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1UCLA Department of Political Science Fall 2007 PS 40 Introduction to American Politics Prof. Thomas Schwartz Hunk 6 The Constitution in Detail, With AmendmentsNow let us look at the U.S. Constitution as a whole, amendments included. PreambleThe sourceof the Preamble’s wording is believed to be the Iroquois Treaty of Union(1537). John Routledge apparently wrote it down while attending a lecture by a delegation of Iroquois leaders on their remarkable system. The Preamble of that treaty begins: “We the people to form a union, to establish peace, equity and order…” Note that in both documents the people—not the several tribes or states—are the source of authority. Article I—Congress StructureCongress has two houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The members of the Houseare popularly elected for two-year terms. A short term ensures responsiveness to the people. The House can initiate revenue (tax) bills and can impeach (accuse of a crime) officials appointed by the executive. Until the 17thAmendment (1913), senatorswere elected by state legislatures. Senators serve six-year terms. Those terms are staggeredso that a third face reelection every two years. These longer terms, staggered terms, and larger constituencies make the Senate less sensitive than the House to popular whims and passions. Its small size makes it more deliberate than the House - - better able to debate and discuss legislative details.
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