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A Level Politics - US Congress

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Michael Brodie

on 22 August 2018

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Transcript of A Level Politics - US Congress

The US Congress
What does the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act reveal about Congress?
What does the immigration debate reveal about Congress?
Congress Key Words
Key Question 1: How does Congress work?
How representative is Congress?
Key Question 3: How has the role of Congress evolved over time?
House of Representatives
Learning Objectives
Know - The structure of Congress.

Understand - How representative Congress is.

Skills - Comprehension, Evaluation
Success Criteria
Describes the structure of Congress.
Explains the differences in the membership of Congress.
Critically evaluates how representative Congress is.
Congress should endeavour to make the background of members more representative of the general population.
Congress Homework and Exam Questions
Congress and the Constitution
Watch the video and make notes.

Key areas:

Context: Constitutional Convention 1787 - The States Debate
Large states and small states debated the make up of Congress.

The argument focused on whether to have equal representation across states or representation by population.

Senate - 100 Members (2 per state)
House of Representatives - 435 (by population - ranges from 53 to 1)
Solution: The Great (Connecticut) Compromise
TASK: The Profile of Congress
Thought for the day
"that remarkable body, the most remarkable of all the inventions of modern politics."

British Prime Minister William Gladstone on the US Congress
Learning Objectives
Know - The powers of Congress.

Understand - The differences between the House and the Senate.

Skills - Knowledge and understanding,
Success Criteria
Recap - What are the powers of Congress?

How is the power of Congress kept in check?

Why is the power of Congress kept in check?
Learning Objectives
Know - The stages of the passage of a bill through Congress.

Understand - How the various stages interact with each other.

Skills - Creative presentation, summary and evaluation.
Success Criteria
Is the real work of Congress undertaken in the Committees?
Learning Objectives
Know - The different types of committee and their role and powers.

Understand - The extent of the influence the committee stage has on the passage of legislation.

Skills - Comparison, evaluation, extended writing, peer assessment.
Learning Outcomes
Explains the powers of Congress and the different Houses.
Judges the most significant power of Congress.
Evaluates the extent to which the Senate is the most prestigious chamber.
What powers does Congress hold?
HOT Question
Why is the Senate often considered more prestigious than the House of Representatives?
Powers of the Senate and House of Representatives Compared Use pp. 67- (Make sure each is explained underneath)
House of
Explain the key factors that affect the relationship between the Senate and the House of Representatives
(15 Marks)
Exam Practice - Past Question (June 2014).
Study the graphic. What effects might this make-up/ structure have on the relationship between House and Senate?
TASK: Congress and the Constitution
Using the constitution at the back of your book:

1.Make a bullet pointed list of the delegated (explicit powers) the US Constitution bestows on Congress.

2. Are there any powers which implied by the constitution?

Using pp. 63-67 and/or chromebooks support each power with a key example.
Key Questions:
Which is the most significant power?
How does the power of Congress compare to the power of Parliament?
How does the power of Congress compare to the power of the Presidency?
How important is leadership in Congress?
Learning Objectives
Know - The different leadership roles within Congress.

Understand - The most powerful position within Congress.

Skills - Independent Research,
Success Criteria
TASK: Reverse Teaching Congressional Leadership
House Majority Leader
House Speaker
President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Senate Majority Leader
Senate Minority Leader
Leadership in Congress
House Minority Leader
Find out the following and come back ready to teach me (and each other) about it.
House Speaker
House Majority Leader
House Minority Leader
Senate Majority Leader
Senate Minority Leader
President Pro Tempore of the Senate

1. Background - Who they are, where they represent, what party they are from, how long they have held the position etc.

2. What powers the position holds.

3. How much influence they have within their respective parties. Contemporary example.
Judges the most important leadership role in Congress by comparing the various roles.
Identifies the different leadership roles in Congress and provides information about the incumbents.
Explains the different powers of the various leadership roles in Congress.
RECAP: Name the powers of Congress (including House and Senate).
TASK: How much power do the party leaders exert in Congress?

Steps to success
Success Criteria
1. Compare different roles and their powers.

