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Ap Government Test Review Essay

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AP Government Chapter 12 Notes: The Congress
* Members of the public hold the institution in relatively low regard while expressing satisfaction with their individual representatives. * If the Federal bureaucracy makes a mistake, the senator’s or representative’s office tries to resolve the issue. What most Americans see of Congress, therefore, is the work of their own representatives in their home states. * Why Was Congress Created?

* Congress was created to work not just for local constituents but also for the nation as a whole. * The Founders of the American republic believed that the bulk of the power that would be exercised by a national government should be in the hands of the legislature. * The leading role envisioned for Congress in the new government is apparent from its primacy in the Constitution. * Article I deals with the structure, the powers, and the operation of Congress. * Bicameral legislature – Senate and House of Representatives * The two chambers of Congress reflected the social class biases of the founders. * They wished to balance the interests and the numerical superiority of the common citizens with the property interests of the less numerous landowners, bankers, and merchants. * This goal was achieved by providing in Sections 2 and 3 of Article I that members of the House of Representatives should be elected directly by “the people,” whereas members of the Senate were to be chosen by the elected representatives sitting in the state legislatures, who were more likely to be members of the elite. * With the passage of the 17th amendment in 1913, the Senators are also to be elected directly by the people. * The logic of separate constituencies and separate interests underlying the bicameral Congress was reinforced by differences in length of tenure. * Members of the House of Representatives are required to face the electorate every two years. * Senators could serve for a much more secure term of six years – even longer than the four-year term provided for the President. * Terms are staggered so that only 1/3 of the senators would face the electorate every two years, along with all of the House members. * The Powers of Congress

* The Constitution is both highly specific and extremely vague about the powers that Congress may exercise. * The first 17 clauses of Article I, Section 8, specify most of the enumerated powers of Congress – that is, powers expressly given to that body. * The right to impose taxes and import tariffs (one of the most important of the domestic powers) * Borrow money

* Regulate interstate commerce and international trade (one of he most important of the domestic powers) * Establish procedures for naturalizing citizens
* Make laws regulating bankruptcies
* Coin and print money and regulate its value
* Establish standards of weights and measures
* Punish counterfeiters
* Establish post routes
* Regulate copyrights and patents
* Establish the federal court system
* Punish pirates and other committing illegal acts on the high seas * Declare war (most important foreign policy power) * Raise and regulate an army and a navy
* Call up and regulate the state militias to enforce laws, to suppress insurrections, and to repel invasions * Govern the District of Columbia
* Congress is also able to establish rules for its own members, to regulate the electoral college, and to override a presidential veto. * Some functions are restricted to only one chamber. * Under Article II, Section2, the Senate must advise on, and consent to, the ratification of treaties and must accept or reject presidential nominations of ambassadors, Supreme Court justices, and “all other officers of the United States.” * The Senate may delegate to the president, the courts, or department heads the power to make lesser appointments. * Congress may regulate the extent of the Supreme Court’s authority to review cases decided by the lower courts, regulate relations between states, and propose amendments to the Constitution. * The amendments provide for other congressional powers * Congress must certify the election of a president and vice president or itself choose these officers if no candidate has a majority of the election vote (12th amendment) * Congress may levy an income tax (16th amendment) * Congress will determine who will be acting president in case of the death or incapacity of the President or vice president (20th amendment, Sections 3 & 4, and 25th amendment, Sections 2, 3, and 4. * Congress explicitly is given the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of several other amendments. * Necessary and Proper Clause (or elastic clause) – the power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers of Article I and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or any department or officer thereof. * This clause sets the stage for a greatly expanded role for the national government relative to the states. * It also constitutes, at least in theory, a check on the expansion of presidential powers. * The Functions of Congress

