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11 Congress - PS 110 1 Functional Structure of Congress...

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PS 110 11: Congress 11-1 1. Functional Structure of Congress A—Legislative Process lawmaking function : main function of Congress as holding authority to make the laws necessary to carry out the powers granted to the national government a. powers expressly outlined in Article I, § 8 b. policymaking leadership: i. limitations to act due to fragmentation (intentionally created by the Framers to provide for a “sober second thought,” preventing the government from rushing into action): Congress is limited to lead on national policy in some areas due to the fragmentation of leadership, with each representative and senator having different interests from their districts and states the president is better suited to tackle national issues, such as foreign and military policy, since they have singular and national authority ii. certain issues and times where Congress leads the way on policy: Congress leads on specific issues—labor, environmental, education, urban development after particular elections, Congress can come in with its own agenda (i.e. Republicans with the “Contract with America” on winning the 1994 midterm elections, and the Democrats “First Hundred Hours Reform” after the 2006 election) bill : proposed legislative act 1. Committees in Legislative Process a. introduction of bills: i. bills can only be introduced by representatives or senators ii. however, the president, executive staff, and lobbyists often draft legislation to be introduced by ally representatives or senators b. standing committee : permanent committees with responsibility for oversight in and consideration of bills concerning a particular area of public policy i. allocation of bills to be considered: jurisdiction : the policy areas in which a committee is authorized to act 1946 Legislative Reorganization Act : law requiring that each bill must be referred to the proper committee (had been referred to committee likely to be most favorable or unfavorable) ii. committees send bills to subcommittees; if the subcommittee recommends it, the committee will consider it example: a bill on aid to Vietnam would be sent to the Foreign Relations Committee and then to the East Asia subcommittee for consideration subcommittees and the full committee often schedule hearings in which experts testify on the issues involved in the bill, either in support or against 2. Consideration in Congress a. party leadership in both houses: i. majority leaders set the agenda for debate—often trying to schedule bills according to
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their desire for them to pass or fail Speaker of the House : elected leader of the House of Representatives, who sets the agenda and manages debate; since an elected position, the leader of the majority party is usually elected to the post by the members of their party leadership in the Senate: (1) officially, the Vice-President is the President of the Senate, but most VPs don’t preside unless they can break a tie in the Senate (the only circumstance where they can vote) (2)
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