Congress Flashcards

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  • Created by: bananaaar
  • Created on: 10-05-15 15:04
Committee System?
The committee system of congress is made up of many different types of committee, which perform legislative and investigatory functions. The most important type of committee is the standing committees which are policy specialists. Exec questioned.
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Seniority rule?
A rule stating that the chair of a congressional committee will be the member of the majority party with the longest continual service on that committee.
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A device by which an individual senator or group of senators can attempt to talk a Bill to death by using delaying tactics. It derives from senators’ right of unlimited debate. A 3/5 vote (i.e. 60 votes) is required to end a filibuster.
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Presidential veto?
A power by which a president may return a Bill to congress unsigned along with his reasons for objection. Congress may override a veto with a 2/3 vote in both houses.
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how legislators representconstituents (trustee model, delegate model and mandate model). Also be used in terms of who represents the electorate. This is called the resemblance model of representation,considers how representative leg is(race/gender)
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A failure to get action on policy proposals and legislation in Congress. It is exaggerated by divided government and partisanship.
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How many house members?
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Requirements of Representatives?
Must be over 25, US citizen for 7 years, be a resident in district.
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How many women in 113th congress reps?
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How many Blacks in 113th congress reps?
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How many hispanics in 13th congress reps?
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How many asians in 113th congress reps?
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Average age of 113th congress House?
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How many senators?
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Requirements of senators?
At least 30, US citizen for 9 years, be resident of state.
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How many women in 113th congress senate?
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How many Black senators 113th congress?
1 (none in 112th)
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How many hispanics in 113th congress senate?
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Average age of senate in 113th congress?
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How many educators in house 113th congress?
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How many mayors in 113th congress house?
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Former judges in house 113th congress?
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Accountants/business men in 113th congress? (house)
9 accountants, 187 businessmen.
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farmers in 113th congress house?
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How many ex house members in senate?
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Exclusive power of House?
Consider all money bills, impeach any member of the executive or judicial branch. Elect president if EC is deadlocked.
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Example of impeachment by house?
This power has been used 19 times since 1789. The most recent was federal judge Thomas Porteous in 2010. In 1998 the House impeached Clinton.
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Example of EC electing president?
This power has only been used twice, once in 1800 and once in 1824.
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Exclusive powers of senate?
Ratify treaties, confirm appointments, try impeachment, elect VP if EC is deadlocked.
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Example of senate ratifying treaties?
means that the president must keep the senate fully informed. For example, in 2010 votes by 71 votes to 26 to ratify the START treaty, negotiated with Obama and Russia.
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Example of senate confirming appointments?
For example in 2013 when Clinton resigned, Obama had to get his new SOS John Kerry approved. Robert Bork was rejected when he was nominated for the SC by Reagan as he was too conservative.
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Example of senate trying impeachment?
If they are found guilty by 2/3 majority, they are removed from office. For example in 2010 judge Thomas Porteous was found guilty on 4 counts, but senate acquitted Clinton in 1999.
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Concurrent powers of senate and house?
Pass legislation, override a veto, initiate constitutional amendments, confirm newly appointed VP, declare war,
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Example congress confirming VP?
The 25th amendment gave both Houses the power to confirm a newly appointed VP. This has occurred twice, in 1973 with Gerald Ford and 1974 with Nelson Rockefeller.
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Example of congress declaring war?
This has only occurred 5 times, the last time in 1941 during WW2 with Japan.
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Reasons why senate is more prestigious?
represent entire state, serve 6 year term, one out of 100, likely to chair a committee, greater name recognition, house progress to senate, more likely election candidates, often elected as VP, have exclusive powers.
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Example of senator representing entire state?
Adam Schiff represents 25th district in California, whereas Dianne Feinstein represents the entire state.
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Example of house members progressing to senate?
For example in 2013, there were 52 former House members elected to the senate but no ex senators in the House.
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Example of senators being more likely election candidates?
e.g. Obama, Clinton and McCain contested in their party nomination in 2008 and were all senators.
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Example of senators more likely to be VP?
Senators are more often elected as VP, e.g. Joe Lieberman (2000), John Edwards (2004), and Joe Biden (2008).
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Reasons why houses are equal?
Bills must g through both houses, both houses have powerful standing committees, both override veto, receive same salary, both houses concur in a declaration of war.
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Example of both houses needing 2/3 majority to override a veto?
For example in 2007, congress overrode Bush’s veto of Water Resources Development Bill.
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Salaries of houses?
Houses receive the same salary, for example in January 2012 it was $174,000. Except for the speaker whose salary is $235,000, and the leaders get $193,400.
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What is pork barrelling?
Pork Barrel politics is where small pet projects known as ‘earmarks’ are added to the appropriations Bill. Representatives are under more pressure to secure earmarks than senators as they get elected every 2 years.
