Lesson 22

Report
AMERICAN
GOVERNMENT
UNIT 4
LESSON 22
PAGES 151-160
How does Congress perform its functions in the American
Constitutional System?
• Objective: Describe the role of rules, committees, and
political parties in the organization and operation of
Congress. Describe the process through which proposed
legislation becomes law. Identify the primary sources on
which members of Congress rely for information in the
lawmaking process and to explain the importance of
Congress’s inherent power to investigate. Explain the
importance of compromise in the deliberative process.
How do committees and rules help
Congress do its work?
• Committees:
• Both the House and the Senate have standing committees.
Each committee has jurisdiction over a particular subject
and appoints subcommittees to examine proposals within
specific areas.
• House committees & subcommittees:
• Hold public hearings to receive testimony from individuals and
groups about specific proposals and subjects.
How do committees and rules help
Congress do its work?
• Oversight hearings also may be held where members of
administrative agencies are called into testify as to how
they carry out laws enacted by Congress.
• There are also select committees and task forces
• Specific assignments
• Exist for a limited time
How do committees and rules help
Congress do its work?
• Rules: House rules adopted by each Congress
specifies the size of committees and specifies the
jurisdiction of each committee.
• House jurisdiction: specific kinds of draft proposals for
legislation (BILLS) such as:
•
•
•
•
•
Education
Energy
Defense
Etc…
**Each are handled by a specific committee
How do committees and rules help
Congress do its work?
• House Rules: Limits on the number of members on
committees and subcommittees.
• How many committees a member of Congress can serve on.
• Term limits for chairpersons.
• Form and structure of debates on the floor
• House: For important bills the Rules Committee of the House,
which is controlled by the majority party, creates “special
rules”.
How do committees and rules help
Congress do its work?
• Senate also operates according to rules.
• Rules are more informal than in the House
• Use filibuster to prevent a vote on a proposal
• *filibuster- refusing to surrender the floor during a debate
• Huey P. Long, LA (recipes, Shakespeare)
• Strom Thrumond, SC (24 hrs, 18mins)
• 1917: vote of 60 members to cut off a debate- a cloture
vote, and thus bring a vote by the full Senate.
How do committees and rules help
Congress do its work?
• Political parties: have organization and leaders within
Congress.
• Job- encourage members to adhere to party policy and
platforms. (usually a stronger influence in the House
rather than the Senate)
• Committee chairs are appointed not only according to
seniority, but on the basis of party loyalty.
• Chairs of committees are limited to 3 two-year terms.
Who leads the House and the Senate?
House of Representatives:
• 1. Strong institutional speakers:
• Speaker of the House- very powerful political figure in the
country.
• Tight control over the organization and legislative agenda
of the House.
• Controls committee appointments and chairs the Rules
Committee.
• Decides which bills will come to the floor and what the rules
of debate will be
• Current: John Boehner (R)
Who leads the House and the Senate?
• 2. Decentralized committee leadership:
• Sometimes leadership in the House is decentralized.
• Members can become discontented with centralized
power located in the Speaker of the House and allocate
that leadership power to committee chairpersons instead.
• During these times, chairs are frequently selected on the
basis of seniority.
Who leads the House and the Senate?
• 3. Political Party Control:
• House leadership is a strong speaker who represents the
majority party.
• Sometimes when a Speaker of the House is a particularly
strong political figure and focuses mainly on his/her party
agenda committee chairs will be appointed based on
party loyalty rather than on seniority.
Who leads the House and the Senate?
Senate:
• Vice President- per the Constitution is the President
of the Senate.
• Not a member of the Senate
• Often not a member of the majority party
• Casts tie breaking votes when needed.
Who leads the House and the Senate?
• In absence of the Vice President the person in
charge is elected by the Senate.
• Called the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
• NOT a formal position. Traditional role, not
mentioned in the Constitution.
What roles do majority rule and compromise play
in congressional deliberations?
• Enacting a law is complicated and difficult.
• Only one in ten proposed laws survive the process
of Congress.
