Chapter 11- Lawmakers and Legislatures

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Transcript Chapter 11- Lawmakers and Legislatures

Chapter 11: Lawmakers and Legislatures

Denison Middle 7 th Grade Civics

Florida Standards


Analyze the structure, function, and processes of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. SS.7.C.1.7

Describe how the Constitution limits the powers of government through the separation of powers and checks and balances. SS.7.C.2.9

Evaluate candidates for political office by analyzing their qualifications, experience, issue-based platforms, debates, and political ads. LACC.68.RH.2.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

11.2: Legislators and Their Constituents

   Most legislators start out in local politics.

E.g.: city council Once they have gathered experience, they may try for a seat in the House of Representatives or the Senate.

As lawmakers move upward on the legislative path, they serve an ever-widening group of constituents (people in their home districts or states).

Formal Qualifications: Age and Citizenship Requirements

   The Constitution established formal qualifications for members of Congress.

Members of both Houses (i.e.: Senate and House of Representatives) must be residents of the state in which they are elected.

Members must also meet certain age and citizenship requirements.

House members must be 25 years old and a U.S. citizen for at least 7 years.

Senators must be at least 30 years old and a U.S. citizen for at least 9 years.

Informal Qualifications: Race, Gender, Education, and Occupation

 For some 200 years Congress was made up of lawmakers who were white, male, and middle to upper class.

 By the late 1960s, a few hundred women had won election to their state legislatures and Congress.

 By 2006, that number had increased to more than 1,650 women serving as state or national lawmakers

Informal Qualifications: Race, Gender, Education, and Occupation

  In 1971, a combined total of 21 African Americans and Latinos held seats in Congress.

 By 2007, that number had increased to 73.

Beyond race and gender, at least 2 other informal qualifications still exist: education and occupation.

 Most legislators have a college degree.

 The majority of lawmakers have a background in business or law.

Apportionment: Achieving Equal Representation

  The U.S. Senate has 100 seats. (

50 states x 2 senators = 100 seats

) The House of Representatives has 435 seats, with each seat representing one congressional district.

Apportionment: Achieving Equal Representation

 House seats are apportioned (divided) among the states according to each state’s population.

   Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau counts the nation’s population.

The results of the census are used to determine how seats are distributed among the states.

Based on the 2010 Census apportionment, each member of the U.S. House of Representatives will represent an average population of 710,767.

Apportionment: Achieving Equal Representation

   The constitutional principle behind apportionment is equal representation, “one person, one vote”.

The idea also applies to the apportionment of seats in state legislatures.

The principle does not apply to the U.S. Senate.

 As a result, the nation’s least populous state, Wyoming, has as much power in the Senate as does the most populous state, California  2010 U.S. Census  California= 37,341,989 Wyoming= 568,300

How Legislators See Their Jobs: Delegates Versus Trustees

 Legislators see themselves as fulfilling one of two distinct roles: delegate or trustee.Delegates seek to represent their districts by responding directly to the wishes or needs of their constituents.

 First-time lawmakers  Trustees try to represent their districts by exercising their best independent judgment.

 More experienced lawmakers

Getting Elected: Turnover and the Power of Incumbency

 Once elected, many legislators stay in office as long as voters keep reelecting them.

 Term limits only affect state legislators.

 In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that the terms of members of Congress cannot be limited except by a constitutional amendment.

Getting Elected: Turnover and the Power of Incumbency

 Lawmakers that run for office, term after term, stand a good chance of being reelected.

 Since 1945, representatives running for office won reelection approximately 90% of the time.

 Around 80%of incumbent senators have won their reelection bids.

Getting Elected: Turnover and the Power of Incumbency

 Incumbents have four main advantages over their challengers:


Name recognition.Voters are familiar with incumbents.




Office resources. Incumbents can use benefits of their office, such as staff, mailing privileges, and travel allowances to keep in touch with voters in their districts.

Campaign funds. Individuals and organizations give money in larger amounts to incumbents than to challengers.

Bragging rights. Incumbents can point to federal projects - from roads and bridges to defense contracts - that they have won for their districts.

These projects are known as pork, because the money for them comes from the federal “pork barrel,” or treasury.

11.3: The Organization of Congress

 The framers of the Constitution viewed Congress as “ the first branch of government”.

A Bicameral Legislature: The House and Senate

   The Constitution establishes Congress as a bicameral legislature, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The framers expected the House, with its larger size and more frequent elections, to act as the “people’s body”.

The Senate, whose members serve longer terms and were originally chosen by state legislatures, was meant to be a more elite chamber that would act as a steadying influence on Congress.

Leadership Roles in the House

 Since the 1800s, Congress has based its organization on the two major political parties.

 In each house, the majority party -the one with the most seats- controls the agenda.

