Chapter 11

Chapter 11 - Chapter 11: Congress I. Congress: the...

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Chapter 11: Congress I. Congress: the "first branch" A. This branch has considerable power B. Many consider this branch to be the one most badly in need of repair C. The puzzles, processes and actions of this branch say a great deal about America's representative democracy II. Congress versus Parliament A. Parliamentary candidates are selected by party 1. Members of Parliament select prime minister and other leaders 2. Party members vote together on most issues 3. Renomination depends on loyalty to party 4. Principal work is debating national issues 5. Very little power, very little pay B. Congressional candidates run in a primary election, with little party control 1. Vote is for the man or woman, not the party 2. Result is a body of independent representatives 3. Members do not choose the president 4. Principal work is representation and action 5. Great deal of power, high pay; parties cannot discipline members C. Congress a decentralized institution 1. Members more concerned with their views and views of their constituents 2. Members less concerned with organized parties and program proposals of president D. Congress can be unpopular with voters III. The evolution of Congress A. Intent of the Framers 1. To oppose concentration of power in a single institution 2. To balance large and small states: bicameralism B. Traditional criticism: Congress is too slow 1. Centralization needed for quick and decisive action 2. Decentralization needed if congressional constituency interests are to be dominant C. Development of the House 1. Always powerful but varied in organization and leadership a. Powerful Speakers b. Powerful committee chairmen c. Powerful individual members 2. Ongoing dilemmas a. Increases in size have lead to the need for centralization and less individual influence b. Desire for individual influence has led to institutional weakness D. Development of the Senate 1. Structural advantages over the House a. Small enough to be run without giving authority to small group of leaders b. Interests more carefully balanced c. No time limits on speakers or committee control of debate d. Senators not elected by voters until this century 1. Chosen by state legislators 2. Often leaders of local party organizations 2. Major changes a. Demand for direct popular election 1. Intense political maneuvering and the Millionaire's Club 2. Senate opposition and the threat of a constitutional convention 3. 17th Amendment approved in 1913 b. Filibuster restricted by Rule 22 - though tradition of unlimited debate remains IV. Who is in Congress? A. The beliefs and interests of members of Congress can affect policy B. Sex and race 1. House has become less male and less white 2. Senate has been slower to change, but several blacks and Hispanics hold powerful positions C. Incumbency 1. Low turnover rates and safe districts common in Congress before 1980s 2. Incumbents increasingly viewed as professional politicians and out of touch with the people by the 1980s 3. Call for term limits; however, natural forces were doing what term limits were designed to do by the mid-1990s
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4. Influx of new members should not distort incumbents' advantage
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Chapter 11 - Chapter 11: Congress I. Congress: the...

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