Congress
The Roots of the Legislative Branch

Colonial Assemblies

Bicameral legislative bodies



Served as Advisory Council


One popularly elected house
One Crown-appointed council
To the King-appointed governors
Power




Limited
Increasingly over taxation & spending
Legislation on religious matters
Regulate production of goods in colonies
The Roots of the Legislative Branch

1st Continental Congress (1774)





1st National Legislature
To respond to the Coercive Acts
Advised building of colonial militia
Organized colonial boycott of British goods
2nd Continental Congress (1775)




Prepared the colonies for war with Britain
Raised a colonial army
Adopted Declaration of Independence
Directed the war & run a national government
The Roots of the Legislative Branch

Congress Under the Articles of Confederation






Unicameral legislature
Each state represented by 2 to 7 delegates
Each state had one vote (“ equal representation”)
Congress = National government
 No President & National Court created
Members of Congress sent by state legislatures
Limited Powers
 Maintaining an army and navy
 Supervising trade with Indians
 Coining money
The Roots of the Legislative Branch

Limitations of Congress under the Articles



Weak national government vs states
 Missing link btwn people & nat’l government
Low standing in international affairs
 Foreign relations conducted by states
 Foreign trade regulated by states individually
Financially incapacitated
 No taxation power
 Reliance on state for financial resources
Congress & Constitution (1789)

Constitutional convention of 1787

Structure of Congress
 Unicameral or Bicameral
 New Jersey Plan
 “equal representation”
One state, one vote
 Virginia Plan
 “proportionate representation”
# of seats proportional to population
Congress & Constitution (1789)

Constitutional convention of 1787
 Unicameral or Bicameral
 Great Compromise
 Bicameral
Congress
 Proportional representation (House)
 Equal representation (Senate)
Congress & Constitution (1789)


Sources of Power: How Should Congress
Be Elected?
 Lower house: popularly elected
 Upper house: sent by state legislatures
Powers of Congress

Does Congress elect President?
 No, Electoral College does
 Yes, when no candidate receives a majority
votes in the College
Congress & Constitution (1789)

Powers of Congress


“Power of the Purse”
 Appropriation of money
 Authorization of borrowing
 taxation
Regulatory Power
 Regulation of currency
 Punishment of counterfeiting
 Regulation of inter-state & int’l trade
Congress & Constitution (1789)

Powers of Congress


Law-making Power
 Establishing rules of naturalization
 Making patent & copy-right laws
 Making bankruptcy laws
 Making amendments to Constitution
War-making & Military Power

War declaration
 Raising
& supporting armed forces
 Providing for militia
Congress & Constitution (1789)

Powers of Congress

Power of Personnel Appointment

Confirmation of executive appointments
 Secretary
of State
 US ambassador to the UN

Confirmation of federal judge nomination



Federal court judges
US Supreme Court justices
Power of Impeachment


Bringing impeachment charges (House)
Trying impeachments (Senate)
Congress & Constitution (1789)

Powers of Congress

Other Powers





Establishing post office & post roads
Fixing weights and measures
Providing for the government of D.C.
Admitting new states
Establishing lower federal courts
Senate vs. the House

Size

435 members in the House (since 1911)



106 members in 1791 representing 3.5 million residents
100 Senators in the Senate
Qualifications

House







25 years of age
Citizenship for at least 7 years
Residency in district: 1 year
Term of service: 2 years
1 member per 550,000 people
How often is Congressional election?
How many Members face election each time?
Senate vs. House

Congress & Constituency

House of Representatives




Closer to the voters
More reflective of voter preferences
More answerable to constituents
Senate

More remote to the voters


Allows for political stability & policy continuity
Less responsive to temporal changes in popular
sentiments

Can act as a dispassionate counter-weight to the
more popular & radical House
Senate vs. House

Qualifications

Senate







30 years of age
9 years of citizenship
Residency requirement in state: 1 year
Term: 6 years
2 seats per state in Senate
How often is Senatorial election?
How many Senators face election each time?
Senate vs. House

