Pressure groups of the USA: Impact on government

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  • Impact on government
    • Congress
      • PGs make direct contact with members of congress, as well as senior members of staff.
      • Contact relevant congressional committees - this provides PGS with the most significant access point. Committees are small so its not difficult for PGs to form a close relationship.
        • IT WORKS BOTH WAYS: not only do lobbyists contact members of congress to lobby for their policy position, but members of Congress contact lobbyists as a source of information & support
      • PGs attempt to organised constitutents to write to, telephone, email or visit their members of congress to express either support for or opposition to a certain policy.
      • PGs publicise the voting records of House & Senate members, sometimes offering their own rankings, & at election time they endorse supportive & oppose non-supportive incumbents by fundraising & media advertising.
    • Executive
      • PGs seek to maintain strong ties with relevant executive departments, agencies & regulatory commissions.This is especially the case when it comes to the regulatory work of the federal government - regulations for example, regarding health & safety at work, business, the transport & communications industries & the environment.
      • Problems can emerge when regulatory bodies are thought to have too cosy a relationship with the particular group that they are meant to be regulating. Are they acting as watchdogs or lapdogs?
      • There is a close link between 'producer groups' - such as companies, labour unions or small business federations - & relevant government departments & agencies seeking protection, funding subsidies or price guarantee mechanisms.
      • The white House might use PGs for support
        • In 2005, George W Bush's political director had frequent contacts with Christian Right Groups in what turned out the an unsuccessful effort to reassure them that the president's nominee for the S/C, Harriet Miers, was a like-minded conservative who could be trusted to act in their interests in court.
    • Judiciary
      • PGs take interest in the nominations the president makes to the federal courts, especially those to the S/C
      • The American Bar Association evaluates the professional qualifications of nominees & their evaluation can play a significant role in the confirmation process conducted by the senate.
      • PGs can hope to influence the judiciary by offering "amicus curia" briefings. Through these, PGs have an opportunity to present their views to the court in writing before oral arguments are heard. Used during civil rights of racial minorities, abortion & 1st amendment.
      • Brown v Board of Education of Topeka - was brought by the NAACP, which saw it as a way of effecting changes in the educational rights of blacks that could not be done through congress or state governments.
    • State government
      • Different states have a different manufacturing base to their economy: the high-tech industries of Silicon Valley in California; the tobacco industry of states such as Virginia & the Carloinas; Sugar in Florida; oil in Alaska; coal in West Virginia; the logging industry in Oregon & Washington.
      • Business, trade & labour groups therefore focus their lobbying in those states where their industries are most centred.
      • They lobby state governors, state legislators & their staff, & state judges. States also vary as to how realitvely weak or powerful the state governor is. Likewise the state legislature varies and in some states is in session for only a few weeks a year.


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