* The Law-making Function – requires decisions about the size of the federal budget, about healthcare reform and gun control, and about long term prospects for war or peace. * Not all laws are initiated by Congress. Most of the bills Congress acts on originate in the executive branch, and many other bills are traceable to interest groups and political party organizations. * Through the processes of compromise and logrolling (offering to support a fellow member’s bill in exchange for that member’s promise to support your bill in the future), as well as debate and discussion, backers of legislation attempt to fashion a winning majority coalition. * Service to Constituents – individual members of Congress are expected by their constituents to act as brokers between private citizens and the federal government. * Casework is the usual form taken by this function of providing service to constituents. * Ombudsperson – a person who hears and investigates complaints by private individuals against public officials or agencies. This role for congressmen strongly benefits the members of congress – helps them get re-elected if they are doing good deeds for their constituents. * The Representation Function – generally, representation means that the many competing interests in society should be represented in Congress. It follows that Congress should be a body acting slowly and deliberately and that its foremost concern should be to maintain a carefully crafted balance of power among competing interests. * The Trustee View of Representation – legislators should act as trustees of the broad interests of their entire society and that they should vote against the narrow interests of their constituents as their conscience and their perception of national needs dictates. * The Instructed-Delegate View of Representation—the notion that congressmen should behave as instructed delegates. That is, they should mirror the views of the majority of the constituents who elected them to power in the first place. * Generally, most legislators hold neither a pure trustee view nor a pure instructed-delegate view. Typically, they combine both perspectives in a pragmatic mix. * The Oversight Function – oversight of the bureaucracy is essential if the decisions made by Congress are to have any force. Oversight is the process by which Congress follows up on the laws it has enacted to ensure that they are being enforced and administered n the way Congress intended. Oversight is related to the concept of constituency service, particularly when Congress investigates alleged arbitrariness or wrongdoing by bureaucratic agencies. This is done by: * Holding committee hearings and investigations

* Changing the size of an agency’s budget
* Cross-examining high-level presidential nominees to head major agencies * The Public-Education Function – educating the public is a function that is exercised whenever congress holds public hearings, exercises oversight over the bureaucracy, or engages in committee and floor debate on such major issues and topics as political assassinations, aging, illegal drugs, or the concerns of small businesses. * Congress also decides what issues will come up for discussion and decision -- agenda setting – is a major facet of its public education function. * The Conflict-Resolution Function – Congress is commonly seen as an institution for resolving conflicts within American society. * This puts Congress in the role of trying to resolve differences among competing points of view by passing laws to accommodate as many interested parties as possible. * House-Senate Differences

Differences between the House and Senate
HOUSE | SENATE |
Members chosen from local districts | Members chosen from an entire state | Two-year term | Six-year term |
Originally elected by voters | Originally (until 1913) elected by state legislatures | May impeach (indict) federal officials | May convict federal officials of impeachable offences | Larger (435 voting members) | Smaller (100 members) |

More formal rules | Fewer rules and restrictions |
Debate limited | Debate extended |
Less prestige and less individual notice | More prestige and more media attention | Originates bills for raising revenues | Has power to advise the president on, and to consent to, presidential appointments and treaties | Local or narrow leadership | National leadership |

More partisan | Less party loyalty |
* Size and Rules
* The House has 435 members, plus delegates from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands * The Senate has 100 members
* Greater number of formal rules are needed to govern activity in the House due to its size * Looser procedures can be followed in the less crowded Senate * This difference is most obvious in the rules governing debate on the floors of the two chambers: * Senate permits extended debate on all issues that arise before it * The House operates with an elaborate system in which its Rules Committee normally proposes time limitations on debate for any bill. * As a result, the House is usually able to act faster on legislation than the Senate. * Debate and Filibustering

* Filibustering in the Senate is unlimited debate to halt action on a particular bill. * Under Rule 22, debate may be ended by invoking cloture, or shutting off discussion on a bill. Amended in 1975 and 1979, Rule 22 states that debate may be closed off on a bill if 16 senators sign a petition requesting it and if, after 2 days have elapsed, 3/5 of the entire membership (60 votes) vote for cloture. After cloture is invoked, each senator may speak on a bill for a maximum of one-hour before a vote is taken. * In 1979, the Senate extended Rule 22 to provide that a final vote must take place within 100 hours of debate after cloture has been imposed. * Prestige – House of Representatives generally cannot achieve as much individual recognition and public prestige as can members of the senate (because of their size). Senators, especially those who openly express presidential ambitions, are better able to gain media exposure and to establish careers as spokespersons for large national constituencies. * Congresspersons and the Citizenry: A Comparison

* Government institutions are given life by the people who work in them and shape them as political structures. * Members of the House and Senate are not typical American citizens. * Congressional Elections

* Congressional elections are operated by the individual state governments, which must conform to rules established by the U.S. Constitution and by national statutes. * The Constitution states that House of Representatives are to be elected every second year by popular ballot, and the number of seats awarded to each state is to be determined by the result of the decennial census (every 10 years). Each state having at least 1 representative. * Senators are elected by popular vote (since passage of 17th amendment) every six years; approximately 1/3 of the seats are chosen every 2 years. Each state has 2 senators. * Under Article I, Section 4, of the Constitution, state legislatures are given control over “the times, places, and manner of holding elections for senators and Representatives.” * Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations. * Candidates for Congressional Elections – are likely to be very successful individuals who have been active in politics before. They may be thinking about a House seat as a steppingstone to future political office as a senator, governor, or presidential candidate. * Elections are very expensive. Th...

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