Leadership Roles in the House

 There are 3 leadership roles in the House:




Speaker of the House- Has more power and prestige then any other leader in Congress.

Nominated by the majority party but wins the position through a vote of the entire House.

 The speaker presides over the House, assigns bills to committees, and appoints members to special committees and commissions.

Majority and minority leaders- Are elected by their respective parties.

 Their duty is to manage legislation on the House floor.

 The majority leader is the majority party’s second in command.

Majority and minority whips- assistant floor leaders are responsible for keeping the leadership informed and persuading party members to vote along party lines.

Leadership Roles in the Senate

 There are 5 main leadership positions in the Senate:






President of the Senate. The Constitution assigns this position to the vice president of the U.S.

President of the Senate pro tempore. Is the most senior senator of the majority party and may preside over Senate sessions when the vice president is not there.

Majority leader. Serves as the spokesperson for the party that holds the most seats in the Senate. The majority leader must work with party members and the minority leader to move legislation to a vote.

Minority leader. This leader helps shape minority party policy and devise strategies for stopping majority-sponsored bills opposed by the minority party.

Majority and minority whips. The main duty of these assistant floor leaders is to stand in for the majority and minority leaders.

Congressional Leadership

The Congressional Committee System

 Congress has 5 types of committees that help assist in the lawmaking process:


Standing committees. Permanent committees that handle most legislative business. Each standing committee has its own broad area of responsibility, such as homeland security of foreign affairs. Another key duty is to gather information through hearings and investigations.

The Congressional Committee System





Subcommittees. Do the work of reviewing all proposed legislation.

Select or special committees. Formed occasionally by both houses to investigate specific problems. These committees are usually temporary. Joint committees. Permanent joint committees made up of members of both the House and Senate. Congress has a small number of these.

Conference Committees. It is a temporary kind of joint committee used to iron out (work out differences) versions of a bill passed by both the House and the Senate.

Congressional Committees

Staff and Support Agencies

 The House and Senate each employ around 1,000 committee staffers to support the work of their various committees.

 Representatives average about 16 staffers apiece, while senators average about 40 staff members each.

 Personal staff members perform tasks such as answering constituents questions to writing speeches and drafting bills.

Caucuses and Coalitions

 Members of Congress have formed over 100 unofficial groups called caucuses to peruse particular goals and interests.

11.4: The Work of Congress

 Members of Congress have two distinct but interrelated jobs:  they must represent their constituents in their districts or states, and;  they must perform their constitutional duties as national legislators.

The Powers of Congress

 Read subsection “The Powers of Congress” (

pages 212 – 213

), on section 11.4 and answer the following questions in your notebook. (You have 5 minutes)  According to Article I of the Constitution, what are the

specific, or enumerated, powers of Congress?

What part of the Constitution allows Congress to broaden its power beyond those enumerated powers?

The Powers of Congress

 Article I of the Constitution states that Congress shall have “all legislative powers”.

What are the specific, or enumerated, powers of Congress?

The specific powers given to Congress include the authority to: • Levy taxes • Borrow money • Regulate interstate commerce • Coin money • Declare war

(We call all of these “enumerated powers”)

The Powers of Congress

What part of the Constitution allows Congress to broaden its power beyond those enumerated powers?

 The Constitution authorizes Congress to “make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper” for carrying out those -enumerated powers-. This is known as the Elastic Clause because it broadens Congress’s power, allowing them to deal with future needs that could not be anticipated when the Constitution was written.

• The only catch is that these “future needs” (deemed as -implied powers-) must be linked to those enumerated powers.

How Congress Checks the Other Branches

Congress was given powers to check on the other 2 branches of government (executive and judicial branches).

 Create a simple diagram, by using page 213, that shows the six ways in which Congress checks the other two branches of government. Label each check, and indicate which other branch each check applies to.

(You have 5 minutes)

How Congress Checks the Other Branches

 Checking powers include the following:  Oversight. Congress oversees executive agencies.

     Confirmation. The senate must confirm, or approve, key officials appointed to office by the president.

Impeachment. The House of Representatives can impeach a federal official, including the president.

Ratification. The Senate must approve all treaties negotiated by the president before they become law.

Override. Congress can reverse a president’s veto of legislation.

Amendment. Congress can propose an amendment to the Constitution.

How Congress Checks the Other Branches

Page 213

Enacting Laws

    The checking powers of Congress also apply with the legislative branch.

 Both houses of Congress must agree on a bill offered by the house.

A bill may be introduced in either house of Congress.

 Upon introduction, they are labeled with the initials H.R. for the House of Representatives and S. for the Senate Most new bills are sent to a committee, where they are studied and reviewed.

If it survives, it is sent back to Congress for a debate and a vote.

Page 215

Levying Taxes

   Some of the bills that go through Congress are tax bills The power to tax is one of the most important powers of Congress Tax bills can only originate in the House Article I, Section 7

Levying Taxes

   Originally, government revenue -the money coming into the treasury- came from taxes on imported goods.

