INFLUENCES ON CONGRESS OBJECTIVE Identify what specific groups and individuals influence the legislators’ decisions? INFLUENCES ON LAWMAKERS Lawmakers’ views on decisions are seldom based on individual conscience, instead many different groups influence lawmakers’ views. Voters back home, Lawmakers’ staff members, Political parties, The President Special-interest groups THE INFLUENCE OF VOTERS Lawmakers are heavily influenced by the needs and opinions of their constituents (the voters). Lawmakers stay informed of voters’ attitudes and needs by: making frequent trips back home, Surveys, questionnaires, polls, and reports from their staff in their home district. Lawmakers take this information to help make decisions on issues. THE INFLUENCE OF PARTIES Nearly all members of Congress belong to one of the two major political parties & generally support their own party’s stands on legislation. House members support their parties more strongly than Senate members, The issues themselves also determine whether members follow their party leaders’ agenda. Members of Congress usually support their party because party members usually share the same general political beliefs. DEMOCRATIC PARTY “Liberal” “Our party was founded on the conviction that wealth and privilege shouldn’t be an entitlement to rule and the belief that the values of hardworking families are the values that should guide us.” Generally the party favors: Gun Control Pro-Choice Social welfare programs Help for low income people Greater government regulation of biz REPUBLICAN PARTY “Conservative” “With a core belief in the primacy of individuals, the Republican Party, since its inception, has been at the forefront of the fight for individuals' rights in opposition to a large, intrusive government.” Generally the party favors: Small government Gun Rights Pro-Life Less government regulation of business Local and state governments Support for higher income groups PRESIDENTIAL INFLUENCES ON CONGRESS Presidents work hard to persuade lawmakers to support laws they want passed and give or withhold political favors to secure lawmakers’ support. Use the media to influence public opinion Influence individual members of congress The “LBJ Treatment” SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS Interest groups and their lobbyists represent various interests, including labor and business groups, education and environmental organizations, and minority groups. Try to persuade lawmakers to support certain policies. Provide info about policies they support or oppose Visit lawmakers to ask for support Encourage citizens to write to Members of Congress SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS Political action committees (PACs) are political fund-raising organizations that give their funds to support lawmakers who favor the PAC’s position. Are established by corporations, labor unions etc. Use funds to support lawmakers who favor a PAC’s positions on issues. Have increased dramatically DISCUSSION Do you think lobbyists and PACs are beneficial or detrimental (harmful) to the lawmaking process in Congress?