Unit 4: Congress Key Questions

How is Congress organized?

Bicameral: 100 seats in the Senate (2 seats per state), 435 seats in the House (number per state based off state population)

What are the expressed and implied powers of Congress?

Implied: Not expressed in Constitution but allowed by "Necessary but Proper" Clause1. Support Public Schools2. Welfare Programs3. Public Housing4. Maintain the Federal Reserve Board 5. Prohibit discrimination in Public places; restaurants6. Power to draft people into the armed forces7. Power to limit number of Immigrants to the U.S.8. Power to establish a minimum wage9. Monitor Air and Water Pollution10. Power to regulate monopolies that limit competitionExpressed:1. Power to tax and spend for the defense & general welfare of the U.S.2. Power to borrow money3. Power to regulate foreign and interstate commerce4. Establish naturalization and bankruptcy laws5. Power to coin money6. Punish counterfeiters of money and securities (stocks)7. Establish post offices8. Grant patents and copyrights9. Create courts below the Supreme Court10. Define and punish pirates & felonies of the high seas11. Declare war12. Raise and support an army13. Provide and maintain a navy14. Make laws governing the armed forces (different from civilian law)15. Provide and call for the militia/National Guard to execute federal laws16. Organize, arm, and discipline the militia17. Govern the District of Columbia18. Provide for the laws necessary and proper for carrying out all other listed powers

What are the four criticisms of Congress?

1. Too much pork-barrel spending by Congress2. Members don't listen to their constituents 3. Legislative process is too complicated4. Congress is run by a few big interest groups

What are the differences in the House and the Senate?

(Senate/House)100/345 members6/2 year termsthird/all seats up for electionstates/districts electoral size30/25 years old9/7 years of citizenshipamendments/revenue bill start in each oneflexible/strict limitsweak/strong leadershipweak/strong committee systemyes/no bill ridersstrong/weak staffmore/less press coverage

What are the effects of reapportionment and redistricting cases of the 1960s?

Each legislative district and state must have approximately the same population.

What checks does Congress have over the Executive and Judicial branches?

Impeaching officialsApproving treatiesPassing lawsOriginating spending bills

How are committees organized and how do committees influence the passage of bills?

Each committee has a chair (from the majority) and a ranking (from the minority). They can either pass the bill (happens less than 10%), mark it up, amend it, pigeon-hole, or kill it.

How is Congress made up in terms of gender, race, professions, and religion in terms of its members?

House: 363 men and 82 women; 362 whites, 42 African-Americans, 24 Hispanic/Latino, 6 AsiansSenate: 80 men and 20 women; 95 whites, 3 Hispanic/Latino, 2 African-AmericansCongress: Protestant: 54.7%, Baptist: 12.4%, Methodists: 10.7%, Presbyterian: 8.1%, Roman Catholic: 30.1%, Jewish: 8.4%; 269 state legislatures, 225 lawyers, 214 public service/politics, 201 business, 98 education, 121 military service

What are the impacts of the leadership roles in Congress?

Usually, if a bill is introduced by the opposition, it can be easily shot down. Also, since the leadership roles are held by the majority, most of what is passed is going to help the majority to stay the majority.

How does a bill become a law?

1. Introduce a bill2. Move to committee3. Call witness4. Committee action5. Floor action6. Vote7. Conference committee8. Present bill

Why do so few bills become laws?

Process is long and complicated and at any step it can be killed, delayed, or changedIt has so many step so sponsors must be willing to bargain and compromiseSome introduce bills they know will never become laws

Why would a member of Congress introduce a bill that has no chance of passing?

To make their constituents happyTo help others see the corruptness with some of the members since they won't pass a necessary bill