Chapter 11- Lawmakers and Legislatures

Chapter 11: Lawmakers and
Denison Middle
7th Grade Civics
Florida Standards
SS.7.C.3.8 Analyze the structure, function, and processes of
the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
SS.7.C.1.7 Describe how the Constitution limits the powers
of government through the separation of powers and checks
and balances.
SS.7.C.2.9 Evaluate candidates for political office by analyzing
their qualifications, experience, issue-based platforms, debates,
and political ads.
LACC.68.RH.2.4 Determine the meaning of words and
phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific
to domains related to history/social studies.
11.2: Legislators and Their Constituents
 Most legislators start out in local
 E.g.: city council
 Once they have gathered
experience, they may try for a
seat in the House of
Representatives or the Senate.
 As lawmakers move upward on
the legislative path, they serve an
ever-widening group of
constituents (people in their
home districts or states).
Formal Qualifications: Age and
Citizenship Requirements
 The Constitution established formal qualifications for
members of Congress.
 Members of both Houses (i.e.: Senate and House of
Representatives) must be residents of the state in which they
are elected.
 Members must also meet certain age and citizenship
 House members must be 25 years old and a U.S. citizen for at
least 7 years.
 Senators must be at least 30 years old and a U.S. citizen for at
least 9 years.
Informal Qualifications: Race, Gender,
Education, and Occupation
 For some 200 years Congress was made up of lawmakers
who were white, male, and middle to upper class.
 By the late 1960s, a few hundred women had won election to
their state legislatures and Congress.
 By 2006, that number had increased to more than 1,650 women
serving as state or national lawmakers
Informal Qualifications: Race, Gender,
Education, and Occupation
 In 1971, a combined total of 21
African Americans and Latinos
held seats in Congress.
 By 2007, that number had
increased to 73.
 Beyond race and gender, at least
2 other informal qualifications
still exist: education and
 Most legislators have a college
 The majority of lawmakers have a
background in business or law.
Apportionment: Achieving Equal
 The U.S. Senate has 100 seats. (50 states x 2 senators = 100 seats)
 The House of Representatives has 435 seats, with each seat
representing one congressional district.
Apportionment: Achieving Equal
 House seats are apportioned
(divided) among the states according
to each state’s population.
 Every 10 years, the U.S. Census
Bureau counts the nation’s
 The results of the census are used to
determine how seats are distributed
among the states.
 Based on the 2010 Census
apportionment, each member of
the U.S. House of Representatives
will represent an average
population of 710,767.
Apportionment: Achieving Equal
 The constitutional principle behind
apportionment is equal
representation, “one person, one
 The idea also applies to the
apportionment of seats in state
 The principle does not apply to the
U.S. Senate.
 As a result, the nation’s least
populous state, Wyoming, has as
much power in the Senate as does the
most populous state, California
 2010 U.S. Census 
California= 37,341,989
Wyoming= 568,300
How Legislators See Their Jobs:
Delegates Versus Trustees
 Legislators see themselves as fulfilling one of two distinct
roles: delegate or trustee.
 Delegates seek to represent their districts by responding directly
to the wishes or needs of their constituents.
 First-time lawmakers
 Trustees try to represent their districts by exercising their best
independent judgment.
 More experienced lawmakers
Getting Elected: Turnover and the
Power of Incumbency
 Once elected, many legislators stay in office as long as voters
keep reelecting them.
 Term limits only affect state legislators.
 In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that the terms of
members of Congress cannot be limited except by a
constitutional amendment.
Getting Elected: Turnover and the
Power of Incumbency
 Lawmakers that run for office, term after term, stand a good
chance of being reelected.
 Since 1945, representatives running for office won reelection
approximately 90% of the time.
 Around 80%of incumbent senators have won their reelection
Getting Elected: Turnover and the
Power of Incumbency
 Incumbents have four main advantages over their challengers:
Name recognition. Voters are familiar with incumbents.
Office resources. Incumbents can use benefits of their office, such as
staff, mailing privileges, and travel allowances to keep in touch with
voters in their districts.
Campaign funds. Individuals and organizations give money in larger
amounts to incumbents than to challengers.
Bragging rights. Incumbents can point to federal projects - from roads
and bridges to defense contracts - that they have won for their
These projects are known as pork, because the money for them comes from
the federal “pork barrel,” or treasury.
11.3: The Organization of Congress
 The framers of the Constitution viewed Congress as “ the
first branch of government”.
A Bicameral Legislature: The House
and Senate
 The Constitution establishes Congress as a bicameral
legislature, consisting of the House of Representatives and
the Senate.
 The framers expected the House, with its larger size and
more frequent elections, to act as the “people’s body”.
 The Senate, whose members serve longer terms and were
originally chosen by state legislatures, was meant to be a
more elite chamber that would act as a steadying influence on
Leadership Roles in the House
 Since the 1800s, Congress has based its organization on the
two major political parties.
 In each house, the majority party -the one with the most
seats- controls the agenda.
