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Terms in this set (48)

~ Success of incumbents:
1) voters know how the incumbents vote on important issues and agree with stands (usually not the case: citizens don't know who they are/stands - only 28% can name representatives in Congress)
2) voter assessments of presidential candidates influence their voting for Congress - just stories
3) voters are motivated by pocketbooks - members of Congress do not gain or lose many votes as a result of the economy
4) Members of Congress engage in 3 Primary activities that increase probability for reelection: other events help too:
~ most congressional ads take place between elections in the form of contact with constituencies - VISIBILITY
~ work hard to get known - go home and mail ads
~ technology helps - track interests of individual voters, file info into databases, send emails or call to engage voters in what they are interested in
~ call 100s of households at the same time with recorded messages or conference calls - figure out what interests voters
~ all this tech = detailed list of the specific interests of 1000s of would-be voters
~ email = personal interaction
~ enhancing their standing with constituents through service to individuals and district
~ members of Congress can go to voters and stress their policymaking record and stand on new issues but enemies are also made
~ a congressperson can almost never show that he/she was solely responsible for a major policy
~ can't promise too much either 1/535
~ servicing the constituency ALWAYS makes friends though casework and pork barrel
~ casework - trouble getting SS check? call congressperson - Congress members can take credit for these favors
~pork barrel - winning federal funds for states and districts - love taking the credit for community projects
~ with ads and credit claiming, incumbents are more well known than opponents
~ getting things done for folks at home = +
~ even if (when establishing public image), congresspeople emphasize experience, hard work, trustworthiness, and service to constituencies, they must take positions on policies when they vote and respond to questions
~ positions they take can affect the outcome of the election (more likely in Senate)
~ incumbents scare off potentially effective opponents
~ the ones who do run are not well known or well qualified and lack experience, organization and financial backing
~ lack of adequate campaign funds = burden
~ challengers need $$$$$ to compensate for "free" recognition incumbents receive from ads and credit claiming
~ $$$$$$$$$ to elect Congress
~ 2009-2010 = $2 billion
~ challengers have to raise large sums if they hope to defeat an incumbent
~ more $ spent = more votes
~ $ = name recognition and chance to be heard
~ challengers are usually outspent by incumbents 2:1
~ the candidate who spends the most $ usually wins but prolific spending is no guarantee for success...
~ Bicameral legislature (Neb = one house - unicameral)
~ bicameral is due to the Connecticut Compromise at the Constitutional Convention - each state = 2 senators and # of representatives a state is determined by its population
~ creating a bicameral Congress = another check and balance - no bill can be passed unless both houses agree
~ each and veto the other
~ 4x the size of the Senate and more institutionalized - more centralized, hierarchical and disciplined
~ party loyalty to leadership = more common
Leaders in House do more leading than Senate leaders (#)
~ 1st term reps = less power and seen not heard
~ House and Senate set own agendas with committees to winnow down 1000s of bills introduced
~ unique to House = House Rules Committee (agenda setting)
~ House Rules Committee = "traffic cop" - gives each bill a "rule" - schedules the bill on the calendar, allots time for debate, and sometimes specifies what kinds of amendments may be offered. - opportunities for minorities to change bills
~ responsive to House leadership - Speaker of House appoints committee's members
~ Framers = Senate would protect elite interests and counteract House tendencies to protect the interests of the masses
~ Gave House the power to initiate all revenue bills and to impeach officials, but gave Senate the power to ratify all treaties, confirm important presidential nominations, and to try impeached officials
~ when one party controls both chambers, Senate = liberal
~ differences between chambers = organization and decentralized power
~ Senate = smaller than the House - less centralized and less disciplined
~ Senators nearly = power to existing Senators - can get chair to key sub-committees
~ party leaders do what the House Rules Committee does
~ filibuster - senators can talk as long as they want (unlike House) - talk the bill to death (wait until Senators give up)
~ 60 members can halt a filibuster - CLOTURE!!
