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chapter13 - CHAPTER 13 Congress 0OBJECTIVES The purpose of...

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Chapter 13: Congress CHAPTER 13 Congress OBJECTIVES The purpose of this chapter is to describe the roles and organization of Congress. After reading and reviewing the material in this chapter, the student should be able to do each of the following: 1. Explain the differences between a congress and a parliament and delineate the role that the Framers expected the United States Congress to play. 2. Pinpoint the significant eras in the evolution of Congress. 3. Describe the characteristics of members of Congress and the factors that influence who gets elected to Congress. 4. Identify the functions that party affiliation plays in the organization of Congress. 5. Describe the formal process by which a bill becomes a law. 6. Identify the factors that help to explain why a member of Congress votes as he or she does. OVERVIEW Over the last fifty years or so, Congress, especially the House, has evolved through three stages. The Congress is presently an uneasy combination of stages two and three. During the first stage, which lasted from the end of World War I until the early 1960s, the House was dominated by powerful committee chairs who controlled the agenda, decided which members would get what services for their constituents, and tended to follow the leadership of the Speaker. Newer members were expected to be seen but not heard; power and prominence came only after a long apprenticeship. Congressional staffs were small, and members dealt with each other face to face. In dealing with other members, it helped to have a southern accent: half of all committee chairs, in both the House and the Senate, were from the South. Not many laws were passed over their objections. The second stage emerged in the early 1970s, in part as the result of trends already under way and in part as the result of changes in procedures and organization brought about by younger, especially northern, members. (As an example of continuing trends, consider the steady growth in the number of staffers assigned to each member.) Dissatisfied with southern resistance to civil rights bills and emboldened by a sharp increase in the number of liberals who had been elected in the Johnson landslide of 1964, the House Democratic caucus adopted rules that allowed the caucus to do the following: select committee chairs without regard to seniority; increase the number and staffs of subcommittees; authorize individual committee members (instead of just the committee chair) to choose the subcommittee chairs; end the ability of chairs to refuse to call meetings; and make it much harder to close meetings to the public.
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Chapter 13: Congress Also, the installation of electronic voting made it easier to require recorded votes, so there was a sharp rise in the number of times each member had to go on record. The Rules Committee was instructed to issue more rules that would allow floor amendments.
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