Legislative role differences

Senate

More deliberative



Why?
Less structured
House of Representatives

More centralized & organized


Why?
More routine & structured
Congress vs. US Society
Does Congress mirror the American society?
 In religious belief (2001-2003)




Protestant
Catholics
Jewish
Mormon

Policy implications


Abortion
Same sex marriage
341
149
37
16
Congress vs. US Society
Minorities in Congress


Women
Number of Women in US Congress
100
80
59
63
67
72
77
82
60
40
17
20
0
11
19
37
20
24
11
9
19
47
19
57
19
67
19
77
19
87
19
97
19
98
19
99
20
01
20
03
20
04
Congress vs. US Society

Minorities in Congress

Race
Number of Minorities in US Congress
(2001)
371
400
300
200
100
23
37
6
0
As
ian
Afr
Am
eri
ca
His
n
pa
ni c
Wh
ite
Congress vs. US Society

Professional background
Members of Congress by Professional
Background (2001)
250
200
150
100
50
0
209
183
154
108
31
La
w
Bu
s in
16
28
56
17
Ed
Ag
Jo
Pu
Re
Me
Ot
urn
uc
ri c
he
b lic
al
d
i
a
u
ci n
r
ess
ali s
Es
ti o
l
t
S
u
e
tat
erv
n
re
m
e
ic e
Congress vs. US Society
A typical member of Congress
 Middle-aged
 Male
 White
 Lawyer
 Whose father is of the professional or
managerial class
 Native born or from northwestern or
central Europe, Canada
To run for Congress…
2000 Senatorial Race of New York
To run for Congress…
Three success factors
 #1: Who the person to run

Candidate characteristics have an edge over
others


A record of prior public service
National name recognition


Hillary Clinton versus Rep. Rick Lazzio
Fund-raising capability
To run for Congress…

Why members of Congress easily win reelection?
Success Rate of Congressional Election
100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
Senate
House
20%
10%
0%
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
2002
To run for Congress…

#2: Incumbency Advantages

Visibility


Contact with Members of House
Advertise
thru contacts
with constituents
(blue=Incumbents;
brown=challengers)
Stay visible thru trips to home districts
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
Re
ce
Sa
ive
w
Re
ad
Io
n
dm
TV
ai l
fr o
m
I
He
Me
ar
tI
dI
pe
ab
on
rso
ou
tI
ra
na
di o
lly
To run for Congress…

#2: Incumbency Advantages


Visibility
Campaign contributions



Donations go to those in office
Donations to challengers offend incumbents
Credit claiming thru services to individuals & district

Casework



Attend to voter concerns, requests and problems
Help cut thru bureaucratic red tape to get what one
believes he has a right to get
Pork barrel


List of federal projects, grants & contracts
Help obtain or make known such projects to district
To run for Congress…

#2: Incumbency Advantages




Visibility
Campaign contributions
Credit claiming thru services to individuals & district
Incumbent resources




Institutional connections and access to channels of
communications
“franking privilege” (free use of the US mails)
Tax-funded travel allowance to stay visible in one’s own
district
Incumbents scaring challengers away
*calls for “term limits” aim to eliminate incumbency advantage
To run for Congress…
Congressional Districts
District 23 (Texas) and District 3 (Florida in ’92 and ’96)
To run for Congress…

#3: Redistricting

Congressional districts redrawn every 10
years


To avoid under- or over-representation
Re-drawing districts is highly political



Can create open seats
Can pit incumbents of the same district against
one another, ensuring one of them to lose
Can create advantage for one Party


Putting people of the same party in one district
Or separating them into two or more districts.
Cost of Congressional Race…

Cost to Get Elected

Congressional elections are getting more
costly



$928 million spent on 1999-2000
Congressional election
Incumbents outspend their opponents


Jon Corzine (NJ-D), $63 million own money on
Senate race
E.g., $7.5 million spent by Newt Gingrich’s
reelection in 1998
Candidates of major states spend more