~ many don't vote for cloture = set a precedent to be used against them when they want to filibuster
~ used by minority to defeat a majority ... democratic?? - today, used as the first weapon on even trivial matters ex of an issue. civil rights
~ each senator has 6 opportunities to filibuster 1 bill
~ a senator could also threaten filibuster to gain concessions on a bill he/she opposes
~ if the minority blocks the majority, why does the majority not change the rules to prevent filibuster
~ changing the rules requires 67 votes
~ difficult to get 2/3 of the Senate to agree on a controversial matter
~ every senator known that they could be a minority on an issue and filibustering = powerful
~ filibuster = powerful weapon for defending interests
~ Americans = worried about gridlock
~ Senators = concerned about allowing senators to block bills they oppose than with expediting the passage of legislation a majority favors
~ w/o filibuster = majority win and gridlock = down, BUT minorities lose
~ leading 535 congresspeople is not easy
~ much of Congress leadership = party leadership
~ few formal posts whose occupants are chosen by nonparty procedures
~ people with real power = those whose party put them there
~ Speaker of the House - most important leader of the House, only office mandated by the Constitution
~ Before each Congress begins, the majority party presents its candidate - shoo-in
~ Typically, the Speaker is a senior member of the party - before = king of the congressional mountain
~ Revolt in 1910 whittled down the Speaker's powers (given to committees)
~ 60 years later, Speaker got them back
~Powers of the Speaker:
1) Presides over House when in session
2) Plays a major role in making committee assignments - coveted by members = electoral advantage
3) Appoints/plays a key role in appointing party's legislative leaders and the party leadership staff
4) Exercises substantial control over which bills get assigned to which committees
~ Speaker also has informal powers - when the Speaker's party differs from the President's party, Speaker = national spokesperson for the party; evening news
~ Good speaker knows members well - past, ambitions, and pressures
~ majority leader - main stepping stone to Speaker - elected by party
~ whips - report the views and complaints of the party rank and file back to the leadership
~minority party is also organized - ready to take over Speakership and key posts if they win a majority in the House
~ minority leader - both the minority leader and the whips operate like majority leader and whips
~ CP's only constitutionally defined job = serve as president of the Senate
~ VPs alight senatorial chores (except when their vote can break a tie)
~ VPs are active in representing the President's views to Senators
~ Senate majority leader and whip = workhorse of the party: getting votes, scheduling floor action, and influencing committee assignments
~ minority leader has similar responsibilities with minority whip
~ power is widely dispersed in the Senate: party leaders must appeal broadly for support - speak to US
~ Despite stature and power - congressional leaders cannot always move troops
~ power is decentralized in both chambers (esp Senate)
~ leaders are elected by party members and must remain responsive to them
~ leaders cannot administer severe punishments to those who do not support the party's stand
~ no one expects members to vote against constituents interests - majority pleader
~ congressional parties = strong = enforce strict policy loyalty and better able to keep promises to voters
~ strict party loyalty = difficult for members to break from the party line to represent constituents needs
~ party leadership (House) = more effective recently
~ greater policy agreement within each party and greater difference between the parties have encouraged members to delegate power to leaders
~ this delegation makes it easier for the Speaker to exercise prerogatives (assigning bills and members to committees, rules of considering legislation on the floor and use of an expanded whip system) and better abel to advance an agenda that reflects party preferences
~most of the real work of Congress goes on in committees and they dominate congressional policymaking in all stages
~ committees regularly hold hearings to investigate problems and possible wrong-doing and to oversee the legislative branch
~ control the congressional agenda and guide legislation for intro to send-off to President for signature
~ Group committees into 4 types (1st = most important)
~Standing Committees - typical reps serve in 2 committees and 4 sub-committees on those committees; senators average 3 committees and 7 subcommittees
~Joint Committees - economy and taxation
~Conference Committees
~Select Committees - temporary or permanent with a focused responsibility; each chamber has some permanent select committees (Intelligence)
~2-yr period = 9,000 bills
~Every bill goes to a standing committee - power of life or death of it
~the whole chamber usually considers bills that obtain favorable committee reports
~ New bills that the Speaker sends to a committee goes to subcommittees for hearings
~ committee staff conduct research, line up witnesses for hearings, write/rewrite bills
~ a committee produces reports on proposed legislation - most important output = rewritten bill which is then submitted to the full house for debate or voting
~ work of committees does not stop when the bill leaves the committee room
~ members become "floor managers" of the bill, helping party leaders get votes for it; "cue givers" that people turn to for advice
~ when the Senate and House pass different versions = conference committee
~ committees/s-committees don't leave scene after legislation passes
~ legislative oversight
~ agency wants a bigger budget, relevant committee reviews current budget - no issues solved = committee members monitor how the bureaucracy is implementing the law - agency testifies with data/info -staffs grill agency on problems
~ through oversight, Congress can pressure agencies and cut budgets in order to secure compliance with congressional wishes