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Why are politicians keen to reduce pork barrelling?
keen to reduce earmarks as they put more pressure on the federal budget.
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What was brought in to limit earmarks?
To limit earmarks, since 2007 the Office of Management and Budget publish all earmarks on a public website.
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Why may earmarks be a good thing?
persuades legislators to vote against interests/traditional position, its effective at federal and state level, for every no bridge to nowhere theres useful earmarks.
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Example of legislators voting against traditional interest?
For example in the Civil Rights Act 1964 Johnson needed as many votes as possible to overcome the southern Fillibuster in the senate. He did this by supporting a Central Arizona Project that the senators constituents desperately wanted.
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Example of earmark spending being effective?
In NYC, the state put as many uni campuses in as many districts as possible so the state system would have broad and durable support. The outcome was ongoing, bipartisan support for investment in higher education.
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Example of useful earmarks?
For every ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ there are earmarks that fund university research that play a vital role for Americans. Earmarks have funded lots of jobs, researched diseases, developed technologies and given opportunities to learn.
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What is redistricting?
US congressional district boundaries are redrawn after US census.. Redistricting is the responsibility of the state legislatures. Only seven states (such as Arizona and New Jersey) have bipartisan independent bodies with the sole purpose of redistricting.
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What is gerrymandering?
Legislators and political consultants decide which streets or neighbourhoods are in or out, specialists make the maps, and the public has little opportunity to weigh in. Districts are often crafted for political gain.
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Three main methods of manipulating district lines?
Spreading like-minded voters to dilute they're voting weight (cracking) Concentrating like minded voters into one district (packing) Bipartisan gerrymandering where political parties collude to maintain status quo and protect incumbents.
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Reform regarding gerrymandering?
California approved proposition 11 in 2010 which will give the future responsibility for drawing congressional districts to an independent commission. Joe Tanner proposed the Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act 2009.
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What was the Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act 2009?
The Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act 2009 which would have reduced the role of state legislators in drawing up congressional districts and would have created a panel in each state.
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How significant is redistricting and gerrymandering in influencing election results?
Ed Gillespie (R) stated that between 15 and 25 congressional seats are more likely to remain Republican or switch from the Democrats after redistricting.
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Evidence of changing election results due to redistricting?
Redistricting may have changed which party won the election in at least 26 House districts. Because of redistricting, it is likely that the Republicans won about six more seats overall in 2012 than they would have under the old district lines.
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Evidence of changing election results due to redistricting? R seats in 2012?
Where Republicans controlled redistricting, they likely won 11 more seats than they would have under the old district lines, including five seats previously held by Democrats.
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R's using redistricting?
Democrats also used redistricting to their advantage, but Republicans redrew the lines for four times as many districts as Democrats.
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Eg of republicans keeping seats?
Rep. Daniel Webster (R) defeated Val Demings (D).
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What did the Citizens Redistricting Commission do?
The Citizens Redistricting Commission drafted boundaries for state and congressional seats that kept like-minded communities together, creating a new Latino district in the eastern San Fernando Valley.
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How often is the speaker elected?
The House Speaker is elected by the entire House at the start of each congress (every 2 years). The constitution does not require the speaker to be a serving member of the House but all have been.
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Speaker's powers?
presiding officer, enforces rules and decides on points of order, refers bills to committees, appoint select committee and conference committee chairs, appoint majority party members of the House Rules Committee.
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What does constitution say about speaker?
According to the constitution the speaker is next in line for the presidency after the vice president. However the 25th amendment made this less significant as it required the office of the VP to be filled if a vacancy should occur.
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What happens when president and majority party are different?
speaker may act as a spokesperson for the minority party. This was the roll played by Republican John Boehner during the last 2 years of Obamas first term and the opening years of his second.
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First woman speaker?
2007 the first woman was elected as speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California. It is argued that she circled power in leadership circles. The speakers have a huge influence on who would chair in the standing committees. 'Friends of Nancy'.
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What to minority and majority leaders do?
day to day directors of operations, hold press briefings, liaison between capitol hill and white house,
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Why are minority/majority leaders important?
launching pad for a presidential candidate. For example Lyndon Johnson was a majority leader from 1955 to 1961. Democrat Dick Gephardt had served for 8 years as a minority leader before running in the 2004 presidential election.
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What is prestigious post of President Pro Tempore?
which is filled by the member of the majority party with the longest continuous service in the chamber. In December 2012 Patrick Leahy took this position as he was first elected to the senate in 1974. The constitution third in line to the pres.
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What are standing committees?
They are permanent, policy-specialist committees, for example the House ‘budget’ committee is chaired by Paul Ryan. Most are divided into sub-committees such as ‘Energy and Environment’.
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How many members in standing committees?
