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AP Government - Chapter 12 Study Outline

AP Government - Chapter 12 Study Outline

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I.Introduction/Congressional elections (public criticizes Congress, but do they understanddemocracy?)A. 435 in House, 100 in Senate; 2 yr. And 6 yr. Terms; 25 and 30 qualifying ages1. Safe seats2. Most incumbents win-- 97% won in 1998B. Districting and apportionmentI. The Constitution gives Congress the right to apportion representatives among thestates according population and Congress has given state legislature control over thedrawing of their respective congressional districts2. Subject to gubernatorial veto, state legislatures draw the district lines for the Houseof Representatives; the party in control of the state legislature traditionally draws thelines to enhance own political fortunes, which is called gerrymandering3. State legislatures are free to draw congressional districts as they wish, subject tosome Constitutional limitations (note effect of gerrymandering)a. Each district must be equal in population, or as equal as possible; redistrictingoccurs once a decade after each national censusb. A state legislature must not be overzealous in favoring one party at theexpense of anotherc. Although a state legislature can design congressional districts to virtuallyguarantee the election of a member of a particular minority, it must be careful notto do to in a way that focuses only on racial considerations and ignores (countylines and city boundariesI.The structures and powers of CongressA. Bicameralism most important featureI. In other countries, house has fewer powers (Britain, Germany)2. Consequences: serves to influence, allows bargainingB. Constitutional separation of powersI. Article I powers, such as borrowing money, regulating commerce; raise and supportarmies2. In impeachment, House brings charges Senate is jury (Clinton impeachment)3. Senate powers--confirm president’s nominations, consent to treatiesC. Functions of CongressI. Representation2. Law making3. Consensus building4. Overseeing the bureaucracy5. Policy clarification6. Confirming by a majority vote presidential appointees (for the Senate)7. Investigate the operation of governmentD. The House of RepresentativesI. The Speaker and other leaders (saga of Newt Gingrich; followed by Dennis Hastert)a. The Speaker is formally elected by the House yet is actually by the majorityparty; the Speaker directs business on the floor of the House, and is veryinfluentialb. The majority leader assists the Speaker by helping plan party strategy,conferring with other party leaders, and trying to keep members of the party in alinec. The minority leader steps into the speakership when his or her party gains amajority in the Housed. Whips assist each floor leader, serving as liaisons between the house leadershipof each party and the rand-and-file (Tom Delay was majority whip in 1999)2. The House Rules Committeea. Helps regulate the time of floor debate for each bill as well as limitations onfloorb. Closed rule versus open rule
c. An arm of the leadership, offers a "dress rehearsal" on procedural issuesE. The SenateI. A smaller body, more informal, and more time for debate,2. The president of the Senate (the vice-president of the United States) has littleinfluences, can vote only in case of tie and is seldom consulted in decision-making3. President pro tempore is elected from among the majority party, and is official chairin the absence of the Vice-president4. Party machinery includes party caucuses (conferences), majority and minority floorleaders, and party whips (Majority leader in 1999 was Trent Lott)5. Each party has a policy committee, which is responsible for the party’s overalllegislative program6. Political environmenta. Senators have more diverse policy interest than do members of the House,serve on more committees, more likely to wield power in their state partiesb. The Senate is more open, fluid, and decentralized body now than it used to bec. Practice of "hold" now a tactic to kill a bill7. The filibustera. Used to delay Senate proceedings in order to delay or prevent a vote (SenatorD’Amato)b. Cloture votes may the filibuster (16 signatures, three-fifths Vote, 1 hour persenator)8. The power to confirma. The Senate has the constitutional power to confirm presidential appointmentsto such positions as the cabinet, US Supreme Court and other federal courts, allambassadorial positions, and many executive branch positions, serving as animportant check executive powerb. By a tradition called senatorial courtesy, the president confers with thesenator(s) from the state where an appointee is to workc. Note difference between judicial and administrative appointmentsd. Divided government has more often led to prolonged confirmation hearingsIII. The job of legislatorA. Congress as a place to workI. The working center of our nation’s legislative process2. Congressional staffs are 10 percent smaller than they were in the early 1990sB. Legislators as representativesI. Congress is both a law-making institution and a representative assembly2. Legislator’s role as delegate vs. trusteeC. Legislators as lawmakersI. Policy and philosophical convictionsa. On controversial issues, knowing the general philosophical leanings of individualmembers provides a helpful guide both to how they make up their minds and howthey will vote2. Votersa. Members hear most often from the attentive public rather than the generalpublic; still, members of Congress are generally concerned about how they willexplain their votes, especially around election day3. Colleaguesa. Legislators look to respected members of the committee who worked on a billb. For some legislators, the ___________ reinforces a common identityc. A member may vote with a colleague with the expectation that the colleaguewill later vote for a measure about which the member is concerned is called logrolling4. Congressional staff a. Staffers draft bills, conduct research, and do much of the legislative negotiatingand coalition building, often influencing legislative decisions5. Party
a. Partisan voting has increased; party differences are stronger over domestic,regulatory and welfare reform than over foreign policy or civil liberty issuesb. Very strong partisan differences in Clinton’s impeachment __% each way)6. Interest groupsa. In addition to their roles as financers of elections, they provide informationb. They can mobilize grass-roots activists to lobby Congress7. The presidenta. Presidents are partners in the legislative processb. Presidents, on key votes, usually win needed majority support more than half the timec. Presidents and executive branch officials influence how legislators vote,particularly on foreign policy or national security issuesIV. The legislative obstacle courseA. How a bill becomes law1. Congress operates under a system multiple vetoes; in each chamber power isfragmented and influence is decentralized2. After introduction, bill is referred to appropriate standing committee3. 90% of bills die in subcommittee4. Importance of hearings, mark-up and riders (increasing number added tospending bills)5. Conference committee reconciles different versions of bill6. Bill passes both houses, president can veto or sign; pocket veto possible7. If vetoed, Congress can override two-thirds vote. (hard to achieve)B. Authorization and appropriationI. After Congress and the president authorize a program, Congress, with thepresident’s concurrence, has to appropriate the funds to implement it2. Appropriations are processed by the House and Senate AppropriationsCommittees and their subcommitteesC. The importance of compromiseI. One decision is whether to push for action in the Senate first, in the House first,or in both2. Another decision concerns the committee to which the bill is assigned3. Getting the bill through Congress requires that majorities be mobilized over &over againV. Committees: the little legislaturesA. Types of committeesI. Joint committees2. Select committees.3. Standing committees (exclusive, major, non-major)B. Choosing committee members (House members rarely serve on more than 3)I. In the House of Representatives, a Committee on Committees of the Republicanmembership allots places to Republican members; on the Democratic side,assignment to committees is handled by the Steering & Policy Committee of theDemocratic caucus in negotiation with senior Democrats from the statedelegations2. In the Senate, each party has a small Steering Committee that makescommittee assignmentsC. Seniority RuleI. The practice of elevating the senior member of a committee to serve ascommittee chair remains the general rule (encourages retention, promotesexpertise, and reduces interpersonal politics)D. Investigations and oversightI. Congress conducts investigations to determine if legislation is needed, to gatherfacts relevant to legislation, to assess the efficiency of executive agencies, to buildpublic support, to expose corruption, and to enhance the image or reputation of itsmembers

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