$85 million attracted in Hillary-Lassio race, 2000
Cost of Congressional Race…
 Senate
Cost
to Get Elected
1998
2000
Average
 winner spent
$5,227,761
Spending on House race
$7,266,576
 Winners:
Average loser
spent
$3,864,638
$800,000$2,839,813
Most expensive
 Losers: at least $300,000
campaign

Spending on Senate race

House
$27,159,681
$63,000,000 (Jon
Corzine, D-NJ)
Winners: $7 million up to $40 million or more
 Average
Rising
Cost
winner
spent
$650,428
$840,300
Average loser spent
$210,614
$307,121
$7,578,716
$6,900,000 (James
E. Humphrey, DWV)
Most expensive
campaign
Cost of Congressional Race…

Rising Cost
Rising Congressional Race Cost (in million dollars)
$1,000
$900
$800
$700
$600
$500
$400
$300
$200
$100
$0
1975-76
1979-1980 1985-1986 1989-1990 1995-1996 1999-2000
Organization of Congress



Congress not only represents, it also
legislates.
Internal complexity makes it hard to
conduct business without organization.
Congress is organized around:




Political parties
A committee system
Parliamentary rules of the House & Senate
And others…
Organization of Congress

Political Parties



House leader election every two years
Majority party leader = House Speaker
Every party has a Committee on Committees
(Democrats call theirs: the Steering & Policy Committee)



Assign new legislators to committees
Transfer incumbents to new committees on
request
Majority & minority leaders jointly control
Senate calendars (agenda)
Organization of Congress

Party leaders & legislative agenda

Leaders are enthusiastic for agenda

To create consensus within party


1980
1994-1995
(when Congress not controlled by President’s
party)
Organization of Congress
Committee System
Standing Committees
 Important policy-making bodies
 Existing from Congress to Congress
 Paralleling executive agencies



Foreign Affairs Committee - State Department
Intelligence Committee – CIA & others
Having power to report legislation
Organization of Congress

Select Committee



Temporary committees
No power to report legislation
Set up to handle specific issues that fall btwn
the jurisdiction of existing committees

A special committee for investigating the
Watergate scandal (1973)
Organization of Congress

Joint Committee




With members from both parties
Permanent
No power to report legislation
Four types of joint committees




Economic
Taxation
Library
printing
The Committee System

Conference Committee



Temporary
Members appointed by Speaker & Senate
presiding officer
For reconciling any differences on legislation
once it has been passed by House & Senate
The Staff System


A number of staff members for every
legislator
Staff members (7,216 in House alone, 1999):




Handle constituency requests
Take care of legislative details
Formulate & draft proposals
Organize hearing, deal with administrative
agencies, reporters and lobbyists…
The caucuses

What is a caucus?
Informal group or committee composed of Senators or
Representatives who share opinions, interests or social
characteristics.

Ideological causes


Issue-oriented caucuses



Liberal Democratic Study Group
Travel & Tourism Caucuses
Congressional Friends of Animals
Common background caucuses

The Congressional Black Caucus
The caucuses


What is a caucus?
Objectives of the Caucuses
To advance interests of the groups they
represent by promoting legislation,
encouraging Congress to hold hearing, and
pressing administrative agencies for favorable
treatment
How a Bill Becomes Law
Some facts:
 For a bill to become law, there are many
routine hurdles
 It is easier for opponents to kill a bill
than to pass it
 The law-making process is highly political
How a Bill Becomes Law
The Law-making Steps
1. Introducing legislation
Who can introduce legislative proposals?
 Members of Congress
 Executive branch
 Interest groups
 Constituents
How a Bill Becomes Law
The Law-making Steps
2. Assignment to Committee





Given a number in House preceded by “H. R.”
and by “S” in Senate
Bill referred to a committee
Most bills assigned to the appropriate
committees
Complex bills referred to several committees
Controversial bills are sometimes handled by
temporary or ad hoc committees set up for that
purpose
How a Bill Becomes Law
The Law-making Steps
2. Assignment to Committee


Often, nothing happens to the bills in
committee. Neglect leads to death of many
bills
Bills to be acted on are often referred to the
appropriate sub-committees.
How a Bill Becomes Law
The Law-making Steps
3. Hearing

