Flashcards in Congress Deck (27):
Where are the enumerated powers of Congress in the constitution
Article 1, Section 8
Describe the H.O.R.
H.O.R. are elected every two years
H.O.R. has 435 members
States are represented proportionally to population
Tend to be more partisan and therefore can exhibit a strong sense of mandate
Decisions are based on simple majorities
What powers do the House of Representatives (H.O.R.) have?
Initiate money bills (deciding how to spend money)
Impeach members of the executive and judicial branches
Elect the president if deadlock in Electoral College
Senators are elected every 6 years
Senate has 100 members and senate states are represented equally. (every state has two members)
They are more likely to gain leadership position
Less dominated by party
What concurrent powers do the House of Representatives and Senate have?
Can initiate constitutional amendments (it must be approved by 2/3 majority in both houses before sent to states for ratification)
Conduct investigations of the executive branch
must vote by 2/3 majority to override presidential veto
Must agree on declarations of war e.g. In 1941
Confirm a newly appointed Vice President
What powers do senate have?
Ratify all treaties negotiated by President. (2/3 majority required)
Confirm nominations to the executive and judicial branches by the president with a required simple majority
Try cases of impeachment 2/3 majority required to convict and remove office holders
Elect the Vice President if there's no overall majority in the Electoral College
Are both chambers equal in power?
Both chambers can override presidential agenda/legislation
Both chambers can declare wars
Both chambers have equal power in constitutional amendments
What house is more powerful?
Senate is seen as more powerful and prestigious:
They represent a state rather than a district
They have longer terms (6 year)
A smaller group so they are likely to have more influence (Senates are more likely to be known state/nationwide)
They also enjoy more exclusive powers
Members of Congress are more concerned with local issues than national or international issues. (45 marks)
H.O.R. are specialists that serve on one or two committees
Their areas of specialism are often linked to the concerns of their district
H.O.R. have fewer constituents so there is a closer relationship between them
H.O.R. are highly responsive to the views of their constituents
Explain the role of standing committees
Permanent policy specialists and there are 17 in each house
They conduct the committee stage of legislative process
carry out investigations within their policy area. (Fulfilling Congress's role of oversight = implied power of Congress)
Explain the role of House Rules Committee
Timetable bills in the house
Moves bills from committee stage to the second reading
Assigns priorities to bills
Give a rule to each bill passing onto the floor for its second reading
Set out the rules of debate
Explain the role of select committees
an ad - hoc membership
They set up either when an investigation will be time consuming or an investigation doesn't fall within the policy area of one standing committee.
Explain the role of the Conference Committee
An ad - hoc membership drawn from both houses
They reconcile different versions of the same bill that emerge from two houses
Why have congressional committees been criticised?
1. Overamending: Bills have been amended too many times that it doesn't resemble original bill
2.Inefficiency: Multiple points of veto, slows process down
3. Speed: Slow court hearings can cause delays in the process
4.Decentralisation: Even small groups are getting to dictate what legislation is being passed. (Decision made my commitment are usually adhered to)
Why do a small percentage of bills introduced into Congress become laws?
No formalities of how bills get introduced into Congress (just a copy of the bill placed on a tray)
President can veto the bill or not sign the bill into law
Many points and places bills can die even before the 1st reading stage
During the 2nd reading stage, if you don't get a simple majority the bill will die
Examine the claim that is in the committee rooms that the real work of Congress is done. (45 marks)
Committee stage broken into sub committees
Power of amendment can pass amend or reject
Bills with lots of support get heard from within House, Congress, interest groups etc.
Committee members are specialists/experts
However Committees are criticised because of: decentralisation of power, inefficiency, over amending, speed, iron triangles and being accused of corruption.
Members of Congress are more concerned with local issues than national or international issues.
Senates are generalists that serve on two or three standing committees. (They are a more concerned than H.O.R. with national/international issues)
Represent a broader range of opinion than most House members (they are elected for 6 year terms, don't have to be immediately responsive to constituents views)
Senate is more collegiate and consensual
What does the leader of Congress do?
Speaker is elected by entire house membership at start of each Congress
Has the power to act as presiding officer of House (chairman)
Interprets and enforce the rules of the House and decide on points of order. (what issues dealt with and when)
Refers bills to standing committees to be looked at.
Appoint select committee and conference committee chairs
Is the speaker still a powerful figure?
They can push an alternative policy (if from a different party)
They can block/amend legislation e.g. Obamacare
May exercise considerable influence in the flow of legislation through the House, for committees and majority party members and also House standing committee chairs
The speaker isn't a powerful figure...
They are a non partisan figure some speakers just compromise choices
Party officials can be seen to have more power than a Speaker
A strong majority leader may have more sway and more political pull than a quiet speaker
How much influence does the leadership have?
Agenda Control - Getting favourable agenda passed or keeping bills off the agenda which they may not like (known as Gatekeeping)
Pressure - Falling in line with the leadership of your party can result in incentives (e.g. Committee selection)
Discipline - Going against the leadership could result in opportunities being missed such as spots on committees.
Examine the influence of congressional leadership?
Leadership in the House
Speaker of the House of Representatives is the only presiding officer
Congress is broken....
It is no longer the primary policy making institutions (the president has now taken this role who sets out political agenda each year at the State of the Union Address). Also much of Congress legislation is the presidents own agenda;
Most career politicians focus on local issues in order to be re - elected rather than international issues.
Bipartisanship no longer exists, unlikely for the President to agree on policies with Congress which leads to gridlock
Over-long & complicated legislative process meaning process of passing legislation is delayed
Frequent gridlock especially when there is divided party control
Congress isn't broken...
It still passes a lot of legislation each year
It still carries out its functions such as congressional oversight (ensures powers of executive and various government departments are used responsibly through a variety of means
scrutinising presidential appointments)
Government deliberately designed to be difficult and limited.
Members are attentive to constituents views
Explain the use of the filibuster?
The filibuster takes place in the Senate
Member or members of Senate debate on a proposed legislation in order to delay or prevent a vote happening.
A majority vote is needed in order to bring the debate to a cloture
Example: Strom Thurmond (longest filibuster in history for 24hrs 18 minutes on a passage of the Civil Rights Act.)
Why has there been an increase in partisanship?
The shift of southern Conservative Democrats to the Republican Party
Polarised Presidents e.g. Obama, Clinton & Bush
The effect of new media