Ch.7 - What Does Congress Look Like? Congress is older,...

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What Does Congress Look Like? Congress is older, better educated, whiter, and richer than most of us. However, great strides have been made. Both California and both Maine senators are women. In the 108th Congress, there are 77 women (60 in the House plus 3 nonvoting delegates and 14 in the Senate), 39 African Americans in the House, 25 Latinos in the House, and 5 Asian Americans in Congress (2 senators and 3 House members). There is one American Indian in each house of Congress. The Representational Role of Members of Congress There are a number of ways in which an elected official can represent his/her constituents. The book presents three theories of representation: Trustee—representatives use their own best judgment; Delegate— representatives vote the way their constituents want them to; Politico—representatives act as trustee or delegate depending on the issue. The question of representation is very complex. Can a man represent a woman? Can a white person adequately represent the views of a black person? There are many such questions and no easy answers. Obviously, people bring to DC their beliefs, culture, and experiences so diversity in Congress should lead to differences over time in legislation. But it is unclear exactly what the effects are. How Congress is Organized Every two years, a new Congress is seated. The first order of business is the election of leaders and adoption of new rules. Both houses of Congress are organized on the basis of party for both leadership and committee purposes. The House of Representatives. The Speaker of the House . The Speaker is the only House officer mentioned in the Constitution. The Speaker is elected at the beginning of each new session of Congress by the entire House. The Speaker and all committee chairs are members of the majority party in Congress (this is not a rule, but a political fact). The Speaker in the 108th Congress is Dennis Hastert (R-IL). Generally a Speaker serves until he/she leaves the House, chooses to step down, or if his/her party loses the majority. The Speaker presides over the House, oversees House business, is the official spokesperson for the House and is second in line of presidential succession (if the president and VP both died, the Speaker would become president). The Speaker is expected to be a liaison with the president and promote his/her parties' legislation through the Congress. Other House Leaders . Other House leaders are elected by their own parties in party caucuses. Majority leader—second most important person in the House. Majority whip(s)—maintain contacts and rally support on the floor among the majority party. Minority leader—leader of the minority party. Minority whip(s)—maintain contacts and rally support among minority party members. In 2002, the first woman was elected minority whip, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) The Senate . The presiding officer of the Senate, according to the Constitution, is the Vice President of the United States. He is not a member of the Senate and can only vote in
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Ch.7 - What Does Congress Look Like? Congress is older,...

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