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L8 Congress _ The Presidency

L8 Congress _ The Presidency - Congress and the Presidency...

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Congress and the Presidency Lecture 8 February 1, 2008 Pol 1101
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The Roots of the Legislative Branch Congress was modeled after the bicameral (= two house) British Parliament Big difference: the US Senate is probably the most powerful upper house in any national legislature and has unique powers to ratify treaties and approve presidential nominees Congress means “coming together.” Congress is the primary means of both representation and governance in American politics, and the key institution by which the people exert their influence in government The challenge: America is a diverse society, and the Congress must act while balancing the demands of governing and representing that diversity
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The Legislative Branch and its members Members of each body are elected differently, and represent different constituencies The constitution requires seats in the House of Representatives to be apportioned by population – after every census, district lines must be redrawn to reflect population shifts Members of Congress live in two worlds – their home districts and the District of Columbia. Members, especially in the House, never stop running for office, hence the importance of casework Incumbency is an important factor in winning reelection – hence the calls for term limits
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How Congress is Organized Political parties play a major role The Speaker of the House is always a member of the majority party, and members of the majority party chair all committees. The Speaker enforces more rigid control on the House than exists in the Senate Congress has a labyrinth of committees and subcommittees that cover the entire range of government policies, often with overlapping responsibilities Each legislator serves on one of more committees and multiple subcommittees
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The Lawmaking Function of Congress The road to enacting a bill is long and full of obstacles: only a few of the proposals introduced become law Legislation must be approved by committees in each house and on the floor of each chamber. Also, most House legislation is initially considered by a subcommittee, then needs approval from the Rules Committee before going to the floor Legislation passed in different forms by the two chambers must be resolved in conference before going back to each chamber for a vote
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