POLS 100 Lecture 1: Congress Notes

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7 Feb 2017
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Congress
The concept of a legislature / the role of a legislator
-Check on executive/spread power
-Share power/represent diverse interests/areas
-Ways of representing constituents (Burkean concepts)
Delegate
Trustee
-535 members
-30,000+ staffers
-7 massive buildings
-$1 billion annual budgets
-and 2 houses…
-Reapportionment (House Only) every ten years
New York lost 2 seats
Ohio lost 2 seats
Several others, mostly in the north lost 1
Texas gained 4 seats
Florida gained 2 seats
Several others, mostly in the south gained 1
How are district lines drawn?
-Elbridge Gerry’s Massachusetts
Gerrymandering
-Packing: Drawing lines so they include as many of the opposing party’s voters as possible
-Cracking: dividing an opponent’s voters into other districts, weakens opponents
Key Parts of Congress
-Congressional leaders
-Congressional Committees
-Congressional Staffs
Leadership in the Congress
-In the Senate, the Vice President of the US (Mike Pence) is “President” of the Senate
-But the founders surmised that the Vice President would not always be present so they
provided for a “president pro tem” to run the Senate on a daily basis. Right now it is Orrin
Hatch of Utah
-That didn’t work either and the real leadership authority in the senate is the majority leader.
Right now that is Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
-The minority party in the Senate also selects a leader and right now that is Chuck Schumer of
New York
-Both the majority and minority leaders are assisted by “whips” who are their second in
command
-the majority leadership authority in the House rests in the person of the Speaker of the
House. Right now that is Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
-he is assisted by the Majority Leader. Right now that is Kevin McCarthy of California
-The minority party in the House also selects a leader. Right now it is Nancy Pelosi of
California
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