American Government
Azusa Pacific University
Mr. Jonathon Pyles
October 26, 2004

I.   Congress vs. Parliament
A.   Congress makes laws but doesn't select the chief executive
B.   Party identity far more important in Parliament
C.   Parliament – when party leader goes out of favor with majority party, new government must be formed
II.   Structure
A.   House of Representatives
1.   435 members based on population (census every decade – each state guaranteed at least one)
2.   Northeast has lost seats: South/Southwest has gained in recent years
3.   Two-year terms, elected in districts about equal in population
B.   Senate
1.   Two senators per state
2.   Six-year terms, staggered elections
C.   Sex and race
1.   Majority of members are middle-aged white males from upper economic elite
2.   Number of women and minorities greater in House than in Senate
III.   Getting elected to Congress
A.   Need to win at least a plurality of voters under a party label
B.   Winning the primary
1.   Collect signatures on petition to enter primary
2.   Some states have runoff primary, so winner must have a majority
3.   Primary reduced influence of political party
4.   Candidates run personalized campaigns – offers them independence from party in Congress
IV.   How a bill becomes a law (Pg 199)
A.   Introduced
1.   Bills may be introduced by members of Congress in either house
2.   Bills are often drafted by the President
3.   Appropriations and tax bills originate in the House (Ways and Means Committee)
B.   Committee
1.   Bills are referred to committee for consideration
2.   Most bills die in committee (if bill is not reported out of committee)
3.   Majority party controls majority on committees
4.   Hearings by subcommittee
5.   Complex bills often divided between committees
6.   Discharge petitions rarely successful in House
7.   House Rules Committee sets rules for debate
C.   Floor Debate
1.   Once a bill is reported out of committee, it can be debated
2.   House
a.   There are rules on the debates
i.   Closed rule – there are limits on the debates (time, amendments, etc...)
ii.   Open rule – allows anyone on the floor to make amendments
b.   Committee of the Whole – at least 100 members present for debate and a quorum (1/2 representatives, 218 members)
c.   Sponsoring committee guides discussion
3.   Senate
a.   Unlimited debate
i.   Filibuster (prevents vote taking)
ii.   Riders (irrelevant amendments)
iii.   Double tracking (means, effectively that controversial bills need 60 votes for cloture) – you put it on hold and move on to the next bill
iv.   Cloture – 60 votes ends filibusters
D.   Voting
1.   House (requires a quorum):
a.   Voice vote ("aye" "no" – names not recorded)
b.   Division (standing) vote – standing to be counted (names not recorded)
c.   Teller vote – deposit signed ballots in box
d.   Roll call – electronic voting system (very common)
2.   Senate
a.   Voice vote
b.   Roll call (no electronic counters)
c.   Usually Senate uses informal "unanimous consent" agreements
E.   Presidential Approval
1.   President must sign bill for it to become law
2.   President can veto bill
3.   2/3 vote (if there is a quorum) in both houses overrides a veto
V.   Organization of Congress
A.   Senate
1.   President of the Senate – Vice President
2.   President pro tempore – Senator with greatest seniority on majority
3.   Majority leader – schedules Senate's business usually in consultation with minority leader
4.   Minority leader – works with majority leader
5.   Party whips – "round up" votes and inform leaders of member concerns
B.   House of Representatives
1.   Speaker – Selected by majority party; most powerful position
a.   Recognizes speakers on the floor
b.   Rules on relevance or germaneness to amendments
c.   Assigns bills to committees
d.   Influences what bills are brought up for vote
e.   Selects the majority-party members of Rules Committee
2.   Majority leader (next in line to be Speaker) and Minority leader
3.   Committee members and chairmen
VI.   Staff
A.   Average representative (House) has 16 assistants
B.   Average senator has 36 assistants
C.   More than 10,000 people on personal staffs of members of Congress
D.   In addition, 3,000 working on congressional committees
E.   Another 3,000 employed by congressional research agencies
VII.   Three main influences
A.   Representational view (seeking to please constituents)
B.   Organizational view (working with other members of Congress, especially party)
C.   Attitudinal view (voting based on ideology)
VIII.   Notes on Congress
A.   Leadership is weak in Congress, especially in the Senate
B.   Members of Congress tend to have a localistic viewpoint
C.   Congress is increasingly polarized (partly because Americans are more polarized, and because of districting)
D.   Does not often engage in careful deliberation (due to large work load)