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The Legislative Branch: too responsive and not responsible

Congress
by

Tony Litherland

on 3 November 2015

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Transcript of The Legislative Branch: too responsive and not responsible

The Legislative Branch
Section 1: How Congress is Organized
Section 2: Powers of Congress
Section 3: Representing the People
Section 4: How a Bill Becomes a Law
Sect. 1: How Congress is Organized
Why did the framers make this branch the most powerful?
A Bicameral Legislature:
Great Compromise made 2 houses
House of Representatives
Senate
Larger body of Congress
435 voting members
Based off state population
2 year terms
100 voting members- 2 per state
6 year terms
You should make a graphic organizer to help remember this stuff!
Leaders in Congress
Each house has a majority and a minority party
Speaker of the House
Senate Majority Leader
Committee Work:
Congressional Districts
Oklahoma Districts
Each state is divided into 1 or more districts:
1 representative per district
Should try to represent constituents
Legislatures can gerrymander to keep in power
What is the cartoon trying to say?
How do you feel about Gerrymandering?
Each house of Congress must look at thousands of bills (proposed law):
Congress forms committees
Standing Committee
permanent committees
Select Committee
temporary committees
Joint Committee
members from both houses
But what do committees do?
Committees:
Are smaller/specialized groups of congressmen that look at individual bills to see if they should be brought in front of Congress
Sect. 2: Powers of Congress
Legislative Powers
Non-Legislative Powers
Article I, Section 8 gives expressed powers to Congress
Clause 18
the elastic clause
What is the ELASTIC clause?
Powers not stated specifically in the Constitution
Gives Congress the ability to stretch powers to meet new needs
These powers are called Implied Powers
The Congress shall have power …To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
Examples
Tennessee Valley Authority
U.S. Military
But why would the framers put this in the Constitution?
Checks and Balances
Checks on the Executive:
Approve/Reject Supreme Court justices, Federal Judges, and ambassadors
Can impeach the President
Checks on the Judicial:
Can impeach Judges
Only 2 Presidents to be Impeached
What Congress Can't Do
Suspend the writ of habeas corpus
court order that requires police to explain WHY someone has been arrested
Pass bills of attainder
laws that punish without a jury trial
Pass ex post facto laws
punishing a person AFTER a law has been passed for actions BEFORE it was passed
Sect. 3: Representing the People
Qualifications
30 years of age
Live in state you represent
Be a citizen for 9 years
25 years of age
Live in state you represent
Be a citizen for 7 years
why are legal qualifications for members of congress not the only requirements?
Pork-Barrel Spending
Earmarks: projects attached to spending bills that benefit ONLY the home state
What are the pros and cons of pork-barrel spending?
Sect. 4: How a Bill Becomes a Law
1st step
3rd step
where do bills come from?
Citizens
White House
Special-Interest Groups
organizations made up of people with common interests
Bill is sent to a committee
The committee does one of the following:
1. Pass the bill
2. Change the bill
3. Replace the bill
4. Ignore the bill
5. Kill the bill
2nd step
Full House/Senate debates the bill
Sent to other house
House of Reps.
Senate
Can do any of the 5 actions the committee did
Can do any of the 5 actions the committee did
Final Step
Sent to president
Pass:
Can either:
Veto:
Veto:
If the president vetoes, Congress needs 2/3 vote to override it
Can You name the last ten Speakers of the House
John Boehner
Nancy Pelosi
Dennis Hastert
Newt Gingrich
Tom Foley
Jim Wright
Tip O'Neil
Carl Albert
McCormick
Sam
Rayburn
Voters hate Congress and love their own Congressmen!
Why?
Candidates for Congress often run against Congress
Currently, Congress has a reputation lower than that of a used car salesman, lower than cockroaches and lower than a lot of things.
Concept of a "safe Seat."
In a safe seat, who is left out.
Gerrymanders are attempts to design the congressional districts so one party can maximize its ability to win elections.
Which 7 Committees have the same name in the House and in the Senate?
Armed Services
Budget
Appropriations
Veterans Affairs
Ethics
Intelligence
Judiciary
What is the critical and powerful implication to the fact of the Elastic Clause?
Congress has a lot of power
What are some of the informal requirements
Gender
Wealth - (success)
experience - (Senator or Governor)
Religion
Race
White
Black
Descendent of a slave
Hispanic
Mostly, congressmen write the bills
Who can represent Whom?
Madison argued that a large nation would create ?????
Diversity
Diversity helps prevent factional violence
Congressmen are to stop each other from doing bad things
Reflection produces wise solutions
#1
#2
Can a man represent a woman?
Health issues
Can a black man represent a white man?
Drug crimes
Can a rich man represent a poor man?
Millionaire club
Take care of the poor
Can anyone represent a Texan?
Statesmen
Delegate
Trustee
Politico
Type I
Statesman/Trustee
Rare and uncommon
Wisdom for the day and for tomorrow
Republican Senator Dirksen (Ill)
Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy (Ma)
Type II
Statesman- Delegate
Ideal
Takes instructions but occasionally votes for the good of the country
Senator Tom Coburn (R -Ok)
All too common
Type III
Politico - Trustee
Concerned mostly about their own career goals
Once in a while vote they vote for long range good for the country.
Type IV
Politico-Delegate
Follows strict instructions or acts selfishly to promote their own career.
The worst kind
How many are there?
Beat their wives
Divorcees
Bankruptcy
Crimes and drug abuse
In jail
Millionaires
Congressmen are cleaner and better than average Americans.
#1. Congress is critical to your well-being
#2. Congress is boring
#3. Many voters do not understand what is good for them.
How much do Americans Make?
25 and hour is typical
50,000 per year is the median
Lawyers
100 to 125 per hour
Doctors make
200 dollars an hour
What are some of the highest?
45,000 per hour
What do Congressmen make?
175,000 annual
60 dollars per hour
ARE WE Driving into a Ditch? Or not.
An Unlawful Congress?
• Posted on April 22, 2009 | Updated on Feb. 20, 2011
Q: Have 84 members of Congress been arrested for drunk driving in the last year? Have seven been arrested for fraud?
A: We judge these statistics to be not credible. They originated nearly a decade ago with a Web site that still refuses to provide any proof or documentation, or even to name those accused.
FULL QUESTION
I just received this e-mail – is it true?
Is It NBA Or NFL?
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full text ⬏
FULL ANSWER
We keep getting asked about this one, which has been going around for several years now in various forms. Our readers have plenty of reason to doubt its accuracy.
Update, Feb. 20, 2011: The website that originated these claims has withdrawn them. The series in which they originally appeared now makes no mention of them. Doug Thompson, proprietor of the Capitol Hill Blue site, wrote us to say:
Thompson: I removed the statistics from the series and let it stand on the cases cited with each members of Congress' name and the documentation surrounding the event. I did not double check the facts (which I should have done), nor did I write or edit the stories. But they are still my responsibility.