Leadership Roles in the House
 There are 3 leadership roles in the House:
Speaker of the House- Has more power and prestige then any
other leader in Congress.
Majority and minority leaders- Are elected by their respective
Nominated by the majority party but wins the position through a vote
of the entire House.
The speaker presides over the House, assigns bills to committees, and
appoints members to special committees and commissions.
Their duty is to manage legislation on the House floor.
The majority leader is the majority party’s second in command.
Majority and minority whips- assistant floor leaders are
responsible for keeping the leadership informed and persuading
party members to vote along party lines.
Leadership Roles in the Senate
 There are 5 main leadership positions in the Senate:
President of the Senate. The Constitution assigns this position to the vice
president of the U.S.
President of the Senate pro tempore. Is the most senior senator of the majority
party and may preside over Senate sessions when the vice president is not
Majority leader. Serves as the spokesperson for the party that holds the most
seats in the Senate. The majority leader must work with party members
and the minority leader to move legislation to a vote.
Minority leader. This leader helps shape minority party policy and devise
strategies for stopping majority-sponsored bills opposed by the minority
Majority and minority whips. The main duty of these assistant floor leaders is
to stand in for the majority and minority leaders.
Congressional Leadership
The Congressional Committee System
 Congress has 5 types of committees that help assist in the
lawmaking process:
Standing committees. Permanent committees that handle
most legislative business. Each standing committee has its
own broad area of responsibility, such as homeland security
of foreign affairs. Another key
duty is to gather information
through hearings and
The Congressional Committee System
Subcommittees. Do the work of reviewing all proposed
Select or special committees. Formed occasionally by both
houses to investigate specific problems. These committees are
usually temporary.
Joint committees. Permanent joint committees made up of
members of both the House and Senate. Congress has a small
number of these.
Conference Committees. It is a temporary kind of joint
committee used to iron out (work out differences) versions of a
bill passed by both the House and the Senate.
Congressional Committees
Staff and Support Agencies
 The House and Senate each employ around 1,000 committee
staffers to support the work of their various committees.
 Representatives average about 16 staffers apiece, while
senators average about 40 staff members each.
 Personal staff members perform tasks such as answering
constituents questions to writing speeches and drafting bills.
Caucuses and Coalitions
 Members of Congress have formed over 100 unofficial
groups called caucuses to peruse particular goals and
11.4: The Work of Congress
 Members of Congress have two distinct but interrelated jobs:
 they must represent their constituents in their districts or states,
 they must perform their constitutional duties as national
The Powers of Congress
 Read subsection “The Powers of Congress” (pages 212 – 213),
on section 11.4 and answer the following questions in your
notebook. (You have 5 minutes)
 According to Article I of the Constitution, what are the
specific, or enumerated, powers of Congress?
 What part of the Constitution allows Congress to
broaden its power beyond those enumerated powers?
The Powers of Congress
 Article I of the Constitution states that Congress shall have
“all legislative powers”.
What are the specific, or enumerated, powers of Congress?
The specific powers given to Congress
include the authority to:
• Levy taxes
• Borrow money
• Regulate interstate commerce
• Coin money
• Declare war
(We call all of these “enumerated
The Powers of Congress
What part of the Constitution allows Congress to
broaden its power beyond those enumerated powers?
 The Constitution authorizes Congress to “make all
Laws which shall be necessary and proper” for carrying
out those -enumerated powers-. This is known as the
Elastic Clause because it broadens Congress’s power,
allowing them to deal with future needs that could not
be anticipated when the Constitution was written.
• The only catch is that these “future needs” (deemed
as -implied powers-) must be linked to those
enumerated powers.
How Congress Checks the Other
Congress was given powers to check on the other
2 branches of government (executive and judicial
 Create a simple diagram, by using page 213, that shows
the six ways in which Congress checks the other two
branches of government. Label each check, and indicate
which other branch each check applies to.
(You have 5 minutes)
How Congress Checks the Other
 Checking powers include the following:
 Oversight. Congress oversees executive agencies.
 Confirmation. The senate must confirm, or approve, key officials
appointed to office by the president.
 Impeachment. The House of Representatives can impeach a federal
official, including the president.
 Ratification. The Senate must approve all treaties negotiated by the
president before they become law.
 Override. Congress can reverse a president’s veto of legislation.
 Amendment. Congress can propose an amendment to the Constitution.
How Congress Checks the Other
Page 213
Enacting Laws
 The checking powers of Congress also apply with the
legislative branch.
 Both houses of Congress must agree on a bill offered by the
 A bill may be introduced in either house of Congress.
 Upon introduction, they are labeled with the initials H.R. for
the House of Representatives and S. for the Senate
 Most new bills are sent to a committee, where they are
studied and reviewed.
 If it survives, it is sent back to Congress for a debate and a
Page 215
Levying Taxes
 Some of the bills that go through Congress are tax bills
 The power to tax is one of the most important powers of Congress
 Tax bills can only originate in the House Article I, Section 7
Levying Taxes
 Originally, government revenue -the money coming into the
treasury- came from taxes on imported goods.