2. Use contemporary examples.

3. Include a conclusion.
Judges the most important leadership role in Congress by comparing the various roles.
Identifies the different leadership roles in Congress and provides information about the incumbents.
Explains the different powers of the various leadership roles in Congress.
TASK: The legislative Path
How does the legislative process work?
Using pp.74-79 create the journey of a bill.
The different stages
Information on these different stages.
Places where a bill might stall/fail.
Differences between the House and Senate
Use key terminology and examples.
Make it colourful and creative.
Identifies the different stages of the legislative process.
Explains in detail the different stages of the legislative process.
Evaluates each stage by explaining the problems associated with them.
TASK: Congress Questions
Which is the most important stage in the passage of legislation and why?

Using the table on p. 78. In which chamber is it most difficult to pass legislation. Use evidence from both sides of the argument to support your response.

"The legislative process in Congress is not fit for purpose." Discuss.
Due: Tuesday 4 November 2014
Choose 2 committees (1 House and 1 Senate) and create a powerpoint/prezi presentation:

1. Type of committee and what this means to its functions.
2. Details of membership and leadership (subject to change).
3. Recent examples of debate on legislation (at least two key bills - one must be recent).
4. Power and Prestige.
5. Evaluation/Judgment on its work.
"The House sits, not for serious discussion, but to sanction the conclusions of its committees as rapidly as possible. It legislates in its committee rooms; not by determination of majorities, but by the specially-commissioned minorities [the committees]; so that it is not far from the truth to say that Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, while Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work."

Woodrow Wilson, 1885,

Agree or Disagree?
TASK: Does the real power and work of Congress lie in its committees?
Defines congressional committees and explains their role in the legislative process.
Explains why Congressional Committees are seen as powerful.
Assesses the extent to which the work and power of Congress is concentrated within Congressional Committees.
TASK: Congressional Committees Roles and Powers
Steps to success:
1. Discuss the powers and role of Congress (use previous notes)
2. Compare these with the power and role of its committees (be specific).
3. Ensure your discussion includes both sides of the argument.
4. Conclusion which includes Judgment and discussion of their overall importance.
Success Criteria
Explains the role of Congressional committees.
Explains why Congressional committees may be regarded as powerful, using evidence.
Interrogates the question by critically evaluating different committees and their overall influence.
Evaluates the extent to which the power and work of Congress is concentrated within its committees.
Review Bubble
1. Which form of committee is most powerful?

2. Overall, how powerful are the committees of Congress?
Key Question 2: How effective is Congress?
Learning Objectives
Know - Key influences on the voting intentions of members of Congress.

Understand - The extent to which partisanship has increased in Congress.

Skills - Note-taking, independent research, extended writing.
Success Criteria
What factors influence the way members of Congress vote?
TASK: Voting Pressures Interactive Role-Play
Members of Congress are at the mercy of big business.
Explains the influences on Congressional voting.
Assesses the influences on Congressional voting.
How effective is Congress?
Learning Objectives
Know - Factors influencing the effectiveness of Congress.

Understand - The arguments for and against Congress being effective.

Skills - Gathering evidence, evaluating arguments, exam skills.
Success Criteria
Give as many reasons as possible why these cartoons reflect a popular belief in America about Congress.
TASK: Ineffective Congress?
Using the articles complete the following:

1. Evidence for effectiveness Evidence against effectiveness
2. Which are the strongest arguments in favour of Congress' effectiveness and ineffectiveness? Explain your answer.

TASK: Planning a 45 Mark Question
Next lesson:

‘The broken branch’ To what extent is this a fair assessment of Congress? 45 Mark (June 2012)

You have the rest of the lesson to plan.

Remember 3 arguments for and against.

Micro and macro analysis.

