Congress, I: Structure and Behavior
Key terms: constituency service, committees, party differences in voting, patterns of leadership, Speaker of the House, Senate
Majority Leader, Trent Lott
II. The workings of Congress
III. Change after 1994?
American system designed not to work very well. People will fight, reason for senate and House, disagreement
Representation in congress is geographical. We have single-member district. Each member in Congress looks back at state or
districts, their constituency.
In house 435, district
Wyoming has one
Texas has 32 districts
In Senate, each state has 2 senators.
Entire House is up for election every 2 years.
Senate- serves term for 6 yrs. 1/3 of Senate up for election every 2 yrs.
Members of congress don’t really think of themselves as representing the u.s. They represent the people in their district. They
think “what can I do for the people in my district?”
Constituency service-they perform favors for the people in their districts or state
House representatives put 1/3 of their time helping people in their districts. Members put a lot of time and
effort to helping their people to get support.
Only have constituency service because the country is divided into districts
Members are constantly attempting to get policies and laws for the benefit of their people and state.
Congress is organized to help members help their districts.
Committees- working sub-groups in Congress specialized by function (agriculture committees, etc)
22 standing committees in the house and 20 committees in the senate
More than 100 subcommittees in Congress
Structurally, Congress is fragmented on many terms of organizations. Law making is parceled out to committees and
subcommittees. The Rules Committee in the House controls the agenda. No Rules Committee in the Senate. Law
making can be more chaotic in the senate because of no rules.
centralized power in the parties
If there is no party discipline, do people vote at random or is their distinction between democratic and republic
votes? Yes. Republicans and democrats tend to vote together but not
Americans for Democratic Action- paradigmatic liberals; rate the voting of the members of Congress. Numeric
liberal ADA score
2000, republicans had a score of 7, democrats had 85
2003- rep, 13
2006: rep, 19 & dem,
Even though there is no party discipline, party members tend to vote together on the average. If there were party
disciplines, the ADA scores would be 0 and 100
The president has very little structural leadership. “All presidential power amounts to is the power to persuade.” He
can’t say, “do this.”
Speaker of the House- most powerful person in Congress and the 2
powerful person in Washington.