Lesson 6aL - Congress In carrying out their duties, they...

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Unformatted text preview: Congress In carrying out their duties, they play 3 different roles. The Legislator The lawmaker. The Communicator Keeping constituents informed and connected. Constituents = the people they represent. The The Ombudsman The mediator; problem-solver. Refers to the power to make laws. Theories of representation (or how to represent the people) Delegate theory. Do what the people would do (abide by their will) Trustee theory. Use your own judgment, b/c the people elected you (sort of ignores their will) Voting Party affiliation = best predictor (of how they will vote on a bill) Political perspective is also important. E.g., “conservative coalition” Republicans + conservative Southern Democrats. Pork Pork barreling = bills benefiting localities. bills Log Log rolling = exchanging votes as favors One should stay in communication with those One whom one represents. Use Use of the franking privilege. Some Some DO poll their constituents for their opinions. Also, Also, many letters are for answering mail. Meet-andMeet-and-greet In In districts and DC. They They maintain offices in both places. The “mediator” Solving problems between the gov’t and constituents. Private bills Introduced at constituent’s request. If If passed, applied ONLY to those named in bill. th bill Remember, passed bills become law. *Notice: Laws can be passed to help individuals, but not to punish them (which would be a bill of attainder) Why Why are Senators reelected less often than House members? members? Senators Senators are less of an ombudsman than representatives. If If you have a problem, you run to your congressperson, NOT your your senator. Voting Voting record is more well known. Easier Easier to keep track of 2 votes in most most states, or 100 votes vs. 435. Statewide Statewide constituency more diverse than individual districts. districts. It’s It’s harder to represent all of California than, e.g., East LA. 42nd = Gary Miller 44th = Ken Calvert 48th = John Campbell Key to the Communicator and Ombudsman roles. In 1994, the Legislative Branch employed 35,400. Cost = $2.6 billion (!) $2 (!) 1/3 of these were on personal staffs of members. Lead to reduction of committee staff. This is where spoils system took a hit. In Sept 2003, there were 31,500. *So there were 4,000 less jobs to hand out as rewards. Act as a gatherer and filter of information. Agenda setting “Lawmaking” Mainly, to keep up with the Executive Branch. They help by summarizing the info for the politician. Some staffers have their own agendas. So some info is passed on… and some aren’t. Staffers can suggest and draft bills. In fact, they probably do most of the work. The they The politician usually just signs off on the work (after a quick skim, of course) Tax and appropriate Regulate commerce and money Establish courts Declare war Anything “necessary and proper” Elastic Clause Power of the Purse Authority to raise and spend money. A recurring theme. Congress raised the money, so it’s theirs… and they can do whatever they want th th with it. Taxation Power to raise funds for the government. Appropriation Power to distribute funds as needed. Regulating commerce and money. Commerce clause. Regulating interstate commerce. Power to regulate foreign commerce. Trades and tariffs. Power to coin and borrow money E.g., California can’t just start printing its own money. Establishing courts. Power to set appellate authority of Supreme Court. I.e., what the Supreme Court can hear. Determines jurisdiction and structure of lower courts as well. Basically, Congress set up the fed court system. Congress Also, power to set structure and jurisdiction of Executive Branch depts and agencies. Declaring War Refers to a formal, written declaration of war. “War” is actually a very formalized process. Al Also, to raise an Army and maintain a Navy. Eclipsed by technological improvements in warfare. E.g., the Framers didn’t think to put in “Air Force” in the Constitution for obvious reasons. However, President can order troop movements in certain certain emergency situations. As a refresher: The Elastic Clause. No No authority to create new powers. I.e., enumerated powers. But Congress can act in new areas. I.e., implied powers. Approve treaties. Approve appointments. Propose Constitutional amendments. Impeach and try officials. Housekeeping. Approving treaties President negotiates treaties. SENATE approves with 2/3 vote. Framers thought Senate could see the long term, and and would be a better decision maker. The Senate is considered the “upper” house. Al Also means Senate can reject treaties (though (th rare). E.g., League of Nations (precursor to the United (p Nations). Formed after WWI, to provide an international forum for nations to settle disputes before another WW occurred. The US didn’t sign on because we didn’t have a big enough role in it. And if you’re familiar with history, the League of Nations obviously failed. Approving appointments. Presidents gets to appoint various positions. Cabinet, federal courts, ambassadors, top-level agency positions etc positions, etc. Senate approves with simple majority. As a check against Executive misconduct or mistake. Senatorial courtesy President consults with senators of a given state when appointing someone to a position in that state. E.g., if Bush is about to appoint a new federal judge to a district if di in CA, out of courtesy he should consult with Senators Boxer and Feinstein. But it IS just a courtesy, and Boxer and Feinstein are pretty hardcore and Democrats. Just a reminder of course: Proposing Constitutional Amendments 2/3 2/3 of BOTH houses must approve a proposal Of course, ¾ of states must ratify. Impeaching and trying officials. For major crimes. “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors…” House impeaches (or charges) with majority vote. Senate tries, and convicts (& removes) with 2/3 vote. and E.g., Clinton had the necessary votes in the House to be charged (impeached), but not enough in the Senate to convict and remove him. hi Housekeeping Congress polices itself. If someone is being bad, their colleagues can punish them. Expulsion of a member = 2/3 vote of that 2/3 member’s house (House or Senate) Censure Condemn Condemn with sanctions. Taking away anything tangible, like staff budget, office space, salary, etc. Basically, slap on the wrist. Member goes up front, Speaker says on record “Bad politician!” and then life goes on. Reprimand Investigation. Can study pretty much anything. Must be within scope of legislative power. Can look into anything it funds. Writ of Habeas Corpus cannot be suspended. Except in cases of rebellion or invasion. More broadly, the gov’t can’t suspend your Constitutional rights unless martial law is ordered. No bills of attainder. Or, Or, laws punishing individuals and not behavior. No ex post facto laws. Or, laws that punish people before law was passed. Bill of Rights and other Amendments. Obviously are there to restrict gov’ts power. Bicameral system (2 houses). The Senate (upper house) Represents all states equally. The House of Representatives (lower house) Proportional representation. 