~ oversight also provides an opportunity to refine existing policies
~ Congress keeps tabs on the activities of the President through committee staff - specialized expertise in the fields and agencies that their committees oversee and munition an extensive network of formal and informal contacts with the bureaucracy
~ by reading reports and receiving info from sources (agencies, citizens, Congress members, staffs, state/local officials, interest groups, and pro orgs), staff members can keep track of implementation of public policy
~ oversight = ^ when national gov = ^ (executive \ - too powerful)
~ tight budgets = incentives for oversight - protect programs they favor to get more value for tax $ spent on them
~ publicity value of receiving credit for controlling gov spending ^, so has # of reps and senators interested in oversight
~BUT Congress members have many responsibilities and there are few political payoffs for carefully watching 1 agency: lack of incentives = problems overlooked until its too late to do anything
~ EX. FEMA 2004 and Banking 2008
~ another constraint on effective oversight = fragmentation of committee jurisdictions - inhibits Congress from taking a comprehensive view of complex issue areas
~ majority party determines if/when a committee will hold hearings
~ President's party has majority = chamber is not as aggressive in overseeing admin because they don't want to embarrass the President
~ Bush - R\ control D; D^ control R
~ Obama - D\ control R; R^ control D
~ primary objective of incoming Congress members
~ Iowa freshie wants Ag committee
~ NY freshie wants banking, housing, and urban affairs committee
~ Members seek committees that will help them achieve 3 goals: reelection, influence in Congress, and opportunity to make policy in areas they find important
~ after election, new members communicate their committee preferences to their party's congressional leaders and members of their state delegation
~ every committee includes members from both parties but a majority of members (except House Ethics) and chair = majority party
~ each party in each house pick people differently - party leaders play key roles
~ those who support leadership are favored in committee selection but parties try to grant requests whenever possible - they want members to please constituents and develop expertise in an area of policy
~ being on the right committee can help them represent their constituents more effectively and reinforce their ability to engage in credit claiming
~ Parties try to apportion influence that comes with committee membership among state delegations in order to accord reps to diverse components of the party
~ committees = most important influencers of the congressional agenda
~ committee chairs and the seniority system
~ chairs were so powerful in the 1900s that they could bully members or bottle up legislation at any time - with certain knowledge that they would be chair for the rest of their electoral life
~ the more independent committee chairs are and the more power they have = more difficult to make coherent policy
~ Independent and powerful committee chairs are another obstacle to overcome in the complex legislative process
~ 1970s - younger members of Congress revolted = both parties in both houses are permitted to vote on committee chairs
~ seniority system is still the general rule (Senate) but there are exceptions
~ New rules: limit both committee and s-committee chairs to 3 consecutive 2-year terms as chair and have lost the power to cast proxy votes for committee members not in attendance
~ committee chairs are not as powerful now
~ party leadership in House has more control over legislation by giving committees deadlines for reporting legislations and can even bypass committees for priority legislation
~ decentralized committee system = open to appeals of special interests. If it was more centralized and only the interests cleared by elected leadership received a hearing, special interests could be restrained - Danger that only the interests reflecting the views of leadership would be heard
~ Congress members are overwhelmed with responsibilities - impossible to master the details on 100s of bills on which they must make decisions each year or prepare own bills
~They need help to meet obligations = turn to staff
~ most staff members work in individual Congress members' offices
~ average rep has 17 assistants
~ average senator has 40!
~ 11,000+ individuals serve on personal staffs
~ 400 more serve the congressional leaders
~ 4,000 interns in summer
~ most staffers spend time on casework - providing services to constituents; answer mail, communicate members' views and solve problems
~1/2 House and 1/3 Senate personal staff work in constituencies, not DC - makes it easier for people to make contact with staff
~ other personal staff help members with legislative functions: drafting bills, meeting with lobbyists and admins, negotiating agreements for bosses, writing ?s to ask witnesses of hearings, summarizing bills and briefing legislators
~ Senators, with wider ranges of committee assignments, rely more on staff
~ members of both houses deal with each other, through staff rather than personal interaction
~ committees of both houses employ ~2,000 staffers
~ organize hearings, research legislative options, draft committee reports on bills, write legislation and keep tabs on activities of the executive branch
~ possess high levels of expertise and very influential in policymaking
~ lobbyists cultivate staffers to obtain info about likely legislative actions and to plant ideas for bills
~Congress has 3 important staff agencies that aid work
1) Congressional Research Service (CRS) - responds to requests for info and provides nonpartisan studies. Tracks progress of major bills, prepares summaries, and make info available electronically
2) Government Accountability Office (GAO) - helps perform oversight functions - reviews activities of President - see if following laws and investigate efficiency/effectiveness of policies, sets gov standards for accounting, provides legal options and settles claims against gov