Tips from the exam board:
Introduction – explaining why there is a debate around this issue - and conclusion – summarising the key arguments
Clear structure - two halves, discussing first one side and then the second side of the debate, is the simplest structure and works well
First sentences of paragraphs which link to the title and the preceding paragraph, and which summarise the contents of the paragraph
Detailed up to date knowledge

Common problems:
Lack of relevant knowledge.
Uncertain focus on the question.
Imprecise and/or inaccurate expression.
Explains arguments for and against Congress' effectiveness.
Identifies the strongest arguments for explaining whether Congress is effective or ineffective.
Evaluates the extent to which Congress is effective or not.
Learning Objectives
Know - How Congress interacts with the President.

Understand - The extent to which Congress' power has been challenged by that of the presidency.

Skills - Exam practice, peer assessment, knowledge and understanding.
Success Criteria
How far has the power of Congress been eroded by the Presidency?
What were the intentions of the Founding Fathers when they created Congress?
Identifies features of Congressional interaction with the presidency.
Evaluates the extent to which the Office of the President has eroded Congressional power.
TASK: Congress vs the President
TASK: Promoting Progress
Purple pens of progress
1.) Read your own essay, my comments on it, and use the mark scheme to give it a grade.

Complete your Review Sheet at the front of your book.

With a purple pen:

Choose one paragraph to rewrite or complete with a conclusion etc in order to act upon targets I have given you.
Using the article ('The President as Commander in Chief') answer the following:

1.What does the US Constitution say about foreign policy? What are the presidents powers and constitutional checks?
2. Outline events which led to the growth of presidential power.
3. Outline key moments in the expansion of the president's war powers.
4. Explain the term 'imperial presidency.'
5. Explain what an executive arrangement is.
6. How successful have Congressional attempts been to control the president's foreign policy power.
TASK: Explain factors which affect the relationship between Congress and the president. (15 Marks)
Co-plan a response to the question.
Think about:
Powers - traditional and development.
Super majority.
Foreign vs. domestic policy.
Explains key factors influencing the relationship between Congress and the presidency.
Presidential success in Congress
Learning Objectives
Know - Key features of Obama Care.

Understand - The debate on the Act and what it reveals about the legislative process.

Skills - Note-taking, reading, knowledge and understanding, evaluation.
Success Criteria
Next week - Unseen 15 Mark Question on Congress - Monday 24 November
Describes key features of the Affordable Care Act.
Explains the legislative passage of Affordable Care Act.
Evaluates the extent to which the Affordable Care Act is represents a paragon of the legislative process.
How can we explain these figures?
TASK: Obamacare Observations
Read the article and answer the questions.
TASK: Independent Research
Research the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013

Find out:
Background (Why was it introduced?)
What is it?
What does it include?
Who are the Gang of 8?
What happened in the Senate?
What happened in the House?
What does this reveal about the legislative process? (Requires your own judgement.)
What happened in Nov 2014 and what has been the response?
Learning Objectives
Know - The content of the immigration debate.

Understand - What the immigration debate can reveal about the workings of Congress and the potential future for immigration reform.

Skills - Knowledge and understanding, independent research and presentation.
Success Criteria
HOT Question
What similarities and differences do the healthcare and immigration debates reveal about Congress?
TASK: History of Debate
Research the following:
1. Outline Obama's agenda on immigration.
2. What are Trump, Cruz and Clinton's agenda?
2. What is the DREAM Act?
3. What happened to the DREAM Act in the Senate?
4. Why has immigration reform been neglected?
Explains the recent history of the immigration debate.
Researches and explains key issues in recent developments in the immigration debate.
Compares and contrasts the immigration and healthcare debates in order to evaluate the legislative process.
select committee
standing committee
War Powers Act
elastic clause
Majority Leader
Minority Leader
Learning Objectives


Success Criteria
Has Congress moved beyond the original intentions of the Founding Fathers?
Evidence For
Evidence Against
Enumerated Powers - think interstate commerce, treaties, war etc.
Implied powers

Why do only a small percentage of bills introduced into Congress become laws?
(15 marks)
Third in line to the Presidency.
Most senior Senator of the majority whip usually holds the position (tradition began in 1949).
Declarations that the president is unable to perform the duties of the office must be transmitted to them.
Can make minor appointments to advisory boards and other Congressional commissions.
Use the clippings from the Congressional Research Service to complete the questions.
TASK: How representative is Congress?
Write a 2 paragraph response to this question.

