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CHAP 6 REVIEW: CONGRESS

Terms in this set (80)

1. (Introduction)
A bill is introduced. It must originate in the House of Representatives, a bill can be first introduced into either the Senate or the House. Although the idea of bills come from a variety of sources. Many come from the president or someone in the president's office or excutive branch of government. Or lobbyists, business leaders, educators, journalists, & regular constituents. The next step for those with a suggestion for a new law is to find a sponsor in the House or Senate to introduce the idea in the form of a bill

2. Standing Committee for Action (Committee action)
The next step in the process requires the bill to be assigned to the standing committee that has policy jurisdiction over the topic the bill addresses. If they give the bill serious consideration, the committee chair usually assigns it to a subcommittee. The subcommittee may hold hearings, conduct investigations, and deliberate on the merits of the bll. When a bill is back in full committee, the commendations of the subcommitttee maybe accepted, rejected or further revised. The full committee may conduct additional hearings, call more experts to testify & debate the bill. At the end of this process, a "markup" or final version of the bill is prepared. The markup is the proposed legislation on which the full committee will vote, if majority votes against the bill it goes no further. If majority vote in favor, it moves forward in process

3. Bill goes to the full House and Senate for Consideration (Floor action)
The full House or Senate debates the bill and proposes amendments. The process differs between the House & Senate.
In the House: a bill that makes it through the committee is immediately assigned to the House Rules Committee. The Rules Committee decides when the bill will be debated, the amount of time for debate, and the extent to which amendments may be added from the floor of the House. The ability to control timing is significant. If the Rules Committee issues a closed rule, House members are limited in their ability to amend the bill. An open rule, permits amendments to the bill.

In Senate: there are no rules set up ahead of time for debate. The Senate majority leader decides when to bring a bill to the floor, but there are no limits on the amount of time the bill will be debated. With no rules on how long a senator might speak, there is a possibility that a minority of senators or even one senator might try to block a bill from passed by refusing to end discussion, a process known as a filibuster.
(Pg. 158)

4. Conference Committee Action (when the version of a bill that passes Senate differs from the House one, to iron out differences, they select a confernce committee to work out the kink)
The conference committee consists of House and Senate members, usually drawn from the standing committees that worked on the bills (Pg. 159)

5. President Action
The president plays an informal and formal role in the passage of new laws.
Informal role: to develop new ideas for laws & urge members of Congress to introduce them. Also lobbies Congress attempting to persuade members to support or oppose certain bills.

Formal role: is the fifth step in the process by which a bill becomes a law. Once both chambers of Congress have agreed to a bill, the bill is sent to the president for action. The president has three options,
1st, the president can sign the bill, which officially makes it new law
2nd, the president can veto (or refuse assent to) the bill, which stops the bill from becoming law. If bill is vetoed, Congress has one more opportunity to pass the bill by overriding the president veto, which requires a two-thirds vote in favor of passage in both Senate & the House.
3rd, the president can decide not to act on a bill (neither sign it nor veto it) in which case the bill automatically becomes law after it has sat on the president's desk for 10 days. If Congress passes a bill and sends it to the president within 10 days of the end of a congressional session and the president does not act on the bill, the bill does NOT become law, a process known as pock veto (Pg. 160)
1. Personal opinion & judgment. Many members of Congress have strong personal opinions on issues and cast their votes on bills based on those opinions. (Ex: Pro-life vs Abortions)
2. Constituent opinion. Members of Congress want to be liked by their constituents and most want to be reelected. In voting on particular bills, members often use results of polls, editorial commentary in local media and letters written to them to help make up their minds in voting on a particular bill. When they use a constituent opinion in casting a vote, they are exercising their role as a "delegate" of the people they represent
3. Interest groups and lobbying. As a way of achieving their goals, interest groups exert influence on congressional voting in many ways, including making contributions to congressional campaigns & hiring lobbyists to provide arguments to members regarding why they should vote a particular way on a bill. Members use both information provided by lobbyists to aid in their voting & the campaign support from interest groups to prompt how they will vote.
4. Political party. The party of a member often conveys quite a bit about his/her political positions & ideology. Party membership is an important cue. The leadership of each party is organized to influence party members to vote the "party line" on bills. Members voting w/ their party tend to be rewarded with better committee assignments & greater campaign funding
5. The president. Presidents are the focus of national attention. Presidents are influential in directing congressional members of their own party how to vote but often exert influence on members of the opposite party as well.
6. Logrolling. Members often enter into an agreement with other members to vote a certain way on one bill in exchange for a favorable vote on another bill. Process is known as logrolling. Members vote on thousands of bills every term. Giving up a vote on less important bills in exchange for favorable votes on more important bills is common practice and often guides congressional voting behavior (Pg. 158)
Oversight of federal agencies:
Sometimes Congress prefers not to deal with issues on its own, but rather "pass the buck" to a bureaucratic agency. Congress often delegates more specific legislative authority to the executive branch, which has the resources and expertise to make more highly technical policy decisions. They monitor the activities of agencies & administrators who are given this power through congressional oversight.

Confirmation of top federal executive & judges:
The president nominates individuals for the roles of cabinet officers, other agency & executive branch heads, federal judges and foreign ambassadors. But the Senate must consent to the nomination with a majority vote in favor of the candidate. This function is one performed soley by the US Senate and not the House of Representatives.

Approval of treaties:
The Senate has the power to approve treaties that the president negotiates with foreign countries. Approval of a treaty requires the consent of two-thirds of the Senate.

Impeachment of top federal executive and judges
Congress has the authority to impeach and remove federal judges, cabinet officers, the president, the vice president and other civil officers. The removal process requires an impeachment action from the House and a trial in the Senate. Impeachment is the formal process by which the House brings charges against federal officials. A judge, president or executive official who is "impeached" by the House i not removed; he/she is charged with an offense. An impeachment occurs by a majority vote in the House of Representatives. An official may be impeached by the House on more than one charge, each of which is referred to as an article of impeachment. If the House passes at least one article of impeachment, the official must stand trial in the Senate.
Two-thirds vote of a full Senate is required for removal of an official (Pg. 161)
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