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Congress

Historical Background
The structure is a product of Compromise
Intended to be the Dominant Branch

More Basics of Congress


Public Confidence Matters
We generally like our own representative (unless they
screw up somehow)
But not leadership or the whole body
Seniority Matters
Most (But Not All) Voting On Partisan Lines

Primary Functions
Policy & Lawmaking
It is not easy to pass legislation.

Representation
What interest should congress-people represent?
Staff help support work done by Senator/Representative

Oversight
Check on the Bureaucracy and Executive

How Does a Bill Become a Law


Draft a Bill
Introduce Bill on Floor
Committee Referral
Committee & Subcommittee Stage
The Rule (House Only)
Floor Debate
Vote
Send to the Other Side & Repeat
Conference Committee (if needed)
Presidential Signature/Veto
Override Vote (if needed)

House of Representatives
Apportioned Based on Population with Minimum of 1 Per
State For 2 Year Terms
Specific Power of The House
Impeachment
Revenue Bills
Rules Quirks
Committees
Debate Timing
Gerrymandering

House Leadership
Speaker of the House (GOP Control 246-188)
Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Ranking Majority Party Member
Recognize Floor Speakers, Assign Bills, Member
Appointment, Schedule Control
Majority & Minority Leader (114th Congress)
GOP: Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
Dems: Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Whips
Get Party Members to Follow Party Lines
GOP: Steve Scalise (R-LA)
Dems: Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

Senate
Appointed 2 Per State For 6-Year Terms
Specific Powers
Presidential Appointment Approval/Rejection
Executive Department Heads, Ambassadors, Judges
Treaties
Impeachment Trial

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Rules Quirks
No Strict Debate Rules
Filibusters
Cloture Rules

Senate Leadership
President of The Senate: Vice President Biden
Breaks Ties
Majority & Minority Leader (GOP Control 54-44-2- Both
Caucus with Dems)
Majority Leader Sets Agenda
GOP: Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Dems: Harry Reid (D-NV)
Whips
GOP: John Cornyn (R-TX)
Dems: Richard Durbin (D-IL)
President Pro-Tempore (Orrin Hatch, R-UT)
Most Senior Majority Party Member

Committee System
Types
Standing: 19 House, 16 Senate, Permanent Issue
Select: Limited Purpose
Joint: Both House and Senate Compromise
Jurisdiction
Power
Most Important work happens in Committees
Effects on Floor Votes
Partisanship
Majority of Committee Members in Majority Party
Membership Selected by Party Leadership

Policymaking
Why does Congress rarely make broad policies with
National Focus?

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Congressmen are especially responsive to organized
local interest
Oversight of Bureaucracy
Pork Barrel
Reciprocity & Deference

Congressional Elections
Focus: All Politics is Local
Incumbency Advantage
Money!!!
Franking Privilege
Pork
Service Strategy
Staff
Safe Seats
Opposition, or lack there of
Effect on Democracy
What about policy achievements
Some Incumbents Lose
Troublesome issues
Personal Misconduct
Mid-term Election Factors
Strong Challengers
Redistricting
Coat Tails

Election Reform?
Term Limits
Limit Gerrymandering on Partisan Lines
Line-item Vote
Enlarge Congress

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