics i Black caucus ii Hispanic caucus iii Caucus for women s issues c Regional interests i Western caucus ii Appalachian caucus iii NortheastMidwest caucus d Economic concerns i Steel caucus ii Automotive caucus iii Wine caucus e Specific issues i Prolife caucus ii Prochoice caucus iii Human rights caucus iv The Committee Systems 1 Evolution of Congressional Committees a Transaction costs were reduced by having committee members appointed by the Speaker rather than elected b Standing committees exist from one Congress to the next unless they are explicitly disbanded c Seniority rule reduced transaction and conformity costs and avoided election and appointment by party leaders 2 Types of committees a Standing committees embody congress s division of legislative labor i Have fixed jurisdictions ii Stable memberships b Once elected members in committees keep seats unless their party suffers large electoral losses c Party ratios on committees match party ratios in the house and senate d Job security associated with standing committees gives committee members both the motive and opportunity to become knowledgeable about policy issues e Money committees important i Ways and Means committee in House ii Appropriations committee in House iii Finance and Appropriations committees in Senate 3 Committee Assignments a Made by party committees under the firm control of senior party leaders and are ratified by the party membership b Subcommittees fixed jurisdictionsstable memberships i Specialization c Specialselect committees appointed to deal with specific problems then disappear 4 Joint Committees a Joint committees gather info amp oversee executive agencies but do not support legislation i Ex Library committee oversees library of congress US botanic garden and public statuary b Ad hoc committees appointed to handle bills that are particularly sensitive c Conference committees appointed to resolve differences between the House amp Senate versions of bills 5 Committee Power a Committee chairs have control b Changes produced fragmented decentralized committee system 6 Jurisdiction a Committees amp subcommittees compete for jurisdiction over important policy areas b Inactive committees are hard to kill off i Since 19205 house amp senate have trimmed committee systems several times c Consolidation committees became subcommittees 7 Party leaders sometimes cope with the problem of multiple jurisdictions by using multiple referrals sending bills to several committees at the same time or in sequence 8 The Money Committees a power of the purse has influenced most contentious jurisdictional fights b Early years of gov revenuespending bills handled by Ways amp Means in House and Finance in Senate c Today legislative spending has 2 step process in each chamber d Committee with jurisdiction over a program authorizes expenditures for it e Appropriations committee appropriates he money i Writes bill f Entitlements designate specific classes of people who are entitled to a legally defined benefit 9 Budget Reform a Early 19705 ability of money committee to enforce collective selfcontrol eroded b Committee reforms weakened committee leaders c Move towards congressional openness i Doing more business in public ii Made it harder for indv Members to resist temptation to promote locally popular projects d Budget amp lmpoundment Control Act 1974 i Subjected presidential impoundment authority to strict congressional control ii Revamped Congress s budgetary process with goal of making impoundment unnecessary e Partisan politics dominates budgeting process v Congressional Staff amp Support Groups 1 Committee staffs deeply involved in all legislative activities a Organize hearings amp investigations research policy options attend to legislative details amp negotiate with legislators lobbyists amp executive branch officials on behalf of the party faction on the committee that employs them p Making Laws i Lawmaking process presents opponents of a bill with many opportunities to sidetrack or kill the legislation ii Easier for members to stop bills than to pass them iii Introducing Legislation 1 Only members may submit legislation to house or senate 2 many proposals originate outside of Congress but need a congressional sponsor to enter legislative process 3 personal credit for a collective act of Congress is a valuable commodity 4 proponents of bills try to line up cosponsors to build support by sharing credit and to display it increasing chances for legislative action 5 parties and pres use legislative proposals to stake out political positions amp make political statements iv Assignment to Committee 1 Most bills routinely assigned to appropriate committee 2 Complex bills referred to several committees 3 Controversial bills sometimes handled by temporary ad hoc committees appointed for that purpose alone 4 Once bill is assigned to committee usually nothing happens a Most bills die of neglect 5 Bills introduced by the minority party to score political points or embarrass the majority are deliberately buried v Hearings 1 Once subcommittee acts it or full committee holds hearings to testify in person or in writing about issue at stake and proposals to deal with it a From executive agencies interest groups academia 2 Committees can investigate almost anything including white house or congress itself 3 Congress often criticized for shirking its duty to