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How Congress is organized and how a bill becomes a law.

Aaron Hendrikson

on 7 November 2012

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Transcript of Congress

The United States Congress How is Congress organized?
(And who organizes it?) Party Leadership The Committee System How does a bill become a law? (The Art of Sausage Making) The Parties Party organization In the House and Senate... Democratic Caucus (House)
Democratic Conference (Senate) Republican Conference (House and Senate) Leaders In the House... Leaders In the Senate... Speaker of the House Floor Leaders (Majority and Minority Leaders) Whips President Pro Tempore Floor Leaders (Majority and Minority Leaders) Whips What do the leaders do? (What's their job? What are their goals?) Build Coalitions for Legislation Manage the floor Coordinate with the President Enhance the party's reputation 2 goals:
get members reelected
enact prefered policies Types of committees Standing Committees Joint Committees Conference Committees Committee Membership President Sign it (becomes law) Vetoes (kills it unless veto is overridden) Waits 10 days (becomes law without President's signature) Waits 10 days and during that time Congress adjourns
("Pocket Veto" - bill is killed) Step 1: a bill is proposed an drafted
Anyone can suggest an idea for a law (interest groups, average citizens, etc.)
But only a member of Congress can officially introduce a bill into the process. Step 2: The bill is introduced in the House
Bill is assigned a number beginning (e.g. H.R. 1071 or S. 1213) Step 3: the bill is assigned by the Speaker to the appropriate committee(s).
Full standing committee (e.g. Education Committee)
Sub-Committee Step 4: Committee Mark-up process
discuss the bill
suggest and vote upon amendments
send the bill to the full house? Step 5: Bill goes to the floor (i.e. the full House or Senate)
Debate in the House
a) before debate begins the Rules Committee sets conditions for debate (e.g. how long each member can speak) and amendments (allowed or not.)
b) Debate can be ended by a simple majority Democrats Republicans Step 6: Goes to the Senate Speaker's Powers:
Recognizing speakers
referring bills to committees
naming members to committees (standing and conference committees)
3rd in line to the presidency "Congress in session is Congress on exhibition, while Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work" - Woodrow Wilson What roles do members of Congress (senators and representatives) play? (What's their job?) 1. Legislative Role - members of Congress perform the legislative function of passing the laws that govern the United States. 2. Role of representation - members of Congress represent their constituents in the national government.
express their views
look after their interests
get federal funds for projects in their districts 3. Role of providing constituent services - members of congress have staff to help individual constituents with problems they are having relating to federal government agencies.
by providing good constituent services, members of Congress improve their reelection prospects by gaining the gratitude of the constituents who've been helped. 4. Oversight role - in addition to passing laws, Congress also performs an oversight function. It oversees the executive branch and investigates situations in which federal officials or agencies may be involved in misconduct or improper behavior. Usually this is done by holding congressional hearings that expose the misconduct to the public.
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