Today, the federal government relies largely on income taxes.

Tax dollars fund many important government programs and services that Americans depend on. For example:    National highway system National law enforcement Public education  National defense system

The Power of the Purse

 In addition to taxation, Congress has another important financial power: the power to spend Article I, Section 9  Appropriations are public funds allocated for a particular purpose by a legislature.  To fund any federal project, the government needs money, and Congress must approve this money.

Declaring War

    Congress has the power to declare war.

As commander in chief, the president also has a constitutional duty related to military conflicts.

U.S. soldiers have been sent into action abroad more than 200 times (act of president).

Congress has only officially declared war 5 times.

 The last time Congress declared war was in 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Declaring War

 Congress passed the War Powers Act (1973) which requires approval by Congress for any overseas troop deployment lasting longer than 90 days.

 Congress can stop short of issuing a formal declaration of war by authorizing military action by passing a joint resolution, or an official statement from both houses of Congress.

Draw the spoke diagram below in your notebook. Fill in each rectangle with a key power of Congress.

Include a brief explanation for each power of Congress.

(You have 6 minutes) Pages 214 - 216

Enacting laws: New bills are first sent to a committee for review. If different versions of the same bill pass the House and Senate, a conference committee reconciles the differences.

Power of the purse:

Congress gets its power to spend from the Constitution. Congress must appropriate money for any federal project.

Levying taxes:

According to the Constitution, tax bills can originate only in the House. The federal government relies largely on income taxes for revenue.

Declaring war: Congress and the president share war-making powers, which sometimes causes tension between the two branches.

Casework: The Care and Feeding of Constituents

 Members of Congress must find time for casework, or helping their constituents solve problems that involve the federal government.

 Citizens often need assistance in dealing with the complexities of federal agencies.

 For example, they may have not received their Social Security checks.

Casework: The Care and Feeding of Constituents

 Casework is a burden for many legislators, but it is a key part of representative government.

 Voters often reelect legislators that have listened to their needs.

 Legislators open offices in their district with staff that answer constituents questions.

Congressional Casework

Congressional Casework

Create a political cartoon that shows why casework is such an important aspect of being an effective legislator.

11.5: How State Legislatures Compare to Congress

 Create a Venn diagram comparing state legislatures with Congress. Identify at least three significant similarities and at least four important differences between the two. Be specific.

(Fill it up as we go through the presentation)

Difference s Similarities Differences Congress State

How State Legislatures Compare to Congress   Like Congress, state legislatures make laws and represent the voters in each state.

Every state except Nebraska has a bicameral legislature.

Shorter Sessions, Smaller Staff, and Lower Pay

  In general, state legislators meet for less time, have smaller staff members, and receive lower salaries than members of Congress.

State legislatures can be divided into 3 types:


Citizen legislatures. Members spend about half of their time as lawmakers. Used mainly in small population states.



Professional legislatures. Full-time lawmakers. Common in states with larger populations.

Hybrid legislatures. A mixture of the other 2 types of legislatures. Members spend 2/3 of their time on legislative business.

State Legislators

Shorter Sessions, Smaller Staff, and Lower Pay

    Out of these 3 types, professional legislatures are the most like Congress.

The amount of work that the U.S. Congress does is more though.

  Most sessions of Congress run from January into December.

Members of Congress spent more than 300 days a year performing legislative duties.

Professional state legislators an average of 9 staff assistants each compared to 16 in the House and 40 in the Senate.

Members of Congress receive larger salaries.

Turnover and Term Limits

 Another main difference is term limits.

 Unlike Congress, where legislators may serve an unlimited number of terms, many states limit the number of years legislators can remain in office.

 As of 2007, voters in 15 states had imposed term limits of various kinds on their lawmakers.

Turnover and Term Limits

 Advocates of term limits say that turnover in a legislature is beneficial.

  It eliminates career politicians who may lose touch with their constituency (people).

New faces, bring new ideas.

 Critics of term limits argue that term limits are undemocratic.

 It restricts the choices given to voters.

 It removes experienced lawmakers from office.

 Opponents of term limits claim that such a loss of experience can devastate a legislature.

Congress Similarities State Legislatures -Congress meet for more time each year than State legislatures does.

-In Congress, representatives average 16 for members of the U.S. House and 40 for U.S. senators.

-Members of Congress are paid significantly more than members of state legislatures.

-There are no term limits for members of Congress.

-Both make laws.

-Both represent the voters in the state or district. Except for Nebraska, both are bicameral.

-State legislatures meet for less time each year than Congress does.

-In state legislatures, representatives average from one to nine staff members.

-Members of state legislatures are paid significantly less than members of Congress.

-In many states, legislators have term limits.