PS 101-Chapter 10 Congress
I. Textbook Vocabulary-
o Bicameralism: The system of having two chambers within one legislative, like
the House and Senate in the US Congress
o Pork Barrel: Legislative appropriations that benefit specific constituents,
created with the aim of helping local representatives win reelection.
o Descriptive Representation: When a member of Congress shares the
characteristics (such as gender, race, religion, or ethnicity) of his or her
o Substantive Representation: When a member of Congress represents
constituents ‘interests and policy concerns.
o Trustee:Amember 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
o Delegate (Congressional role):A member of Congress who loyally represents
o Politico:Amember 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(some foreign policy or regulatory matters)
o Casework:Assistance provided by members of Congress to their constituents
in solving problems with the federal bureaucracy or addressing other specific
o Electoral Connection: The idea that congressional behavior is centrally
motivated by members’desire for reelection.
o Advertising:Actions taken by a members of Congress that are unrelated to
government issues but have the primary goal of making a positive impression
on the public, like sending holiday cards to the constituents and appearing in
o Credit Claiming: The acceptance of credit by a member of Congress for
legislation that specifically benefits his or her constituents.
o Position Taking:Any public statement in which a member of Congress makes
his or her views on an issue known to his or her constituents.
o Redistricting: Redrawing the geographic boundaries of legislative districts.
This happens every ten years to ensure that districts remain roughly equal in
o Apportionment: The process of assigning the 435 seats in the House to the
state bases on increases or decreases in state population.
o Gerrymandering:Attempting to use the process of redrawing district
boundaries to benefit a political party, protect incumbents, or change the
proportion of minority voters in a district.
o Gridlock:An inability to enact legislation because of artisan conflict within
Congress or between Congress and the president.
o IncumbencyAdvantage: The relative infrequency with which members of
Congress are defeated in their attempts for reelection. o Universalism: The informal congressional norm of distributing the benefits of
legislation in a way that serves the interests of as many states and districts as
o Reciprocity: The informal congressional norm whereby a member of votes for
a bill that he or she might not otherwise support because a colleague strongly
favors it, and in exchange, the colleague cotes for a bill that the member feels
strongly about(also known as logrolling.)
o Earmarks: Federally funded local projects attached to bills passed through
o Specialization: The expertise of a member of Congress on a specific issue or
area of policy. Specialization is more common in the House than the Senate,
where members tend to be policy generalists.
o Seniority: The informal congressional norm of choosing the member who has
served the longest on a particular committee to be the committee chair.
o Speaker of the House: The elected leader of the House of Representatives
o Majority Leader: The elected head of the party holding the majority of the
seats in the House or Senate
o Whip System:An organization of House leaders who work to disseminate
information and promote party unity in voting on legislation
o Roll Call Vote:Arecorded vote on legislation; members may vote yes, no,
abstain, or present.
o Party Votes:Avote in which the majority of one party opposes the position of
the majority of the other party.
o Party Unity: The extent to which members of Congress in the same party vote
together on party votes.
o Standing Committees: Committees that are a permanent art of the House or
Senate structure, holding more importance and authority than other
o Select Committees: Committees in the House or Senate created to address a
specific issue for one or two terms.
o Joint Committees: Committees that contain members of both the House and
Senate but have limited authority.
o Conference Committees: Temporary committees created to negotiate
differences between the House and Senate versions of a piece of legislation
that has passed through both chambers
o Distributive Theory: The idea that members of Congress will join committees
that best serve the interests of their districts and that the committee members
will support each other’s legislation.
o Informational Theory: The idea that having specific committees in Congress
made up of experts on specific policy areas helps to ensure well-informed
o Markup: One of the steps through which a bill becomes a law, in which the
final wording of the bill is determined.
o Veto: The president’s rejection of a bill that has been passed by Congress.A
veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate. o Pocket Veto: The automatic death of a bill passed by the House and the Senate
o when the president fails to sign the bill in the last ten days of legislative
o Omnibrus Legislation: Large bills that often cover several topics and may
contain extraneous or pork-barrel projects.
o Suspension of the rules: One way of moving a piece of legislation to the top of
the agenda in the House: debate on the bill is limited to forty minutes,
amendments are not allowed, and bill must pass by a two-thirds vote.
o Cloture:Aprocedure through which the Senate can limit the amount of time
spent debating a bill (cutting off a filibuster), if a supermajority of sixty
o Filibuster:Atactic 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.
o Hold:An objection to considering a measure on the Senate floor
o Closed Rules: Conditions placed on a legislative debate by the House Rules
committee prohibiting amendments to a bill.
o Open Rules: Conditions placed on a legislative debate by the House Rules
Committee allowing relevant amendments to a bill.
o Modified Rules: Conditions placed on a legislative debate by the House Rules
Committee allowing certain amendments to a bill while barring others.
o Legislative Veto:Aform of oversight in which Congress overturns
II. Lecture(4/3/12) Legislative Behavior and Representation
A. The Place of Congress
1. What did the founders intend?
a. Congress as the “first branch”
b. Logic behind bicameralism
2. What has happened since then?
3. What do citizens think about Congress? They don’t like Congress.
B. Representation and Constituents
1. What do we mean by “representation”?
a. Descriptive representation
i. When a member of Congress shares the characteristics (race,
gender, religion, ethnicity, etc.) of his or her constituents
b. Substantive representation
i. When a member of Congress represents constituents’’interests
and policy concerns
C. The Constituency
D. Theories of Substantive Representation
1. Theory #1—Mandate Theory
a. The role of representatives is to act as delegates
b. When faced with a decision, they should figure out what the majority
of the constituents want and do that
2. The rationale? a. "Thus, the people's deputies are not, and could not be, its
representatives; they are merely its agents; and they cannot decide
anything finally.“ Jean-Jacques Rousseau
3. Theory #2—Independence Theory
a. The role of representatives is to act as trustees
b. When faced with a decision, they should decide what is in the
interest of their constituents’
c. This does not always = what constituents’say they want
4. The rationale?
a. "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his
judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to
your opinion.“ Edmund Burke
E. Implications of the Theories
1. If legislators act as delegates…
a. Policymaking will be highly pluralistic, reflecting bargaining among
lawmakers speaking for different constituencies
2. If legislators act as trustees…
a. There is no guarantee that policymaking will be majoritarian, but
legislators will be majoritarian, but legislators will be less closely
tied to narrow interests of districts/states
F. Which Theory is Correct?
1. Not cut-and-dried in real congressional life
2. Many act as delegates at some times and trustees at others
3. Politicos are members of Congress who act as a delegate on issues that
constituents’care about and as a trustee on more complex or less salient
G. Some Debates about Representation
1. Why do citizens love their representatives but hate Congress?
2. How can congressional districts be drawn in a fair way?
3. How good can elections be at promoting responsiveness when so many
4. What Do Constituents Want? (GRAPH)
H. How Closely Do Constituents Monitor?
1. About 1/3 can recall the name of their representative
2. About ¼ know the names of both of their senators
3. Fewer can identify how their Member of Congress (MC) voted on a
particular bill, or can identify something specific the member did for the
I. But They Like Their MCs
1. About half of people say they approve of the job their representative is
2. This increases substantially for those represented by a copartisan
3. About 85-95% of MCs win their reelection bids
J. But are Not Happy with Congress(GRAPH, approval of president is higher
K. How Can We Reconcile This? 1. Start with the ele