Congressional Unit Wrap-Up

Congressional Unit Wrap-Up

Congressional Unit Wrap-up

Review for Test Two

The Legislative Branch

Congressional Powers

•Article I of the Constitution:

•All legislative Powers vested in a Congress…Consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives

•Big Word for the Day: Collegial

–characterized by or having authority vested equally among colleagues

•Varied Roles of Congress

–Makes legislation

–Appropriates funds to carry out laws

– May declare war

–Proposes amendments to Constitution

–Impeaches the President

–Regulates conduct of legislators

–Approves Appointments

–Ratifies treaties


•XIV – (Due Process) Repeals 3/5ths clause - 1868

•XVI – Income Tax - 1913

•XVII – Direct Election of Senators – 1913

•XX – (Lame Duck) Session starts 3rd of January - 1933

•XXVII – Congressional Pay Raises – 1992

Who ARE These People?


•Representative or Congressman or Congresswoman

•25 years old

•Citizen for 7 years

•Resident of their state

•2 year terms



•30 years old

•Citizen for 9 years

•“Resident” of their state

•6 year terms

Separated at Birth


•Larger (435)

•Shorter term of office (2 yrs)

•More procedural restraints on members

•Narrower constituency (they represent a smaller region) average district size: 646,952

•Policy Specialists

•Diffused media coverage

•More powerful leader

•Less Prestigious

•Briefer floor debates

•Less reliant on staff

•More Partisan

•Special Role: Taxing and Spending

•Impeachment Charges


•Smaller (100)

•Longer term of office (6 yrs)

•Fewer procedural restraints on members

•Broader, more varied constituency

•Policy generalists

•More media coverage

•Less powerful leaders

•More Prestigious

•Longer floor debates (filibuster)

•More reliant on staff

•Less Partisan

•Special Role: Treaties and Appointments

•Impeachment Trial

Leadership Organization



–Selected every two years

–Often serves for many years

–Nancy Pelosi (CA)

•Majority Leader

–Party Leader

–2nd in command

–Steny Hoyer (MD)


•Majority Leader

–The person in charge

–Party Leader

–Harry Reid (NV)

•President Pro Tempore

–Honorary, based on seniority

–For the time being

–Robert Byrd (WV)

•Presiding Officer - Vice President

–Presides – but not often

–Breaks ties (6 months for Cheney)

–Dick Cheney (WY)

How a Bill…

Work, work, work

•How Many Bills?

• How Many Filed?

–20,000 annually!

•How Many Pass?

–Around a 1000.

•That’s about 5%!


•Where the work gets done




•Joint (only 2)

•Special or Select



–The Workhorse of Congress

–19 in the House, 17 in the Senate

–88 Subcommittees in the House, 68 in the Senate

•Quorum – enough members present to hold a vote

•Conference (not the same as party conferences) works out the differences between House and Senate versions of a bill

House Committees

•The Big Three

•House Rules Committee

–It is the “traffic cop” for whether or not a bill makes it

–The House Rules Committee is MUCH more powerful than the Senate.

•Ways and Means

–Raises Revenue for the Government

–First stop for ALL revenue bills

•House Appropriations

–Spends money to fund government

–Appropriation: the legal authorization to expend governmental funds

Senate Committees

•The Big Three

•Senate Appropriations


–The Tax Committee for the Senate

•Senate Foreign Relations

–Confirms ambassadors

–Ratifies treaties

–Is the “check and balance” for executive foreign policy powers.

The Floor

•Calendar – list of bills scheduled for hearing or vote

•The Well


•Unlimited debate

•Senate Only (too many members in the House…)

•Rule 22 requires 3/5th of the Senate (60) to invoke…

•Cloture, which is a vote to end the debate.


•35,000 employees

•Committee staff has declined in recent years under Republican control (House: 1,407 from 2,100; Senate: 950 from 1,185)

•Minimum personal staff: 18 full time, 4 part time

•Wasserman: they “organize hearings, negotiate… research… speak with voters, and promote legislation.” They initiate policies and “sell” them to their bosses.

