What are the exclusive powers of the Senate?
- Confirm presidential appointments
- Ratify treaties
- Try cases of impeachment
- Elect vice-president if Electoral College is deadlocked
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What are the exclusive powers of the HoR?
- Initiate money bills
- Elect president if Electoral College is deadlocked
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What are the concurrent powers of congress?
- Pass legislation
- Override the presidential veto
- Initiate constitutional amendments
- Declare war
- Confirm a newly appointed vice-president
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How many members in the House of Representatives?
States are represented proportionally with 435 members
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How many members in the Senate?
- States are represented equally (2 per state) so 100 members
- In 2013 there were 52 ex-house members in the senate
- In 2012, 12 House members ran for the Senate, 6 Reps. and 6 Dems. 1 Rep. and 5 Dems. won.
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Is the Senate more prestigious than the House?
- Senators represent the entire state whilst House members only represent a Congressional district e.g. Schiff 28th Congress of California is 1/435, Feinstein represents whole state 1/100
- Senators serve longer terms
- Senators are only one of one hundred e.g. Schiff - 2 year term, Feinstein - 6 year term
- Senators are more likely to chair a committee or sub-committee or hold some leadership position
- Senators enjoy greater name recognition state-wide and even nation-wide
- The senate is seen as a recruiting pool and launch pad for presidential and vice-presidential candidates e.g. six Senators and two former ran for president in 2008
- Senators enjoy significantly exclusive powers
- House members frequently seek election to the Senate e.g. 2012 there were 52 former House members in the Senate
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Is the Senate more prestigious than the House?
- Both houses have equal power in the passage of legislation - Congress's key function
- Both houses must approve the initiation of constitutional amendments
- Members of both houses receive equal salaries
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What factors affect congressional member's votes?
- Political party
- Constituents - representation to keep them happy
- The administration - persuasion by the members of the executive branch
- Pressure groups
- Colleagues and staff - so many votes that Congressmen have to rely on eachother for information
- Personal beliefs e.g. such as abortion or capital punishment
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What is pork barreling?
- Pork-barrel projects are added to the federal budget by members of the appropriation committees of Congress
- This allows delivery of federal funds to the local district or state of the appropriation committee member, often accommodating major campaign contributors
- To a certain extent, a member of Congress is judged by their ability to deliver funds to their constituents.
- The Big Dig was a project to relocate an existing 3.5-mile (5.6 km) section of the interstate highway system underground. It ended up costing $14.6 billion, or over $4 billion per mile. Tip O'Neill (D-Mass), after whom one of the Big Dig tunnels was named, pushed to have the Big Dig funded by the federal government while he was the Speaker of the House
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What are standing committees?
- Exist in both houses
- Permanent, policy-specialist committees
- Typical Senate committee - 18 members
- Typical House committee - 30-40 members
- Party balance is in the same proportion as that which exists within the chamber as a whole
- 113th Congress Dem. majority in the Senate, and Rep. majority in the House
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What are the functions of standing committees?
- Conduct the committee stage of bills in the legislative process
- To conduct investigations within the committee's policy area
- In the Senate they begin the confirmation process of numerous presidential appointments - only a recommendatory vote but rarely overturned
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What is the House Rules Committee?
- One of the standing committees but performs a different function
- Prioritises bills coming from the committee stage on to the House floor for their second reading
- A vital role due to the sheer number of bills in the queue
- Much smaller and skewed to the majority party e.g. 2013 9 Reps. and 4 Dems.
- Chair of this committee is considered one of the most influential posts in Congress
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What are conference committees?
- Ad hoc and only set up to consider one particular bill
- Reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the same bill
- Members are drawn from each house
- Likely to draw a final version of the bill
- Power is checked as one house may refuse to sign the changes
- Rarely used nowadays as there are other ways to resolve issues
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What are select committees?
- Known as 'special' or 'investigative' committees
- Nearly all are ad hoc
- They are set up when either the investigation does not fall within the policy area of one standing committee or it's too time consuming for a standing committee
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- Those who chair standing committees are always drawn from the majority party in that chamber e.g. 2013-14 all Senate chairs - Dem. all House chairs Rep.
- The seniority rule - a rule stating that the chair of Congressional standing committee will be the member of the majority party with the longest continuous service on that committee
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What is the legislative process in Congress?
- First reading
- Committee stage
- Second reading
- Third reading
- Conference committee
- Presidential action
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What is a filibuster?
- A device by which an indicidual senator, or group of senators, can attempt to talk a bill to death by using delaying tactics
- A three-fifths vote is reguired to a end a filibuster
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