• Many times members will cosponsor bills to give
them more weight.
• Bill, Resolution, Joint Resolution, Concurrent
Resolution.
What roles do majority rule and compromise play
in congressional deliberations?
Legislation:
1. Bill can be introduced in either or both chambers.
(Revenue bills can only be introduced in the
House via the Constitution).
2. Bill or joint resolution assigned a number:
• Prefix “H” if introduced in the HOUSE.
• Prefix “S” if introduced in the SENATE.
What roles do majority rule and compromise play
in congressional deliberations?
3. Committee Assignment:
•
Committee chair usually refers bills to subcommittees.
• Rigorous scrutiny occurs
• Sponsors must agree to compromises in the form of
amendments to the bill
4. Hearings:
• Committees schedule hearings:
• Usually open to the public
• Often announced in newspapers, etc.
• Expert testimonies, interest groups, governmental organizations
What roles do majority rule and compromise play
in congressional deliberations?
5. Deliberations:
• Mark-up sessions in which the committee members review
the bill:
• Modify
• Approve final version
• Recommend to full House or Senate
• If the bill is assigned to more than one committee or is
significantly amended it is not likely to service this process.
What roles do majority rule and compromise play
in congressional deliberations?
• Report:
• If bill wins favorable committee vote it is reported to the full
chamber
• It is accompanied w/ a report explaining why the
committee acted as it did (always open to the public)
• Floor Vote:
• Places on a calendar
• Voted by full House or Senate
What roles do majority rule and compromise play
in congressional deliberations?
• Referred to Other Chamber:
• House to Senate OR Senate to House
• Process begins again
• Other chamber may defeat, amend or approve without
amendments.
• Conference Committee:
• Few bill emerge without being amended.
• When House or Senate bills differ a conference committee,
composed of members from both chambers usually is
appointed to try and reach a compromise.
• Agreement- submits it for a vote by both chambers
What roles do majority rule and compromise play
in congressional deliberations?
• Referred to the President:
• Once approved by both chambers it is sent to the President
for action.
• Signs- becomes law.
• Vetoed- will only pass if it is passed again by a 2/3 majority of
those present in each chamber.
• If the President does not sign the bill in 10 days and Congress
adjourns, the bill is dead– pocket veto.
What roles do majority rule and compromise play
in congressional deliberations?
• A bill must win majority support at every stage.
• Bill must be acceptable to those who manage the
process
• Members who submitted the bill must be present
and willing to compromise.
• By the time a proposal becomes a law, many
groups and individuals have scrutinizes and
debated it.
• Law-making process demonstrates:
• Representative government
• Limited government
• Checks and balances
Where do members of Congress get ideas for legislation
and information in deciding which bills to support?
• Members initiate legislation based on:
•
•
•
•
Campaign promises
Responses to problems and crises
Their own analysis of need
Request of others
• Library of Congress helps in research
• Congressional Budget office- analysis of budget and cost of
project.
Where do members of Congress get ideas for legislation
and information in deciding which bills to support?
• Additional Sources requesting legislation:
• Executive branch
• State of the Union
• Executive Departments
• Constituents
• Interest Groups
• lobbyists
How does Congress use its power to investigate?
• Inherent Power– Purpose of investigating:
•
•
•
•
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Finding facts to base legislation
Discovering or influencing public opinion
Overseeing administrative agencies
Probing questionable activities of public officials
Securing partisan political gain
• Examples:
• Labor practices in the 1930s
• Examine explosion of the Challenger in 1986
• Terrorist attacks in 2001
How does Congress use its power to
investigate?
• Investigative power to impeach:
• Investigate and bring charges against a public official for a
crime or other misdemeanor.
• Only 2 Presidents have been impeached. Both were acquitted:
• Andrew Johnson (1868)
• Bill Clinton (1998)
• Sect. or War – William Blount - acquitted
• Federal judges- 13
• Threat of Impeachment is powerful:
• Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 under threat.
FINISHING UP!
Reflect
Work on Projects

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