A Senate committee has around 18 members whereas a House committee has about 30-40. The party balance is the same as the balance in the chamber.
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Functions of standing committees?
Conduct committee stage of bills in legislative process. Conduct investigations with the committees policy area. Senate committees have a third function which is to begin the confirmation of presidential appointments.
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What is the House Rules Committee?
Responsible for prioritising bills coming from the committee stage onto the House floor for the second reading. The Rules Committee is much smaller than others, with just 13 members i 2013 - 9 Rs and 4 Ds-chaired by Pete Sessions of Texas.
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Why is chair of HRC influential?
make the decision on what Bills are to be prioritised and debated first.
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What are conference committees?
The two versions of Bills are often different and if the differences cant be reconciled informally then a conference committee is set up. Conference committees are important as they are likely to draw up what will become the final Bill.
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Check on conference committee?
Power checked by the ability of the House and the Senate to refuse to sign up to the compromised Bill. However the committees are used much less frequently nowadays as other ways are used to resolve differences in the Bills passed by both chambers.
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What are select committees?
They are all ad-hock set up to investigate a particular issue. For example, in 2011 following the debt crisis, a joint select committee on deficit reduction was set up.
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Select committee on deficit?
Made up of 3 members of each party from both chambers, the 12 member committee was meant to be a single, bipartisan proposal for deficit reduction for the next 10 years, but the Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on a common plan.
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Committee chairs?
Those who chair committees are always drawn form the majority party in the House, thus in the 113th congress all the senate standing committees were chaired by Democrats and the House, Republicans.
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Limitations on committee chairs?
Republicans imposed a 6 year term limit on committee and sub-committee chairs. This is why seven of the 18 House standing Committees had to select new Republican chairs.
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Chair standing committees powers?
control agenda, decide when committee meets, control committees budget, influence sub-committees, supervise committee staff, spokesperson to congress/white house, make requests to HRC for scheduling legislation, report legislation to chamber.
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Stages of Bill becoming a law?
First reading, committee stage, timetabling, second reading, third reading, conference committee, presidential action.
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What happens at first reading?
A formality, no debate or vote. In the House it involves placing a Bill on the clerk’s desk and in the senate it involves reading the title of the Bill. Bills are then sent to the appropriate committee. Only 2-4% of Bills are made into law, the 112th
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What happens at committee stage?
Many are pigeon holed, but those with lots of support are given hearings. The committee is made up of specialists and once the hearing is complete, the committee has a ‘mark up’ session (where changes are made) before reporting the Bill.
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What happens at timetabling?
In the House, the House Rules Committee allows some bills through but holds some back. House members may also use the discharge process (petition signed by absolute majority). Once this is done the bill will automatically be on the floor for debate.
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What happens at second reading?
First opportunity for full chamber debate, i.e. ‘Committee of the Whole House’. In both Houses further amendments are usually made and votes are taken at the end of the debate. In the senate filibusters occur,
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Example of a filibuster?
Bernie Sanders spoke against a tax deal for 8 1/2 hours in 2010. A filibuster can be ended by a ‘closure’, where a petition is signed and must get 3/5 vote. In 110th Congress 139 closure motions were put forward and 112 voted on.
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What happens at third reading?
Final opportunity to debate the Bill. A further vote is taken.
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What happens at conference committee?
If a bill was passed in two different forms in each House, a conference committee is set up to reconcile the differences. E.g. Obamacare had 2 different bills being passed through each house. Nowadays only 1 in 10 bills are sent to conference committ
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Presidential action?
The president has 4 options; Sign Bill into law, Leave it on his desk which will become law in 10 days, may veto within 10 days of reading the Bill, use a pocket veto is at the end of a congressional session.
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Factors that influence voting in congress?
Executive and administration, personal views and peer pressure, political parties, constituents, pressure groups.
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Example of executive influencing voting in congress?
Republican John Barrow votes with Obama 85% of the time thus has been persuaded to vote on his party lines.
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Example of personal views/peer pressure influencing voting in congress?
More mature members of congress try to influence younger members of their view and how it may help their constituents. Personal beliefs are important as it influences their voting. Angus King is an independent but always votes in a Left Wing way.
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Example of political parties influencing voting in congress?
A ‘Party Vote’ is when the majority of one party vote against the majority of another. Usually only 53% of votes are party votes, but in 2011 there were 75%. However moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins often votes with Democrats.
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Example of constituents influencing voting in congress?
Republican Wayne Gilchief and Democrat Albert Wynn were both defeated in 2008 due to their constituents being too out of touch with the wishes of voters for being too liberal or too conservative.
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Example of PGs influencing voting in congress?
They make direct contact with congress members and their staff and attempt to gain support. They can make or break congressmen, with the Sierra Club publishing the ‘dirty dozen’ list. IN 2012, only one of the congressmen listed was re-elected.
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Seniority rule?


A rule stating that the chair of a congressional committee will be the member of the majority party with the longest continual service on that committee.

Card 3




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Card 4


Presidential veto?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5




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