oversee administration of laws vi Reporting a Bill 1 If subcommittee decides to act on a bill usually doesn t it edits it and reports it to full committee 2 Full committee accepts rejects or amends bill 3 If bill can t get support from at least majority party committee members it will probably die 4 Written report that comes with bills is most important source of info on legislation for members of congress not on the committee and other people in the gov a Summarize bills purpose vii Scheduling Debate 1 When committee reports bill to the floor bill is put on House or Senate calendar list of bills scheduled for ac on 2 Noncontroversial bills put on the consent calendar to be passed without debate 3 Controversial bills go to Union Calendar money bills or House Calendar other public bills 4 Open rule amendments from the floor 5 Restricted rule only certain amendments 6 Closed rule no amendments a Majority leader s use restrictedclosed rules to keep unwanted amendments off the agenda b Closed rules help solve majority party s prisoner s dilemmas i Many proposals wouldn t be enacted piece by piece because diff members would defect on diff sections ii But passed as packages instead to solve this 7 Sometimes House kills a bill by voting against the rule rather than against the bill itself 8 Discharge petition brings a bill directly to the floor without committee approval when signed by a majority of house members 9 Leaders of both parties negotiate unanimous consent agreements to arrange orderly consideration of legislation 10 Filibuster hold the floor making endless speeches so no action can be taken on the bill or anything else to try to kill bills that the majority would otherwise enact 11 Cloture allows max of 30 additional hrs of debate on bill before vote viii Debate amp Amendment 1 if amendments to a bill are allowed under the rule they must be pertinent to the purpose of the bill 2 riders extraneous proposals not allowed 3 quorum of members who must be present for House to act officially 4 floor debates don t change many minds Politian s aren t swayed by each other 5 floor action does more to shape legislation in senate than in house ix The Vote 1 Opponents of a measure may propose killer amendments which if passed make the bill unacceptable to an otherwise supportive majority 2 Recommit a bill send it back to committee for modification before final vote 3 What influences congressmen a Their own views b Opinions of constituents c Advise of colleagues 4 Explainable vote can be defended publicly if brought up by challenger in future campaign 5 House members job is to construct legislative packages that party members are comfortable supporting a If successful no persuasion necessary b If fail few members likely to put party loyalty ahead of constituents views 6 Roll call vote taken at request of at least 20 members x In Conference 1 Once passed bill sent to other chamber for consideration 2 If 2nol chamber passed bill unchanged sent to white house for pres signature or veto 3 Sometimes bill taken bath and forth between chambers with changes made 4 Party leaders in each house appoint a conference delegation that includes members of both parties usually from among the standing committee members most actively involved for and against the legislation 5 Conference committees reconcile differences in 2 versions of bills 6 If differences can t be fixed the bill dies a This is unusual b Usually if a bill makes it this far they make a choice xi To the President 1 Pres can sign bill etc or ignore so it ll be come law in 10 days xii 2 If congress adjourns before the 10 days are up the bill fails because it was subject to a pocket veto 3 If veto pres sends statement to congress to explain why 4 Congressional override of a presidential veto requires 23 vote in each chamber a b If overrode becomes law Success is rare because presidents party usually supports him A Bias Against Action 1 High transaction costs confer strong bias in favor of status quo 2 Opponents only need to win once to stop a bill 3 Unorthodox Lawmaking a b C e Requires heavy investment of leader s resources time energy favors Cooperation in face of disagreement to act collectively In House designing complex special rules to structure debate amp amendment to minimize minority s influence i Bypassingoverriding committees to draft bills directly ii Rewriting legislation iii Combining separate bills into packages all or nothing ln Senate i Filibuster ii Supermajority coalitions Victoriesdefeats always partial and temporary making cooperation possible q Evaluating Congress 39 Most incumbents win reelection even if public is fed up with national policies and politicians of 1 or both parties Americans use politics as vehicle for social decisions even when they share no consensus about best plan Congress has a bad reputation because of pluralism 1 ln pluralist politics adamant minorities frequently defeat apathetic majorities because they invest more of their political resources a Votes b Money c Persuasion Senators and reps can t avoid making political deals representing conflicted publics or paying attention to intensely held views Approval of congress varies in response to how it seems to be doing its job 1 Prefers bipartisan agreement not partisan bickering 2 Cooperation between branches 3 Successful gov policies
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