435 seats. Apportioned to states by population. Reapportioned every 10 pp years after census. After 2000, CA has 53 seats. States responsible for redistricting. Or, redrawing district lines. Gerrymandering = drawing lines with an advantage. Not allowed if race was the primary reason for the lines. Elections Popular elections by voters in their districts. Held every 2 years for all seats. So theoretically, the entire House could be turned inside-out. Member requirements. At least 25 years old. U.S. citizen for at least 7 years. Resident of state represented. Because you probably want the person representing you to actually live there, right? House Leaders Speaker of the House Voted by majority party. 2nd in line for President (after VP) Floor leaders Responsible for guiding their party’s programs through the House. Whips “Whips” up support. Literally, they go around saying, “Vote for this! Vote against that! Rar!” Communicates between party members and leadership. 100 seats = Every state gets 2 seats. Elections Senators have 6 year terms. 1/3 of Senate seats up every 2 years. So So it cycles, and only 1/3 of seats are at risk. and Makes the Senate more stable than the House. Member requirements. At least 30 years old. U.S. citizen for at least 9 years. Resident of state represented. Senate Leaders President of the Senate Presides over Senate Holds the tie breaking vote. th ti ► Vice President of the United States President pro tempore Also a presiding officer. Since Mr. VP is usually off busy somewhere, shooting people in the face or whatnot. Traditionally the most senior member of the majority. Senate Leaders Floor leaders – same function as in House. Majority leader is liaison between the party leadership and and Senate members. Minority leader makes sure his/her party has an impact on legislation. Gentlemen’s agreement. An informal (but binding) understanding. Usually regarding rules of procedure. These are usually debated over in the House. Or, how long the member has served. Determines… Placement Placement on committees. Some committees are more prestigious than others. Seat location in the chamber. Seniority = closer and more center. Office location. Some offices are next door, connected by a tunnel, to the Capitol Building. FYI – Congress appropriated $2mil to put a roof on the underground tram, because the rushing air messed up their hair. Some offices are clear across town. Standing committees Permanent committee, set up to deal with specific areas. Do most of the work of Congress. Most have subcommittees. Select committees Established for a limited time, to deal with specific areas. Partisan committees Have members of one party. Usually for discipline. Joint committees Have members of both houses. Conference committees Have members of both houses, to work out one version of a bill. Their specific function is to make the House and Senate versions of the bill uniform. Assignment Done by seniority. Along party lines, in rough proportion to presence of chamber. Prestige of committee and election results are major factors factors. Committee chair. Member of majority party. Usually a long-serving member. Usually from “safe districts”. Or, districts where opposing parties don’t offer a challenge. Can only be committee chair for ONE committee. Though you can be a member of several committees. Ranking minority member Bill introduced. Speaker gives it to appropriate committee. This is where most of the work is done on a bill. Also where most bills die. Committee approves bill, it gets marked-up and reported out (sent to House floor). Pl Placed on a calendar, House Rules Committee grants it it a rule. A rule determines the procedures and requirements for a bill to be approved by the House. Goes to floor for debate. Goes to vote. Each House member gets 2 minutes (usually) to state their case (if they so choose). But if you notice, they stay longer. That’s because a colleague could choose to yield their time. So there are essentially 870 minutes of debate that could go on (435 x 2). Members have 3 choices on what to do. Debate Yield Not use their time at all. After debate is over, it then goes to vote. If approved, it goes on to Senate (if the bill started in it House), or on to a conference committee (if it started in the Senate). Bill introduced; Sent to committees for marking up and reporting out. Similar to the House up until this point. Unanimous consent agreement. Majority leader negotiates with both parties to to pass (or not pass) a bill. Less formal than House. Without it, can have a filibuster. A cloture can stop a filibuster, but needs 60 filib 60 senators’ votes. Whichever way it passes, it gets forwarded onto the House or a conference committee. Note that while a bill is being debated, no other matters can be considered. Also important to note that, unlike in the House, debate time in the Senate is unlimited. If a Senator feels so strongly about the bill, they can tie up the Senate by “debating” indefinitely. And they don’t even have to debate about the bill itself. The point is to force the other side to cave, just to just get the filibustering Senator to stop. Also remember, EACH Senator gets an UNLIMITED time. Longest by a group: 75 days. Longest by an individual: 24 hours. Some have been known to start reading telephone books, dictionaries; start dancing or singing; reciting Shakespeare. Conference committees make both bills uniform. President receives bill… 3 options. Can Can sign into law. Or, can let it go for 10 days unsigned. Or, can veto bill. If Congress is in session, automatically passes. If If Congress is adjourned, becomes a pocket veto. It then gets sent back to both houses for approval of fi final version. (“Bill”… get it?) Including line item vetoes = for specific funding measures. He can cross out terms for funding. But everything else must be “all or nothing” Congress can overturn with 2/3 vote in both houses. Remember, until the President signs a bill into law, it is just a piece of paper with ink (or toner, in today’s technology age) on it. ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/14/2009 for the course POLITICAL 1 taught by Professor Nguyen during the Spring '08 term at Saddleback.

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