Red Flags
Just look at all the red flags flying here:
 The author is anonymous. We have no reason to trust this nameless person, and no way to assess his or her truthfulness, competence or motive.
 The author gives no source for any of these supposed statistics. The reader isn't told where they are coming from and has no way to check them out independently.
 The author accuses dozens of members of Congress of shady or criminal wrongdoing without naming a single one of them. Again, no chance to check or verify.
 The writer also gives no dates for any of these accusations, except for a vague reference to "last year." But since we don't know when this e-mail was written, "last year" could refer to 2007 or 2006 or (as it turns out) some much earlier year.
 Some of the claims, given a little thought, are wildly implausible. If 84 members of Congress really had been "arrested for drunk driving in the last year" that would mean that, on average, one or two House and Senate members were being arrested each week of 2008. Why haven't we been seeing big headlines? Could all of the nation's reporters have missed such a juicy story?
 The author claims to have highly confidential information. How does the author know that 71 House and Senate members "cannot get a credit card due to bad credit"? How would anyone know, unless they have power to subpoena private financial records?
The Source Revealed
The claims in this e-mail actually originate with a nearly 10-year-old series of articles on a Web site named "Capitol Hill Blue," which was founded by Doug Thompson, former director of the National Association of Realtors' political action committee and a former Republican political consultant. Earlier in his career, Thompson was a newspaper reporter in Roanoke, Virginia and Alton, Illinois. As we said in an earlier item, Capitol Hill Blue "has a history of relying on phony sources, retracting stories and apologizing to its readers." For details, see our "Ask FactCheck" item of Dec. 12, 2007.
In that item we looked into Thompson's claim, from anonymous sources, that President George W. Bush had "screamed" at his staff, "Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!" We said then: "We judge that the odds that the report is accurate hover near zero." And the odds are also very low that these statistics about members of Congress are accurate.
In Thompson's defense, the e-mail goes slightly beyond what he wrote. The e-mail claims that 36 members of Congress have been accused of spousal abuse, while Thompson put the number only at 29. And while the message claims that 84 House and Senate members were "arrested" for drunk driving, Thompson's article said that 84 "were stopped for drunken driving and released after they claimed Congressional immunity." He also added that "there is a big difference between being stopped for 'suspicion' of DUI [driving under the influence] and actually being charged with the offense." But he did not name the 29 accused spouse abusers or the 84 suspected drunks, or quote any law enforcement officials or cite any specific records in support of either claim.
The e-mail also makes the claim that the various statistics apply to "the 535 members of … Congress" but doesn't say whether that's the current Congress or a previous one. Thompson said his original story referred to "members of current and recent Congresses" back to 1992 (except for the drunk driving claim which referred only to 1998). By and large, however, the figures that are circulating now were pulled, however carelessly, from Thompson's report.
He called his series "Congress: America's Criminal Class," and much of it reported straightforwardly on legal or ethical troubles of a few House and Senate members who were identified by name. Some were well-known cases going as far back as the 1960s. But the series also contained a few sensational paragraphs laying out numbers contained in this e-mail. And ever since, Thompson has steadfastly refused to document those numbers.
Where did he get them? For the record, here is what he stated in Part I of his series, dated Aug. 16, 1999:
Capitol Hill Blue, 1999: Over the past several months, researchers for Capitol Hill Blue have checked public records, past newspaper articles, civil court cases and criminal records of both current and recent members of the United States Congress (since 1992). We have talked with former associates and business partners who have been left out in the cold by people they thought were friends. …
All checks were made through public records. Our researchers were not allowed to break any laws or misrepresent themselves to obtain this information.
Where are the "Public" Records?
So if all this information is contained in "public records," then it should be a simple matter to cite specific sources and provide documentation. But Thompson rebuffed reporters who asked for such backup at the time his report was published. We contacted him recently, and he again declined to provide any documentation or to cite specific public sources. He still won't even name those he accused nearly 10 years ago.
Thompson told us in an e-mail sent April 18: "I've explained before that we did not run a list of names because we could not determine the outcome of all of the cases. Some civil and domestic matters are settled out of court and the settlements are sealed. Some were dropped. We ran the numbers to show a pattern."
We find that explanation hard to accept. For one thing, Thompson claimed to know the outcome in some categories. For example, he wrote then: "Our research found 117 current and recent members of the House and Senate who have run at least two businesses each that went bankrupt, often leaving business partners and creditors holding the bag." Now he won't say who the 117 are. So there is no way to check on the accuracy of his claim.
Says Thompson: "I'm proud of that series and I stand by every fact and item used in it." The fact remains, he won't document the numbers.
Footnote: Mangling Mark Twain
Thompson took the title of his series from a famous witticism by author Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain. But Thompson got the quote wrong.
He led off the series with these words: "America, Mark Twain once said, is a nation without a distinct criminal class 'with the possible exception of Congress.' "
What Twain actually wrote was this: "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."
You don't have to take our word for it. Unlike Thompson and the anonymous authors of viral e-mails, we cite our sources and link you to them whenever possible so you can check them out for yourself. Twain's quip appears as a heading to Chapter VIII of his 1897 book, "Following the Equator," and he attributed it to his fictional character Pudd'nhead Wilson. The full text of Twain's book, no longer covered by copyright, is available online at the Gutenberg Project.
-Brooks Jackson
Sources
Jackson, Brooks. "Did President Bush call the Constitution a "goddamned piece of paper?" FactCheck.org. 12 Dec 2007.
Thompson, Doug. "Congress: America's Criminal Class" Parts 1-V. Capitol Hill Blue Web site, 16 – 20 Aug 1999 (accessed 21 April 2009).
Thompson, Doug. Interview with author via e-mail, 18 – 21 April 2009.
Twain, Mark (Samuel Clemens). "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar." Qtd. in Twain, "Following the Equator," 1897. Project Gutenberg EBook edition released 18 Aug 2006.