3) Congressional Budget Office (CBO) - analyzes President's budget and makes economic projections on economy performance, costs of proposed policies and economic effects of taxing and spending alternatives
~ committees, caucuses and individual legislators follow bills from intro to its approval
~ Continues to labyrinth - getting bill through Congress = navigating a difficult maze
~Congress's agenda = overcrowded = 9,000 bills! in each Congress
~ bill - most bills are killed at the beginning of the bill-making process
~ some bills are as a favor to a group, others are private for one constituent, even more alter the course of the nation
~ Congress = cumbersome decision-making body - rules and procedures
~ legislating = more difficult by the polarized political climate starting in the 80s
~ party leaders sought to cope with problems using unorthodox lawmaking (common)
~ party leaders involve themselves in the legislation process early and deep using special procedures to aid passage
~ Leaders in the House refer bills to committees at the same time = complicates process and brings more interests
~ Party leaders negotiate compromises among committees and make adjustments after reports by committees
~ sometimes, for high priority legislation, party leaders bypass committees
~ House = special rules from Rules Committee = powerful tools for controlling floor consideration of bills and sometimes for shaping the outcomes of votes
~ Party leaders also negotiate between chambers instead of conference committees
~ Also use omnibus legislation that addresses numerous (maybe) unrelated subjects, issues and programs to create winning coalitions, forcing members to support the entire bill to obtain individual parts
~ new procedures = control of party leaders in House
~ Senate = leaders = less leverage and individual senators = substantial opportunities for influence
~ more difficult to pass legislation in the Senate
~ Countless influences on legislature process - presidents, parties, constituents, interest groups, congressional and committee leadership structure and other influence offer members cues for decision making
~ Presidents and Congress: Partners and Protagonists
~ Party, Constituency, and Ideology
~ Lobbyists and Interest Groups
~ Presidents are not constant and parties endure
~ Presidents don't determine Congress's electoral fortunes; constituents do
~ Party, personal ideology and constituency = more influential
~ some issues = parties stick together (Speaker vote)
~ few issues = party coalition unglued with deep divisions in the party
~ differences between parties are sharpest on questions of economic and social welfare policy
~ Social welfare = Democrats support (more supportive of gov to regulate economy to alleviate - consequences of markets or to stimulate economic activity)
~ Differences on national security policy = ^ - Republicans support greater expenditures on defense - more aggressive foreign policy
~ Party leaders help "whip" members in line: limited power, cannot kick members out of party, have influence to exert (including making committee assignments, boosting a members' pet project and providing critical info to a member)
~ Congressional parties = funding (and PACs headed by members of party leadership)
~ distance between congressional parties = growing steadily
~ parties pull apart = more homogenous internally
~ Republicans = consistant conservatives
~ Democrats = consistant liberals
~ result of ideological differences = more difficult to compromise and more difficult for President to obtain policy support from opposition (Obama's health care plan)
~ Why the change?
~ core ideological distance = ^ divergent electoral coalitions
~ important factor = state legislatures drew boundaries of House districts so that partisan divisions in the constituencies of reps = more one-sided
~ members = no worry about pleasing center of electorates because districts = majority of 1 party
~ they only have to worry about pleasing center of own party
~ Result: Congress members = hold more extremely political views than constituents as a whole
~ Liberal and Conservative voters sort into D and R parties (fewer liberal Rs and conservative Ds)
~ as supporters of each party have matched their partisan and ideological views = differences between parties = more distinctive
~ Party loyalty ^ (congressional elections); relationship between ideology and voting = stronger)
~ Changes in preferences, behaviors and distribution of congressional voters fave parties more internally homogenous, more divergent and more polarized electoral constituencies
~ These constituencies elect more ideologically polarized reps in Congress
~ new members adopt polarized style = little compromise
~ Congress = difficult time agreeing on levels of taxation and spending to balance budget
~ differences in ideology ^ incentives to win seats and oppose other party
~ members of Congress = more likely to support a president of their party and oppose one of the opposition party than in the past
~ more likely to support efforts to discredit opposition on grounds of incompetence and lack of integrity
~ more partisan battles over procedural issues = affect floor agenda
~ more efforts to steer agenda toward issues that allow a party to differentiate itself from the opposition and make a case for itself
~ Congress members = reps - constituents expect them to represent their interests in DC - sometimes representation = balancing act
~ legislators = trustees using their best judgment to make policy in the interests of the people
~ legislators = instructed delegates, mirroring preferences of constituents
~ Actually, Congress members = politicos, adopting both trustee and instructed delegate roles as they strive to be both reps and policy makers
~ best way constituents can influence congressional voting is to elect rep/senators who agrees with their views - congressional candidates take opposite positions to opponents - winner vote on roll calls
~ if voters use good sense to elect candidates who share their policy positions, then constituents can influence congressional policy (opposite true too)
