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The Evolution of Congress

            not all powers too concentrated

            bicameral- two chamber

            struggles within Congress over significant issues

            centralization vs. Decentralization

            strength of political parties, in some states

     The Period of the Founding

            Congress began to assert independence

            Party caucus

     Decline of the House

            Jackson- power of the president

            nominating conventions instead of caucus

            House unified by a common, anti-South view

     The Importance of the Senate

            Senate growing in stature- foreign affairs

            legislatures, not voters

     Rise of Party control in the House

            Reward supporters

            Punish opponents

     Decentralization of the House

            Party caucus

            Rules Committee

            Chairman of standing committees

     Recent Changes in the House

            60s/70s- power of individuals

            Importance of committees and Congressional offices

     Democratization of the Senate

            “Millionaires Club”

            17th Amendment- direct election of Senators

            filibuster- prolonged speech to kill a bill

            Rule 22- cloture motion


Who is in Congress?

            White Protestant male lawyer

      Sex and Race- Small number of women, blacks and hispanics


            Around 1800- more than 50% serving their first term

            Now- average of four or more terms

      Party- members do not always vote in accordance with their party, though

Getting Elected to Congress

     Determining Fair Representation

            Malapportionment- unequal district sizes

            Gerrymandering- oddly shaped districts (to get all of a single party, etc.)

     Winning the Primary

            gather enough signatures to get on the ballot

            sophomore surge- new members quickly becoming strong

            incumbents use the benefits of their office to become reelected

            party leaders have only a weak influence

            strong ties to local concerns


The Organization of Congress:  Parties and Interests

     Party Organization of the Senate

            president pro tem chosen from majority party- often person with most seniority

            majority leader / minority leader

            whip- relates between party leaders and party members

            Democratic- Steering Committee

            Republican- Committee on Committees

            ideological and regional balance

     Party Structure of the House

            More powerful leadership than the Senate

            Speaker very important- recognizes those to speak, controls rules, etc.

     Party Voting

            Recently, very low

            Parties do not control elections

      Caucuses- associations for the advancement of a political ideology

            Democratic Study Group- liberal democrats

            Conservative Democratic Forum

            Wednesday Group- Republican, meets on Wednesdays

            State Delegations

            Specialized Caucuses


The Organization of Congress:  Committees

standing committee- permanent

select committee- temporary for a particular issue

joint committee- members of both chambers of Congress

conference committee- similar to joint committee

The Organization of Congress:  Staffs and Specialized Offices

      Tasks of Staff Members- service requests of Congressman

     Staff Agencies

            Congressional Research Service

            General Accounting Office

            Office of Technology Assessment

            Congressional Budget Office


How a Bill Becomes a Law

     Introducing a Bill

            House- drop in hopper

            Senate- be recognized by an officer

            Public- general interest

            Private- interests a certain group

            Pending legislation does not carry from one Congress to the next

            Simple resolution, Concurrent resolution, Joint resolution

     Study by Committees

            all tax bills come from the House

            multiple referral- study by more than one committee

            discharge petition- 218 members- bypass committee and bring bill to floor

            open rule- permits amendments

            Restrictive Rule- restricts amendments

     Floor Debate- The House- Quorum is 100 members

     Floor Debate- The Senate

            not as many rules as the House

            filibusters (cloture movements)

            double tracking- shelving a bill in order to move on

     Methods of Voting

            Voice vote- Aye/No

            Standing vote- all in favor stand up

            Teller Vote/Role Call- Call each name, say Aye, No, Present

            Differences between House bill and Seante bill must be resolved


How Members of Congress Vote

      Representational- in accordance with the views of constituents

      Organizational- cues by colleagues

      Attitudinal- liberal or conservative (conservative coalition)


Ethics and Congress- tends to favor those with inherited wealth

      “Senatorial courtesy”

      Divided power means divided responsibility

      Ethics Rules:  Disclosures, Honoraria, Campaign Funds, Lobbying, Gifts, Free Travel