Executive/Legislative Tension

•Even if the House, the Senate and the President ALL come from the same party, and certainly if they do not,

•Even if the President (or Vice President) was recently part of the Legislative Branch,

•Even if the President has a substantial mandate of public support,

•They trust each other

–“as far as I can throw ‘em…”


Party Leadership

The Twins and their Older Brother:





•A gathering of all members of the same party serving in the House or Senate

Majority and Minority Leadership

•Majority Leader – Political Leader

–Hoyer and Reid

•Minority Leader – I’d be the boss if WE were in charge

–Boehner and McConnell

•Whips – coordinate party positions

–Name comes from English fox-hunting

•“Whipper-in” keeps dogs from running away

–Counts votes

–Keeps votes in line

Party Loyalty


•Mavericks: members who show less loyalty to their party and do not abide by informal rules

•Now, not a single chairman in either side believes they are there because of the leadership. (Dick Army)

Show Me the Money

Revenue and Appropriations


•Appropriation: the legal authorization to expend governmental funds

•How we fund government

To spend money you need:

•Authorization (an appropriation)

•Funds (revenue)

•You must have BOTH

You gotta start somewhere…

•And for money, you start in the House of Representatives

•Article I, Section 7 (1) All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

The 1974 Budget Act

•An attempt to address the lack of a consistent economic policy

•Set up Budget Committees in each house to review President’s Budget in light of all taxing and spending measures

•Budget Committees set total spending, tax and debt levels

•Staff for the Budget Committees is the Congressional Budget Office

–Non-partisan, but not impartial

–Legislative/Executive Tension

Line Item Veto

•Declared Unconstitutional in 1998

•No line item veto means the President cannot separate out objectionable items from important, helpful items.

•Throw out the “baby with the bathwater”

•Riders – a piece of legislation attached as an amendment to another, possible totally unrelated bill


•Oink, oink, oink…

–Pork Barrel Spending

•Bringing home the bacon

•Appropriations for items of interest to your constituents

•(and in a worst case scenario, of service to no one else!)

Two Key Terms


•The Federal Government does not require a balanced budget!

•The difference between revenue (receipts) and expenditures (outlays)

•An annual measurement of the shortfall

•The opposite of surplus

•Too much spending, not enough money!

•Too much spending, not enough money!

•Estimated FFY 2007 deficit: $172 billion (CBO)

•Down from $337 in 06!


•What we borrow to cover accumulated deficits

•The interest will eat you alive!

•We borrow from ourselves and others.

•You can have debt without deficits!

•We had balanced budgets (no deficit) in 1998-2001, but we still had debt

Other Powers

Advise and Consent:Confirming and Ratifying

•The Senate Confirms the President’s Appointments




•The Senate Must Ratify all Treaties

•Foreign Relations Committee

Congressional Big Brother


–General Accounting Office (The GAO)



•The House impeaches; the Senate holds the trail

•Johnson 1868

•Clinton 1998

–Impeached but not convicted

•Nixon 1974

–Resigned instead of facing impeachment

•Federal Judges can be (and have been) impeached (and convicted)

The War Powers Act

•Criticism of the President’s role in Vietnam led to the War Powers Act of 1973

•The President may only commit troops abroad for a period of 60 days, (90 if including withdrawal)

•Congress must approve a longer period

•Nixon vetoed it; they over-rode the veto

•Presidents don’t like it, but tend to go for some sort of authorizing resolution from Congress

•Remember, no matter what, Congress still funds things!

You Gotta Draw the Line Somewhere…

Apportionment, Incumbency and Reform


•Apportionment - the distribution of voters into districts; the dividing of representation by population

•Mal-apportionment - large differences in the population of Congressional districts

•Re-Apportionment – the process of re-distributing the populations amongst districts

•Districting – the process of drawing the lines on the maps. Sounds simple, right?

•States draw Federal House Lines

–(Why not Senate?)

•Their processes vary dramatically!

Bad Boys, Bad Boys…

•Gerrymander – Governor Eldridge Gerry’s Salamander shaped district

•Drawing district lines for partisan purposes

•Packing and Cracking

–Packing – putting lots of your people in one district

–Cracking – separating out the opposition so they can’t win



–Being the current officeholder



–Franking (mail)



–We hate the IDEA of incumbency

•Apathy pays off for incumbents!

•In 2002 85% of House members and 98% of Senators won re-elections

•In 2004, 401 of 435 House members ran for re-election. 396 won. (98.7%) Of the 26 Senators running, all but one won. (96%)

•In 2006 Re-election rates were down… 94.3% in the House, 79% in the Senate

•Term Limits

•21 States have passed term limits for their officials; 15 still have them

•Federal Officials remain unlimited

•Arkansas’s little role in all this:

•US TERM LIMITS vs Thornton

•Generally, the trend is fading

Congress In a Nutshell

•A House and a Senate makes a Congress

•LOTS of Bills

–Few pass

•Incumbent rich, Heavy on the Lawyers

•LOTS of staff

–But less than there once was

•At the Moment: Democratic Party Controlled

•Committees are where the work gets done

•They legislate, appropriate, confirm and ratify, oversee and investigate

•Inefficient by design

•Bicameral, with Checks and Balances

•Home of Debaters, Bosses and Managers

•Where we all have a voice

•Where OUR laws are made

•OUR congress: they work for US!

