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Week 5 notes

by: Kirsten Swikert

Week 5 notes Political Science 110

Kirsten Swikert
GPA 3.2

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notes from 3-15 and 3-17
American National Government
Jeffrey Budziak
Class Notes
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kirsten Swikert on Thursday March 17, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Political Science 110 at Western Kentucky University taught by Jeffrey Budziak in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 28 views. For similar materials see American National Government in Political Science at Western Kentucky University.

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Date Created: 03/17/16
Bureaucracy • A hierarchically structured organization • Functions of government bureaucracy o Primarily responsible for implementing legislative choices • Characteristics o Hierarchy: a clear chain of command exists o Specialization: dividing tasks to be handled by experts o Professionalism: staff (bureaucrats) are professionals, not elected officials o “red tape”: complex procedures and administrative rules • History and Organization o Early America (1789-1828) § No career public servants § Staffed by amateurs § Andrew Jackson: dismissed nearly entire bureaucracy filled with appointees opposed to Democratic Party policies • Spoils system: based on the notion of patronage o Civil Service Reform § Motivations for reform • Corruption, inefficiency, and greed in the bureaucracy • The assassination of President Garfield by a disgruntled job seeker § Ex: The Pendleton Act • First steps to a bureaucracy that today is less political and more professional o Organization: § Cabinet departments: primary division among the federal bureaucracy § Managed by a cabinet secretary with several levels of undersecretaries • President has complete discretion to hire and fire secretaries § Vary by size and function o In addition to departments, bureaucracies can be organized in a number of different ways § Independent agencies: government organizations with narrow policy focus and independence from departments • Ex: Federal Election Commission, Social Security Administration § Government corporations: companies created and owned by Congress • Ex: postal service, Amtrak § Independent regulatory boards: organizations that regulate specific industries or services • Ex: Federal Communications Commission, Food and Drug Administration • Growth of the Federal Bureaucracy o Past: § 1989: 3 departments (state, war, treasury) with 50 total employees § 1929: share of GDP was 11% o Today: § 15 departments with a total of 2.7 million employees (not counting military) § Share of GDP exceeds 35% • The “Iron Triangle” Congressional Committees The Bureaucracy Interest Groups The Responsibilities of Congress • Congress has divided responsibilities o Policy making: responsibility of Congress to create policies that govern the US o Representation: responsibility of Congress to represent their constituents Article 1 of the Constitution • Broken into 4 parts o Sections 1-7: The Operations of Congress o Section 8: The Enumerated Powers of Congress o Section 9: The Limits of Congressional Power o Section 10: The Limits of State Power The Organization of Congress • Defining feature of Congress: it’s organization o Most clearly structured of all three political branches • Organization is based primarily on two factors: o Political party: used to determine the leadership positions of both Houses and Committees § Majority party: party with a majority of the seats in the legislative body § Minority party: all other parties o The committee system: system of small groups designed to make Congress more efficient in creating policy • The House of Representatives o 435 members, representation based on population of state o Reelected every 2 years o Speaker of House: most important person in Congress § Responsibilities: appointing members to joint and conference committees, scheduling legislation for action, referring bills to committee § Historically, a very powerful position • Most important power: the ability to schedule floor action on legislation o Majority/Minority leader § Elected by party to act as the spokesperson § Frequently work with members of government not in Congress o Majority/Minority Whip § Assist party leaders by passing information from leadership to membership § Puts pressure on members to vote as leadership believes they should • The Senate o 100 members, 2 per state o Reelected every 4 years o The president of the Senate § Constitution specifies Vice President presides over the Senate and casts tie-breaking votes • Not true in practice o President Pro Tempore: normally the longest serving member of the majority party § A ceremonial position o Majority/Minority Leader § Similar to those in the House, have the right to be recognized first in floor debate o Majority/Minority Whip § Similar to those in the House o Unlimited debate § Filibuster: continues talking because they don’t want a bill passed (can read the phone book, bible, etc.) § Way to end a filibuster: a cloture • Requires 60 votes to end the debate The Committee System • Congress does most of its work on legislation through committees o Since 1980, some 8000 bills have been introduced in Congress o Only 15% are ever voted on by all members § Most die in committee • Standing committees o Have fixed memberships and persist from one Congress to another o House of Rep: rules committee, appropriations (spending money), ways and means (raising money/taxes) o Senate: appropriations, commerce, foreign relations • Select committees o Temporary committees created to deal with specific issues § Ex: House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1976 • Joint committees o Retain membership from both houses • Conference committees o Created to make similar bills passed in both House and Senate identical


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