An Unlawful Congress? Posted on April 22, 2009 | Updated on Feb. 20, 2011
Q: Have 84 members of Congress been arrested for drunk driving in the last year? Have seven been arrested for fraud?
A: We judge these statistics to be not credible. They originated nearly a decade ago with a Web site that still refuses to provide any proof or documentation, or even to name those accused.
FULL QUESTION
I just received this e-mail – is it true?
Is It NBA Or NFL?
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full text ⬏
FULL ANSWER
We keep getting asked about this one, which has been going around for several years now in various forms. Our readers have plenty of reason to doubt its accuracy.

 The writer also gives no dates for any of these accusations, except for a vague reference to "last year." But since we don't know when this e-mail was written, "last year" could refer to 2007

Would you want to belong to this kind of organization?
If 36 of its members have been accused of spousal abuse?
If 7 of its members have been arrested for fraud?
If 19 of its members have been accused of writing bad checks
If 117 of its members have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
If 3 of its members have done time for assault
If 71 of its members cannot get a credit card approved due to bad credit
If 14 of its members have been arrested for drug related charges
If 8 of its members have been arrested for shoplifting
If 21 of its members are currently defendants in law suits
If 84 of its members have been arrested in the last year for drunk driving
Can you guess what business, institution or organization these stats refer to?
Congress
535 members
100 plus 435
53 = 10%
5 = 1%
Compare the real numbers in the population
50% are divorced
According to Barna research, the same percentage of criminals in jail re also Evangelical Christians in the whole population
The full analysis is located to the edge of this prezi
There is no mention of an Air Force in the Constitution.
Where does Congress get the authority to create an Air Force?
The Elastic Clause
Where does Congress get the authority to build dams?
The elastic clause
Otherwise, the Constitution would be gargantuan
What if this clause is abused?
Congressmen act like
Santa Claus
Paul Ryan
Full transcript