The following items are NOT part of your test 3 material:

Question Time!

I won’t always know the answer, but I know how to find it!

Who originally appointed Alan Greenspan?

•Ronald Regan

•Greenspan served from 1987 to 2006 for four presidents.

•Reagan, Bush, Clinton, W. Bush

Our debt in perspective:

•International Perspective:

•Historical Perspective:

Interest on the Debt

FISCAL Year 2005 Total $352,350,252,507.90

FY 2006:


“SquareState” Populations

•Wyoming 506,529

•South Dakota 770,883

•North Dakota 634,366

•Montana 926,865

•Average US Congress district: 646,952

Veto Examples

Johnson Impeachment

•Johnson was Lincoln’s VP on a Bi-partisan, compromise ticket.

•When Lincoln was assassinated, the worst fears of the Radical Reconstructionist Republicans appeared true – A state’s rights southern Democrat in the White House.

•They passed the Tenure in Office Act to keep him from firing Lincoln’s Cabinet.

•He fired Stanton anyway and was impeached with 11 counts.

•The Senate failed to convict by 1 vote. None of the 6 Republicans who crossed the aisle to “acquit” were ever re-elected. To anything.

•He was tipsy at his inauguration: he was recovering from typhoid and someone had made him a hot toddy: 6 shots and an egg. GROSS!!!!

Old questions:

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Constitutional Amendments The Didn’t Make It

•There are 6:

•1) The first of the 12 Bill of Rights amendments relating to apportionment – 1789

•Ratified by 1 states

•2) The Tittles of Nobility Amendment – You renounce your citizenship if you accept a title from a foreign power – 1810

•Ratified by 12 states

•3) The Corwin Amendment about Slavery and State’s Rights – 1861

•Ratified by 3 states

•4) The Child Labor amendment – 1924

•Ratified by 28 states

•5) The Equal Rights Amendment - 1972

•Ratified by 35 states

•Closest to being ratified before time ran out… and ran out again!

•DC Voting Rights – 1978

•Ratified by 16 states

Senatorial Replacement

•Appointed Senators

•The 17th Amendment to the Constitution (1913) established direct election of senators, as well as a means of filling vacant Senate seats. If a vacancy occurs due to a senator's death, resignation, or expulsion, the 17th Amendment allows state legislatures to empower the governor to appoint a replacement to complete the term or to hold office until a special election can take place. There are a few exceptions to this rule. The states of Oregon, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Alaska do not allow the governor to appoint, but rather require special elections to fill a vacancy. Oklahoma allows the governor to appoint under certain circumstances. Typically, a replacement holds office until the next scheduled statewide election. For more information on how vacancies are filled, see this Report from the Congressional Research Service (pdf).

•The Massachusetts change was made in July of 04 over the veto of Republican Governor Mitt Romney

Longest filibuster

•Filibusters were particularly useful to Southern senators who sought to block civil rights legislation, including anti-lynching legislation, until cloture was invoked after a fifty-seven day filibuster against the Civil Right Act of 1964. In 1975, the Senate reduced the number of votes required for cloture from two-thirds to three-fifths, or sixty of the current one hundred senators.

•The record for the longest individual speech goes to South Carolina's J. Strom Thurmond who filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

Cabinet Salaries


•(The Pres. makes about $400,000)

•They could all make more money in the private sector.

State of the Union Protest Update

•WASHINGTON - Faced with a bipartisan furor, the chief of the Capitol Police on Wednesday apologized for ejecting anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan and the wife of an influential Republican congressman from the State of the Union address and blamed vague policies for the actions of his officers.

•"The officers made a good faith, but mistaken effort to enforce an old unwritten interpretation of the prohibitions about demonstrating in the Capitol. The policy and procedures were too vague," Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer said. "The failure to adequately prepare the officers is mine.“

•In 1916 Woodrow Wilson’s Address was interrupted by women demanding the right to vote

Pendleton Act

•PENDLETON, George Hunt,(1825 - 1889)

•Senate Years of Service: 1879-1885

•Party: Democrat

Leading Oil Exporter to US:

•Non OPEC countries produce 60% of the World’s oil

•Our number one friend:

–Oh, Canada!

•Then Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Nigeria