Exam 2 Lecture Notes

Exam 2 Lecture Notes - Wednesday,February18,2009 I II III...

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009 I. The Electoral Logic of Congressional Members a. Electoral logic induces members to promote narrowly targeted programs, projects, or tax breaks for constituents without worrying about the impacts of such measures on spending or revenues b. Manifested in logrolling: the legislative practice in which members of Congress agree to reciprocally support each other’s vote – gaining projects or tax breaks II. Organizing Congress a. The two most crucial institutional structures created to exercise Congress’s constitutional powers are i. The Party System ii. The Committee System b. Without them it would be difficult to overcome the barriers to effective collective action i. Party solves the prisoner’s dilemma ii. Committees solve coordination problem III. The Parties a. Decisions in the House are made generally by majority vote b. Senate requires 60 votes to pass major legislation c. Reality creates powerful incentives for members of Congress to both join and maintain durable coalitions (political parties) d. Tend to arise when people realize that it is in their best interests to cooperate despite their disagreements i. Prisoner’s Dilemma IV. Party Organization a. The majority party in the House is lead by the Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi), whose chief assistants are the majority leader (Steny Hoyer) and the majority whip (James Clyburn) b. The minority party has a minority leader (or Republican leader – John Boehner) and party whips to lead them (Eric Cantor) V. Parties and Party Leaders in the Senate a. Under the Constitution, the vice president is the presiding officer of the Senate (Joe Biden) b. Designated president pro tempore presides when the vice president is absent (Robert Byrd) c. Not until the 19 th century that senators delegated some authority to party leaders. The positions of majority leader and minority leader were not formalized until 1913 (Reid
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and McConnell) VI. Standing Committees a. The standing committees of the House and the Senate – those that exist from one Congress to the next unless disbanded – embody Congress’s division of legislative labor b. Standing committees have fixed jurisdictions and stable memberships, which facilitates specialization c. Committees are run by the chairs i. Chairs are always from the majority party VII. Making Laws a. Congress’s rules and structures – the parties and committee systems – are designed to enable majorities to make laws b. The lawmaking process, however, presents opponents of a bill with many opportunities to sidetrack or kill legislation VIII. Introducing Legislation a. Only members may submit legislation to the House or Senate b. After a bill is introduced, it is assigned a number and referred to a committee i. Once a bill has been referred to a committee, the most common thing that happens next is NOTHING c. If a committee decides on further action, the bill may be taken up directly by the full committee, but more commonly it is referred to the appropriate subcommittee d.
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