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Politics of the United States
Terms in this set (98)
What was the "first branch"
The Constitution specified for Congress...?
a vast array of enumerated powers, including regulating commerce, coining money, raising and supporting armies, creating the courts, establishing post offices and roads, declaring war, and levying taxes
Due to the Constitution, the president, in contrast to Congress, was given...?
given few explicit powers and played a much less prominent role early in our history.
Congress's authority came from its implicit powers, which were rooted in...?
the elastic clause of Article I of the Constitution, which gives Congress the power "to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers."
compromises of Congress included establishing a system of...?
The system of having two chambers within one legislative body, like the House and Senate in the U.S. Congress.
compromises also laid the foundation for the split loyalties that members of Congress have.
they must respond to both their local constituencies and the nation's interests.
the Founders viewed the Senate as..?
the more likely institution to speak for the national interests; it was intended to check the more responsive and passionate House.
In the nineteenth century, Congress's roots in geographic constituencies
made it well suited for the politics of the time.
Legislative appropriations that benefit specific constituents, created with the aim of helping local representatives win reelection.
New Deal of the 1930s
(which established modern social welfare and regulatory policies), the scope of national policy expanded and politics became more centered in Washington.
The relationships between constituents and their member of Congress can be characterized in two basic ways
descriptive and substantive.
Representation in which a member of Congress shares the characteristics (such as gender, race, religion, or ethnicity) of his or her constituents.
the perceived responsiveness of a member of Congress.
constituents report higher levels of satisfaction with representatives who are...?
of their same racial or ethnic background.
Representation in which a member of Congress serves constituents' interests and shares their policy concerns.
Two long-standing models of substantive representation
A member of Congress who represents constituents' interests while also taking into account national, collective, and moral concerns that sometimes cause the member to vote against the preference of a majority of constituents.
A member of Congress who loyally represents constituents' direct interests.
A member of Congress who acts as a delegate on issues that constituents care about (such as immigration reform) and as a trustee on more complex or less salient issues (such as some foreign policy or regulatory matters).
Members of Congress behave as if...?
voters were paying attention, even when constituents are inattentive.
How do districts vary?
1. Differ in size
2. districts also differ in terms of who lives there and what they want from government.
Senate "districts" (that is, states) vary in terms of...?
area and population
legislators tend to reflect...?
the central tendencies of their districts.
Although individual members of Congress cannot do much to alter national economic or political forces that may affect voters' choices, they can...?
control their own activities in the House or Senate.
The idea that congressional behavior is centrally motivated by members' desire for reelection.
three ways that members of Congress promote their chances for reelection
advertising, credit claiming, and position taking.
appeals or appearances without issue content that get the member's name in front of the public in a favorable way.
"working the district," such as attending town meetings, appearing in a parade, or sending letters of congratulation for graduations, birthdays, or anniversaries.
Members of Congress also spend a fair amount of time meeting with constituents in D.C. such as
seeing school groups, tourists, and interest groups from their districts.
the member of Congress takes credit for something of value to voters—most commonly, pork-barrel policies targeted to benefit specific constituents or the district as a whole.
credit claiming - casework
Assistance provided by members of Congress to their constituents in solving problems with the federal bureaucracy or addressing other specific concerns.
any public statement—such as a roll call vote, speech, editorial, or position paper—about a topic of interest to constituents or interest groups. .
Representatives' focus on reelection has some costs, two of which reflect widespread public opinion.
1. perception that Congress has granted itself too many special privileges aimed at securing reelection leads to criticism
2. concern that members' time spent actively campaigning takes time away from the responsibilities of enacting laws and overseeing their implementation.
The relative infrequency with which members of Congress are defeated in their attempts for reelection.
One explanation for the increasing incumbency advantage is rooted in the diversity of...?
congressional districts and states.
shapes the way members allocate resources, the way incumbents present themselves to their district, and the way they explain their policy positions.
District boundaries determine..?
who is eligible to vote in any given congressional race, and these boundaries are re-drawn every 10 years, after each national census.
Re-drawing the geographic boundaries of legislative districts. This happens every 10 years to ensure that districts remain roughly equal in population.
The process of assigning the 435 seats in the House to the states based on increases or decreases in state population.
Voters in small states thus have proportionally more influence than...?
than those in large states when it comes to the Senate.
Attempting to use the process of re-drawing district boundaries to benefit a political party, protect incumbents, or change the proportion of minority voters in a district.
