Chapter 6

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Transcript Chapter 6

Section 1- How Congress is organized?

How Congress is Organized


– Bicameral: Legislature divided into two houses.

– Resulted from WHAT COMPROMISE?

 The House  435 members, 2 year terms of office.

  Initiates all revenue bills, more influential on budget.

House Rules Committee  Limited debates.

 The Senate    100 members, 6 year terms of office.

Gives “advice & consent”, more influential on foreign affairs.

Unlimited debates. (filibuster) Census – population count every 10 years Gerrymandering – oddly shaped districted designed to increase votes

How Congress is Organized

Congressional Leadership

The House

– – – – Lead by Speaker of the House - elected by House members.

Presides over House.

Major role in committee assignments and legislation.

Assisted by majority leader and whips.

The Senate

– – – – – Formally lead by Vice President.

President pro tempore – “for the time being” Really lead by Majority Leader- chosen by party members.

Assisted by whips.

Must work with Minority leader.

Majority party – the party to which more than half of the members belong to Minority party – other party

How Congress is Organized

The Committees and Subcommittees    Four types of committees:     Standing committees: permanent committees and continue their work form session to session Joint committees: includes members of both Houses Conference committees: resolve differences in House and Senate bills.

Select committees: created for a specific purpose for a limited time.

Getting on a Committee  Members want committee assignments that will help them get reelected, gain influence, and make policy.

 New members express their committee preferences to the party leaders.

Getting Ahead on the Committee: Chairs and the Seniority System.

 The chair is the most important position for controlling legislation.

  Chairs were once chosen strictly by the seniority system.

Now seniority is a general rule, and members may choose the chair of their committee.

Compare and Contrast: Draw this Chart! Fill it out as you read! Turn it in at the end of class!

House of Representatives Senate

Size Terms Powers of Leader Types of Committees

Section 2- The Powers of Congress

Legislative Powers

  Expressed powers – “Congress shall have the Power…” Implied powers – Necessary and Proper Clause gives Congress the power to do anything it deems “Necessary and Proper” to carryout its expressed powers   Not stated explicitly Clause is also known as the Elastic Clause


 Taxing and Spending   Authorization bills – $ allowed (how much money is authorized for that program to spend) Appropriation bills - $ actually given to that program   Regulating Commerce - trade Foreign Relations and Treaties – only Congress can declare war.

Nonlegislative Powers

 Powers that do not relate to “law-making”  Approving presidential appointees into high positions  House has the sole authority to impeachOversight and Investigation: important to ensure Executive branch is carrying out the laws appropriately.

Limits on Power

 Things Congress may NOT do:  Writ of habeas corpus - cannot stop prisoner form going to court to know why he or she is being held  Bills of attainders – cannot pass laws that punish a person without jury trial. WHAT AMENDMENT!?

Ex post facto laws – cannot make something a crime after it is committed.

Categorizing Information: Draw this Chart! Fill it out as you read! Turn it in at the end of class!

Legislative Powers Nonlegislative Powers Powers Denied

Section 4 – How a Bill becomes a Law (Yes… we skipped Section 3!)

Types of Bills

 Two Types of Bills  Private Bills: concern individual people or places  Public bills: apply to the entire nation and general matters like taxation, etc.

 Congress considers many resolutions (formal statements of opinions from lawmakers)  Joint resolution – come from both the House and the Senate, and usually do become laws if the president signs it.

From a Bill to a Law


Usually start as an idea, presented either by a person or by special interest groups (organizations made up of people with a common interest that are trying to influence government decisions)  Bills are given a number  Bill #231 in the Senate would be S.231 and in the House would be H.R. 231

STEP 2 - Committee Action

 The Committee Chair decides whether to consider the bill or ignore it  Usually controlled by Standing Committees... They can:      1. they can pass it without changes 2. mark it up with suggestions 3. replace it with an alternative 4. ignore it and let it die out 5. kill it by a majority vote

STEP 3 – Floor Debate

 After the Committee action they are ready to be considered by the full House and Senate.

  Senate usually goes in the order they are submitted In the House, the RULES COMMITTEE is like the “traffic cop” and determines the order   The Senate allows riders (amendments that are unrelated to the bill) to be attached to it Senate can also filibuster  A filibuster can be ended f ¾ of the members vote for cloture. After this no one can speak for more than an hour.

STEP 4 – Voting on a Bill

 Three types of votes  Voice vote: “yea” or “no”   Standing vote: those in favor stand to be counted Roll-call vote: a voice vote but in order as they are called 

STEP 5 – Presidential Action

 Both the Senate and the House must pass a bill in identical form before it becomes a law if not it is sent to a Conference Committee and gets voted on again.

The president can do any of 4 things:     Sign the bill and make it a law Veto it (refusing to sign it) Ignore it for 10 days and then it automatically becomes a law If the bill is getting passed close to the end of the Congressional Session, if the president ignores it during the last 10 days of the session it is called a pocket veto and does not get passed.

Sequencing Chart

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5