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· 3 branches of US federal government = congress,
presidency and supreme court
· Congress = legislative branch (Place where law are
· Contains senate(100) and House of
representatives (435)
· The work of congress can appear slow
· The founding fathers wanted a federal
government characterised by limited government
and by checks and balances…read more

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Structure of congress
· Congress is bicameral: it is made up of 2 houses
· This arrangement was one of the compromises at the
Philadelphia convention
­ Some delegates wanted states to be equally represented in the
legislature & wanted proportional representation
­ In the lower house (representatives) states represented proportionally
to their population
­ In the upper house (senate) the states would be represented equally
· Some delegates wanted the legislature directly elected & others
wanted the legislators to be indirectly elected
­ House = directly elected but the senate indirectly elected appointed by
the state legislatures
­ This arrangement continued until 1914 when as a result of the 17th
Amendment the first direct elections were held for the senate
· The number of representatives for each state is reapportioned
after each 10 yearly census…read more

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Membership of congress
· Constitution- certain requirement
· Women under represented
· In 1992 the Democrats tried to focus on the issue and
declared 1992 the year of women, as a result the number
of women in congress doubled
· Record number of women in both houses at the start of
113th congress: 78 (H)(18%)- 25 D & 20 R and 20 (S) (20%)
-16 D, 4 R
· The 110th congress for the first time in 12 years the
democrats regained control of congress, in the House
which elected its first woman speaker and the House rules
committee also had its first woman chair…read more

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Membership of congress
· Republicans back in control of the House of
representatives all standing committee
chairmanships have reverted to male occupants
· Senate (January 2013) six standing committees
had a woman in chair- Agriculture, Appropriations,
Budget, Environment, Rules and administration
and Small business
· Women are also under-represented in the pool of
recruitment, state legislatures
· Following the 2012 elections only 24% of state
legislatures were women…read more

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Membership of Congress
· Representation by race is much better in the House of
representatives because the federal courts created `majority-
minority' districts and they are often geographically distorted
· Low levels of representation of African-Americans in state
· In 2008 only 16 states did African-Americans make up more than
10% of the state legislature
· 28 of the current 31 Hispanic house members come from 9 states
with California, Texas and Florida accounting for 20 of them
· In the 113th congress 3 states were represented in the Senate by
Hispanic-American- Florida, New Jersey and Texas
· In 2013 there were no former senators but there were 52 ex
house members in the senate
­ The reasons why house members seek election in the senate have a lot
to do with the powers of the respective houses…read more

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