Once the sub-committee or full committee
decides to act, hearings are held participated by:





Executive agency representatives
Academia
Interest groups
Other interested persons
In a typical two-year Congress


Senate: 1200 hearings
House: 2300 hearings
How a Bill Becomes Law
The Law-making Steps
4. Reporting a Bill



When a sub-committee decides to act on a bill,
it drafts it line by line
It reports it to the full committee
The full committee accepts, rejects or amends
the bill.
How a Bill Becomes Law
The Law-making Steps
5. Schedule Debate


When a committee agrees to submit a bill to the
two houses, it is put on the House & Senate
calendar, a list bills for action
Each house has different calendars for different
bills

In House, non-controversial bills are put on the
Consent Calendar or Private Calendar to be
passed without debate
How a Bill Becomes Law
The Law-making Steps
5. Schedule Debate

Each house has different calendars for different
bills

Controversial or important bills are placed on the
Union Calendar or house Calendar. Rules &
procedures (length of debate) are requested from
the Rules Committee.
Define the following:
filibuster, cloture, open rule, closed rule.
How a Bill Becomes Law
The Law-making Steps
6. Debate & Amendment






Opponents & proponents have equal debate time
Relevant amendments, if allowed, can be added
Floor debate seldom change views of others
In Senate, debate can last long time
In Senate, filibuster can be used
Senators can propose amendments irrelevant to
the bill.
How a Bill Becomes Law
The Law-making Steps
7. The Vote

How do members vote? What impact their
voting behavior?




Personal views
Opinions of the constituents
Advice of knowledgeable & trusted colleagues
Occasionally, President can win over wavering
members of their Party to stick with the team or
by cutting deals with pivotal members.
It is important for members to cast an
explainable vote, one that is defendable in
public when challenged.
How a Bill Becomes Law
The Law-making Steps
7. The Vote



How do members vote? What impact their voting
behavior?
It is important for members to cast an explainable
vote, one that is defendable in public when
challenged.
Not every vote has to please the
constituents. But, too many “bad” votes are
costly and show distance with one’s folks at
home.
How a Bill Becomes Law
The Law-making Steps
8. In Conference Committee




Once passed, a bill is sent to the other chamber
for consideration
If the 2nd chamber passes the bill, it is then sent
to the White House for action.
But, controversial bills need to go to a Conference
Committee to reconcile the differences in the two
versions of the bills
After Conference, details of the bill are reported
back to each chamber before sending to the
President.
How a Bill Becomes Law
The Law-making Steps
7. To the President




Approve the bill into law
Ignore it, with the result it becomes law in 10
days (not including weekend & when Congress
is still in session)
Veto it (& facing override in Congress)
Pocket veto it (if Congress adjourns before the
10 days are up)
When President vetoes a bill, he usually
explains why he does so.
How a Bill Becomes Law
The Law-making Steps
7. Congressional Override of Veto
A two-thirds majority is required in each chamber
to override the Presidential veto
Influences on Law-making
There are two major forces impacting
Congressional law-making
 External influences



Constituency
Interest groups
Internal/governmental influences



Party leadership
Congressional colleagues
President/executive branch
Influences on Law-making
Influence from the Constituency


Members of Congress comply with views of
constituents due to re-election need
They voluntarily anticipate or find out
constituents’ positions

1998, 31 House democrats crossed the party line and
voted in favor of an impeachment inquiry (e.g.,
Congressman Gary Condit)
Influences from Interest
Groups

Mobilize followers in a member’s congressional
districts


“Astroturf lobbying”
Provide information
Influences from Party Org


Party leaders in Congress have influence over members
Party organizations have resources:

Leadership PACs







PACs (1) raise funds and then (2) distribute to members for
running for election
PACs enhance party power
PACs create bond between leaders & members who receive
money
Committee Assignments
Access to Floor
The whip system
communication network, with info on member intentions in
voting
Logrolling
Influences from the President


Since 1940s, President submitted yearly
legislative proposals to Congress
Since mid-1950s, Congress has looked to the
President for legislative proposals
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