An inability to enact legislation because of partisan conflict within Congress or between Congress and the president.
Congress's place in our constitutional system
•The "first branch" and vast enumerated powers
Members of Congress must serve...?
•their unique districts as well as the nation as a whole.
Elected Legislators represents the American people, not just his or her particular district.
Elected legislators represent the preferences or interests of the specific geographic constituencies from which they are elected
"Does my member of Congress look like me?"
"Does my member of Congress represent my interests?
Districts vary widely in...?
the types of voters and interests (e.g., economic, religion, ideology)
and tend to elect representatives who reflect those interests.
Members of Congress behave how?
as if voters were paying attention, even when constituents are inattentive.
During election time, challengers may raise issues that become...?
salient after the public thinks about them.
The electoral connection explains
•Members of Congress never know what issue will be used against them in next election.
The incumbency advantage
refers to a series of conditions and circumstances that help elected office holders keep their positions
•Can cost more than $1 million to run a credible challenge
•Helps scare away potential challengers
•Incumbents today often outspend challengers 3 to1
•Incumbents "work their districts" to get reelected, taking the opportunity to meet with constituents.
•House and Senate candidates distance themselves from the national party.
•National forces in congressional elections may be evident in presidential years.
How to ensure that districts are equal in population
•Carried out by the states
•Begins after apportionment
using redistricting for political advantage
Types of gerrymendering
Factors of gridlock
•Little public consensus on how to handle important issues, leading to impasse
•Politicians prioritize local needs over national ones because their voters are local.
formal and informal
Informal structure (norms)
processes that are not codified into official policy
Examples of informal structure
structures follow a more rigid set of procedures.
Aimed at helping Congress solve the collective action problem
Examples of formal structure
Parties and party leaders
the Rules Committee determines
the rules under which legislation will be considered by the House
allows the addition of relevant amendments to a bill
prohibits the addition of amendments to a bill
allows certain amendments to a bill while barring others
a tactic used by senators to block a bill by continuing to hold the floor and speak—under the Senate rule of unlimited debate—until the bill's supporters back down
•a procedure through which the Senate can limit the amount of time spent debating
The Committee System
a permanent part of the House or Senate structure with more authority than other committees
created to address a specific issue
contains members of both houses but with limited authority
created to negotiate differences between the House and Senate versions of legislation
For a piece of legislation to become law
must be passed in identical form by both chambers and signed by the president.
What percentage of the the 10,000+ bills introduced each year become law.
a legislative proposal that becomes a law if it is passed by the House and Senate in identical form and approved by the president
legislation used to express the sense of the House and Senate, designated by "H.Res" or "S.Res"
Legislation used to express the position of both chambers on a nonlegislative matter to set the annual budget or to fix adjournment dates
legislation that has few practical differences from a bill (passes both chambers identical form, signed by the president) unless it proposes a constitutional amendment
The typical path to creating legislation follows roughly this sequence.
1. A member of Congress introduces the bill.
2. A subcommittee and committee craft the bill.
3. Floor action on the bill takes place in the first chamber (House or Senate).
4. Committee and floor action takes place in the second chamber.
5. The conference committee works out any differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
6. The conference committee version is given final approval on the floor of each chamber.
7. The president either signs or vetoes the final version.
8. If the bill is vetoed, both chambers can attempt to override the veto with a two-thirds vote in both chambers.
Congress also oversees the implementation of the law to ensure...?
the bureaucracy applies the law as intended.
Directly elected by members of the House
What does the speaker selection heavily rely on?
who the majority party chooses during the caucus meeting
Example of the Speaker's job
-Administers the oath of office to Members
-Calls the House to order
Majority and Minority Leaders
Elected by secret ballot in party caucus
Responsible for scheduling the House floor's legislative calendar and direct management for all House committees.
This is a reactive position to the actions of the majority party. The minority leader tracks bills, promotes party unity, and is the public face of the minority party in the House
Assistants to the floor leaders who are also elected by their party conferences
The majority and minority whips
responsible for mobilizing votes within their parties on major issues. In the absence of a party floor leader, the whip often serves as acting floor leader.
President of the Senate
The Vice President of the U.S.
President Pro Tempore
Longest serving majority party member
Majority and Minority Party Leaders
Elected by their parties
Today, women make up how much of the U.S. population?
how many seats in Congress do women hold?
127 - 23.7%
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