Poly Sci Chap 6 - Congress in the Constitution The basic...

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Congress in the Constitution The basic structure of Congress is the product of the Great Compromise at the Constitutional Convention. The Framers created a bicameral legislature with distinct features of each chamber being designed to resolve the conflict. A House of Representatives, with seats allocated by population and members elected by the citizenry and A Senate, composed of two members from each state chosen by the state legislature.
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The Compromise The institutional structure resolved the conflict of large versus small states. A two-year term for the House was a compromise between the annual elections advocated by many delegates and the three-year term proposed by James Madison. A short tenure would keep this chamber close to the people. The Senate would be more insulated from momentary shifts in the public mood by virtue of a longer term (in addition to their selection by state legislatures).
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Qualification Differences Qualifications for office also reflected the Framers’ concept of the Senate as the more “mature” of the two chambers. The minimum age for the House members was set at twenty-five years, whereas it was set at thirty for the Senate. House members were required to be citizens for at least seven years, whereas for senators it was nine years. Both were required to reside in the state they represented.
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Powers of Congress The Constitution established a truly national government by giving Congress broad powers over crucial economic matters. Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution sets out the enumerated powers of Congress Necessary and Proper Clause This clause has provided the single most extensive grant of power in the Constitution, giving Congress authority over many different spheres of public policy.
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Other Areas of Congressional Authority Congress was given significant authority in foreign affairs as well. Only Congress may declare war, raise and finance an army and navy, and call out the state militias. The Senate was granted some special powers over foreign relations. In its “advise and consent” capacity, the Senate ratifies treaties and confirms presidential appointments. Approves presidential appointments to the Supreme Court and top executive branch positions.
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Single-Member Districts/ Plurality Winners Under a proportional system a party wins a share of seats in the legislature matching the share of votes it wins on election day. Voters choose among parties, not individual candidates, and candidates need not have a local connection. Members of Congress are elected from states and congressional districts by plurality vote -- that is, whoever gets the most votes wins.
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