ch 5 u.s. government democracy in action organization of congress
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- Ch 5 U.S. Government Democracy in Action Organization of Congress
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- From the Library of Congress Organization of Congress & Legislative Process - An Overview Organization of Congress & Legislative Process - An Overview
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- Congressional Membership Bicameral Patterned after English Parliament Has more power than any other branch
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- Congressional Sessions A term of Congress is for two years Each term - begins January 3 of odd numbered years Ex: The 107 th Term of Congress began January 3, 2001 Extra Credit: What Term is Congress currently serving?
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- Congressional Sessions Terms end in November/December (depends on workload) Each term has two sessions (each 1 year)
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- Congressional Sessions Congress is in session until members vote to adjourn Neither house can rest or adjourn for more than 3 days w/o other houses approval Congress can be called back for a special session by the President
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- House of Representatives Membership Seats per State - varies with population More Populated States = More Representatives Each state entitled to 1 seat minimum Extra Credit: How many Representatives are there currently?
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- House of Representatives Membership Qualifications Set by the Constitution Q: What Article? What Section? Must be at least 25 years old U.S. Citizens at least 7 years Must be Legal Residents of State electing them Usually claim Primary Residence in District they represent
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- Term of Office Elected for two-year terms Elections November of even numbered years Ex: November 2008, November 2010 Members begin serving January 3 rd following the November election
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- Term of Office The House The whole House of Representatives is up for election every two years in even numbered years Most are reelected (90%) = Continuity
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- Term of Office The House of Reps Governors appoint temporary replacement if a member is no longer serving the term until a Special Election is held. Note: Former Governor Blajovich of Illinois is no longer governor because he was accused of putting up Senator Obamas seat up for sale when Obama became President.
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- House Membership Number of Seats capped at 435 Representatives. (Territories & Washington, DC add 6 more but they do not vote on bills). Q: What Act set that limit? A: The Reapportionment Act of 1929 The Census count determines how the 435 seats are divided among the 50 states. Q: What is the name of that process? A: reapportionment
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- Redistricting The process of setting up new district lines after reapportionment
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- Redistricting Controversy #1 Districts can be unequal in size (large district has only 1 rep while a smaller one has 1 rep). So the larger district is really underrepresented while the smaller district has more political voice.
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- Redistricting Controversy #2 Gerrymandering-Drawing districts to favor a political partys power in Congress via packing Ex: Draw the boundary lines to include constituents (voters) of mostly one party cracking (pg 125-126) Ex: Draw the boundary lines to bust up a partys dominance.
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- U.S. Supreme Court on Redistricting The district must be: Compact (not too large) Contiguous (no parts separated all parts boundaries/lines must touch) Pg 127
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- The Senate Membership Qualifications Must be: At least 30 years old A U.S. resident for at least 9 years Elected by ALL THE VOTERS IN THAT STATE not by a district
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- The Senate Term of Office Serve 6-year terms Elections held every 2 years in November BUT unlike the House, ONLY 1/3 OF THE SENATE IS UP FOR ELECTION AT ONE TIME Term begins January 3 rd after the November election If a Senator ties during term, the governor appoints a replacement til next election.
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- Salary & Benefits Set by Congress BUT Congress cannot give itself a pay raise (27 th Amendment 1992) although it was proposed in 1789 by James Madison The PAY RAISE GOES INTO EFFECT after the NEXT ELECTION Q: How effective is the 27 th Amendment when most incumbents (politicians already in office) get reelected?
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- Salary & Benefits They get an automatic COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) added to pay to offset inflation Medical insurance and Medical Clinic A gym Free Postage (Franking Privilege) for official business & Free Stationery
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- Salary & Benefits Large Allowances (money to spend on): Staff Assistants Trips Home Telephones/Telegrams Newsletters An Income Tax Allowance for BOTH Homes Eligible to receive Pensions of $150,000 +
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- Privileges of Members Free from Arrest in all cases except treason, felony and breach of the peace While in Congress, on the way to/from Congress Cannot be sued for anything they say on the floor of The House or The Senate DOES NOT EXTEND to what is said OUTSIDE CONGRESS (Hutchinson v Proxmire, 1979)
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- Privileges Power of Exclusion The Senate & The House judge a members qualifications & whether to seat them by a majority vote Defined by Supreme Court Powell v McCormack Censure Majority Vote of Disapproval of actions Expel for serious offenses (treason, bribery) by 2/3 vote (Member is no longer in Congress).
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- Members of Congress Senate 100 Senators House of Representatives 435 Representatives PLUS NON-VOTING MEMBERS 1 Washington, DC 1 - Guam 1 America Samoa 1 Virgin Islands 1 Puerto Rico resident commissioner THEY CAN INTRODUCE BILLS, DEBATE, ATTEND SESSIONS & VOTE IN COMMITTEES
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- Characteristics Almost = Lawyers Many from banking, business, education Typically white, middle-aged males over 50
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- Reelection to Congress About 90% are reelected (incumbents are already in office) Q: Why? The public is more aware of incumbents than newbies PAC (Political Action Committees) fundraise to reelect them Gerrymandering Incumbents use their staff & office to solve problems for voters (creates voter loyalty) Since 1990s, easier to unseat incumbents
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- Congress Today What is the makeup of Congress today? Ethnicity Age Gender Which political party is the majority in: The Senate The House of Representatives TIP: Go online, look at Congressional Quarterly
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