~ Challenge for legislators to know what open want - mail = unreliable (extreme opinions usually) - questionnaires = unreliable (few respond) - public opinion polling = expensive or unreliable
~on some controversial issues, legislators ignore constituent opinion
~ Reps/Senators = concerned about single-issue groups (they only care about 1 vote on one issue)
~ makes legislators nervous - ready to pounce on one "wrong" vote and pour money into opponent's campaign
~ when issues after easy for voters to get = reps = responsive to opinion
~ but many issues are complex and obscure - legislators ignore contingency opinion
~ on typical issues, personal ideology = prime determinant of the congressional member's vote - only determinant on issues where ideological divisions between parties are sharp and constituency preferences and knowledge = weak (defense and foreign policy)
~ the stronger the constituency preferences are on issues and the weaker partisan ideology is, the more likely members are to deviate from their own positions and adopt these of their constituencies
~when they have differences of opinion with constituencies, Congress members consider constituency preferences, but are not controlled by them
~ 12,000+ registered lobbyists (and orgs) all seeking to influence Congress in DC
~ spent $3 billion on lobbying federal officials in 2011 plus millions in campaign contributions and attempts to try to persuade members' constituents to send messages to DC
~ many former members of Congress and staff become lobbyists (majority leaders, Speakers)
~ Lobbyists can provide crucial policy info, political intelligence, and assurances of financial aid for next campaign - male agreeing legislators more effective in legislative process
~ Lobbyists work closely with legislative allies at committee level - coordinate efforts at influencing member with party leaders who share values
~ Grass-root lobbying = common (mail) over multiple platforms
~ Interest groups distribute score cards on how members voted on issues important to groups and threatening members with electoral retaliation if they don't support group's stands
~ some evidence = lobbying pays off but efforts to change policy usually meet with resistance - most efforts fail
~ lobbying against change is easier than lobbying for it; groups with the most money do not necessarily win; lobbyists usually make little headway with their opponents
~ Congress passed a law in 1995 because of their concern about inappropriate influence from lobbyists
~ requires anyone hired to lobby Congress members, congressional staff members, WH officials, and federal agencies to report what issues they were seeking to influence, how much they were spending on the effort and the identities of their clients
~ placed restrictions on gifts that public officials could receive from lobbyists; these restrictions and requirements prevent shady deals between lobbyists and members of Congress and curb the influence of special interests
~ 2005 - 2006 slippage - bribery scandals: Jack Abramoff charged 6 tribes $80 million for his lobbying services and extraordinary contribution expenditures on some reps/senators
~ 2007 - Congres passed a new law and House revised ethics rules - measures strengthened public disclosure requirements concerning lobbying activity and funding, placed more restrictions on gifts and travel for Congress and staff, provided for mandatory disclosure requirements of earmarks in expenditure bills and slowed the revolving door between Congress and lobbying world
~ There are many forces that influence senators/reps and their votes on bills
~ none are important enough to suggest that Congress members vote as they do because of one influence
~ complex process for individuals legislators and influencers
~ in a large nation, success of democratic gov depends on the quality of representation
~ voters give decision-making power to reps - can't hold national referendums on every policy issues on gov agenda
~ If Congress = successful democratic institution, it must be a successful representative institution
~ some aspects = unrepresentative; members = US elite, leadership chosen by members, not people, voters have little direct influence over key committee chairs or lead congressional parties, Senate apportioned to represent states, not population (distribution of power that gives citizens in less populated states a greater say in key decisions)
~ malapportionment is high in Senate
~ Congress does try to listen to US people
~ whom voters elect makes a difference in how congressional votes turn out
~ which party is in power affects policies
~ Congress could represent US better but there are obstacles to improved legislation (legislators find it hard to known what constituents want, groups may keep important issues off legislative agenda, members could spend too much time serving constituencies and have little time left to represent those constituencies in the policymaking process
~ Congress = responsive to the people, if the people make it clear what they want
~ central legislative dilemma for Congress is combining faithful representation of constituents with making effective public policy
~ supporters = Congress = forum in which many interests compete for a spot on the policy agenda and over the form of a particular policy (intended by Founders)
~ critics = Congress is too representative - incapable of taking decisive action to deal with difficult problems; committees worry only about their topic/issues
~ one reason why gov spends too much = Congress is protecting the interests of too many people - each interests tries to preserve the status quo = Congress cannot enact bold reforms
~ defenders = decentralization = no oligarchy in control to prevent the legislature from taking comprehensive action
~ Congress has enacted historic legislation (tax cuts, tax reform bills that balance budget) - also passed health care reform, trade bills, drug addition to Medicare and elementary and secondary education program
~ no simple solution to Congress's dilemma
~ tries to be a representative and objective policy making institution = won't please all critics