 Today, the federal government relies largely on income taxes.
 Tax dollars fund many important government programs and
services that Americans depend on. For example:
 National highway system
 National law enforcement
 Public education
 National defense system
The Power of the Purse
 In addition to taxation, Congress has another important financial power: the
power to spend Article I, Section 9
 Appropriations are public funds allocated for a particular purpose by a
 To fund any federal project, the government needs money, and Congress must
approve this money.
Declaring War
 Congress has the power to declare war.
 As commander in chief, the president also has a
constitutional duty related to military conflicts.
 U.S. soldiers have been sent into action abroad more than
200 times (act of president).
 Congress has only officially declared war 5 times.
 The last time Congress declared
war was in 1941 when Pearl
Harbor was bombed.
Declaring War
 Congress passed the War Powers Act (1973) which requires
approval by Congress for any overseas troop deployment
lasting longer than 90 days.
 Congress can stop short of issuing a formal declaration of
war by authorizing military action by passing a joint
resolution, or an official statement from both houses of
Draw the spoke diagram below in your
notebook. Fill in each rectangle with a key
power of Congress. Include a brief explanation
for each power of Congress.
(You have 6 minutes)
Pages 214 - 216
Enacting laws: New bills are first sent
to a committee for review. If different
versions of the same bill pass the House
and Senate, a conference committee
reconciles the differences.
Levying taxes:
According to the
Constitution, tax bills
can originate only in
the House. The
federal government
relies largely on
income taxes for
Declaring war: Congress
and the president share
war-making powers, which
sometimes causes tension
between the two branches.
Power of the purse:
Congress gets its
power to spend from
the Constitution.
Congress must
appropriate money for
any federal project.
Casework: The Care and Feeding of
 Members of Congress must find time for casework, or
helping their constituents solve problems that involve the
federal government.
 Citizens often need assistance in dealing with the
complexities of federal agencies.
 For example, they may have not received their Social Security
Casework: The Care and Feeding of
 Casework is a burden for many legislators, but it is a key part
of representative government.
 Voters often reelect legislators that have listened to their
 Legislators open offices in their district with staff that answer
constituents questions.
Congressional Casework
Congressional Casework
 Create a political cartoon that shows
why casework is such an important
aspect of being an effective legislator.
11.5: How State Legislatures Compare
to Congress
 Create a Venn diagram comparing state legislatures with
Congress. Identify at least three significant similarities and at
least four important differences between the two. Be specific.
(Fill it up as we go through the presentation)
Difference s
How State Legislatures Compare to Congress
 Like Congress, state legislatures make laws and represent the
voters in each state.
 Every state except Nebraska has a bicameral legislature.
Shorter Sessions, Smaller Staff, and
Lower Pay
 In general, state legislators meet for less time, have smaller
staff members, and receive lower salaries than members of
 State legislatures can be divided into 3 types:
Citizen legislatures. Members spend about half of their time as
lawmakers. Used mainly in small population states.
Professional legislatures. Full-time lawmakers. Common in
states with larger populations.
Hybrid legislatures. A mixture of the other 2 types of
legislatures. Members spend 2/3 of their time on legislative
State Legislators
Shorter Sessions, Smaller Staff, and
Lower Pay
 Out of these 3 types, professional legislatures are the most
like Congress.
 The amount of work that the U.S. Congress does is more
 Most sessions of Congress run from January into December.
 Members of Congress spent more than 300 days a year
performing legislative duties.
 Professional state legislators an average of 9 staff assistants
each compared to 16 in the House and 40 in the Senate.
 Members of Congress receive larger salaries.
Turnover and Term Limits
 Another main difference is term limits.
 Unlike Congress, where legislators may serve an unlimited
number of terms, many states limit the number of years
legislators can remain in office.
 As of 2007, voters in 15 states had imposed term limits of
various kinds on their lawmakers.
Turnover and Term Limits
 Advocates of term limits say that turnover in a legislature is
 It eliminates career politicians who may lose touch with their
constituency (people).
 New faces, bring new ideas.
 Critics of term limits argue that term limits are undemocratic.
 It restricts the choices given to voters.
 It removes experienced lawmakers from office.
 Opponents of term limits claim that such a loss of experience can
devastate a legislature.
-Congress meet for
more time each year
than State legislatures
-In Congress,
representatives average
16 for members of the
U.S. House and 40 for
U.S. senators.
-Members of Congress
are paid significantly
more than members of
state legislatures.
-There are no term
limits for members of
-Both make
-Both represent
the voters in the
state or district.
Except for
Nebraska, both
are bicameral.
State Legislatures
-State legislatures meet
for less time each year
than Congress does.
-In state legislatures,
representatives average
from one to nine
staff members.
-Members of state
legislatures are paid
significantly less than
members of Congress.
-In many states,
legislators have term

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