Pol Lecture 10 Ch 6.doc

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Political Science
Cheryl Boudreau

21314Pol Lecture 10 Chapter 6 CongressWord of the Day Citizens Restricting Commissionredistricting organization for CA 5 democrats 5 republicans 4 independentdraws districts for state assembly and senate racerepublicans unsuccessfully challenged meps Todays Congress Overviewthe House and Senate occupy the center stage in national policy makingelectoral politics influences almost everything members of Congress do collectively and individuallythe majority party through party leaders directs and dominates the action in the House and Senatethe rules and organizational structures the House and Senate adopt have a deliberate and crucial effect on power and policy makingit is always easier to stop things from happening in Congress than to make things happenCongress in the Constitutionthe basic structure of Congress is the product of the Great Compromise at the Constitutional Conventionthe framers created a bicameral legislature with distinct features of each chamber being designed to resolve the conflicta House of Representatives with seats allocated by population and members elected by the citizenrya Senate composed of two members from each state chosen by the state legislatureThe Compromisethe institutional structure resolved the conflict of large versus small states also solved the debate over the appropriate degree of popular influence on government a two year term for the House was a compromise between the annual elections advocated by many delegates and the three year term proposed by James Madisona short tenure would keep this chamber close to the peoplethe Senate would be more insulated from momentary shifts in the public mood by virtue of a longer term in addition to their selection by state legislaturesQualification Differencesqualifications for office also reflected the Framers concept of the Senate as the more mature of the two chambersthe minimum age for House members was set at twentyfive years whereas it was set at thirty for the SenateHouse members were required to be citizens for at last seven years whereas for senators it was nine yearsboth were required to reside in the state they representedQualifications for Office Holdingthe propertyholding and religious qualifications included in many state constitutions were explicitly rejectedthey also rejected a proposal to forbid a members reelection to office after serving a termthe Articles had included a reelection restriction but the Framers thought it had weakened Congress by depriving it of some of its most effective membersPowers of Congress the Constitution established a truly national government by giving Congress broad powers over crucial economic mattersArticle 1 Section 8 of the Constitution sets out the enumerated powers of Congress examples impose taxes regulate interstate and foreign commerceat the end of this list a clause authorizes Congress to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution foreign Powers We refer to this as the necessary and proper or elastic clauseThe Necessary and Proper Clausethis clause has provided the single most extensive grant of power in the Constitution giving Congress authority over many different spheres of public policyit was under this authority that Congress banned discrimination in public accommodations and housing in the 1960sOther Areas of Congressional AuthorityCongress was given significant authority in foreign affairs as well only Congress may declare war raise and finance an army and navy and call out the state militiasthe Senate was granted some special powers over foreign relations in its Advise and Consent capacity the Senate ratifies treaties and confirms presidential appointmentsthe Framers believed that the more aristocratic and insulated of the two houses would keep a steadier eye on the nations longterm intereststhe Senate also approves presidential appointments to the Supreme Court and top executive branch positionsto a degree the Framers envisioned the Senate acting as an advisory council to the president also reflects the Framers belief that the more aristocratic and insulated of the two houses would keep a steadier eye on the countrys longterm interestsAchieving Balancein distributing power between the House and Senate the delegates sought a roper balance of authoritymuch debate was given to which chamber would have the authority to raise and spend moneythe final compromise required that bills raising revenue originate in the House with the Senate having unrestricted right to amend them finally the president was used as a means to further the balance of power by giving the executive branch the authority torecommend new lawscall Congress into special sessionmost important the power to veto laws passed by Congress killing them unless twothirds of each chamber votes to override the vetoThe Electoral System two choices made by the Framers of the Constitution have profoundly affected the electoral politics of Congressmembers of Congress and presidents are elected separately
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