Success Criteria:
*Consider both sides.
*Include specific evidence.
*Explain the trends.
*Include a range of different forms of demographics.
TASK: Obstacles to a Bill
Outline the obstacles to the legislative process explained in the video.

Discussion Point = Which of these obstacles is most significant and why?
TASK: How does the legislative process work?
TASK: Definition Match
standing committee
house rules committee
select committee
Using pp. 69-74:

Step 1:
Complete the sheet, use chrome books to help find examples.

Step 2:
Which form of committee is most powerful? Explain your answer?
EXTENSION - Are committee chairs too powerful?
a permanent, policy specialist committee of Congress playing key roles in both legislation and investigation.
a standing committee of the House of Representatives which performs the function of prioritising bills coming from the committee stage.
Usually ad hoc, they are set up to investigate a particular issue.
these are ad hoc and members are drawn from both houses to reconcile differences beten Senate and House of Representatives bills.
conference committee
How effectively does Congress fulfil its legislative role?
Learning Objectives
Know - The obstacles to Congress' legislative function.

Understand - How effective Congress is at legislating.

Skills - Presentation, knowledge and understanding.
Success Criteria
Describes what partisan gerrymandering is.
Explains consequences of partisan gerrymandering.
Evaluates the extent of the problem of partisan gerrymandering.
TASK: Partisan Gerrymandering
TASK: Challenges to the Legislative Process
STARTER: Analysing the 114th Congress (2015-2017)
What can these graphs tell us about:
a) the legislative process in America?
b) trends in the legislative process
1. Complete the tasks on the sheet.

Using pp. 82-83 answer the following:

2. What impact has the House Rules Committee had on legislation?

3. How has the use of Conference Committees changed over time and what is the impact?

4. What does analysis of the 114th Congress reveal about their legislative role?

5. How successful were the Republicans in achieving their stated agenda in the 114th Congress? Why do you think this is?
Extension - Research 3 of the bills mentioned in the the boxes on p.83.
How effective is Congressional Oversight?
Learning Objectives
Know - The means by which Congress conducts oversight of the executive branch.

Understand - How effective Congressional oversight of the executive branch is..

Skills - Inference, Note-taking and evaluation.
Success Criteria
Infers from graphs public views on Congressional Oversight.
Explains how Congress conducts Congressional Oversight.
Evaluates how effective Congressional Oversight is.
TASK: Congressional Oversight
STARTER: Opinions on Oversight
TASK: Congressional Hearings Research
Research the various Committee investigations into Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Find out:
*What they are investigating.
*Witnesses that have been called.
*Hearings held.
*Subpoena's issued.

HOT Questions
Is Congressional oversight simply party politics?

How significant is divided government for Congressional oversight?
To what extent and why has partisanship increased in Congress?
Step 1: Go to https://corg.indiana.edu/e-learning-module-how-member-decides-vote

Step 2: Complete the interactive role-play.

Step 3: As you go through record the different forms of pressure which you are exposed to.

Step 4: Pad out your notes with examples from pp.91-94
TASK: Examining a 15 Mark Essay
Step 1: Read the sample answer.

Step 2: Give it a mark out of 15.

Step 3: Improve it through acquired knowledge from the lesson. Think about:
a) Argument - Importance of different factors.
b) Specific examples.
c) Analysis.
Debates the role of big business in Congress.
Learning Objectives
Know - The key causes and extent of partisanship in Congress.

Understand - The extent to which partisanship has increased in Congress and its consequences.

Skills - Comprehension and evaluation.
Success Criteria
Explains the causes of increased partisanship in Congress.
Assesses the consequences of increased partisanship.
Debates the role of big business in Congress.
Nancy Pelosi
Paul Ryan
Orrin Hatch
Mitch McConnell
Chuck Schumer
Kevin McCarthy
* The Speaker of the House serves as the presiding officer of the House. In this capacity, the Speaker:
a) Calls meetings of the House to order
b) Administers the oath of office to new members
d) Ensures that order is maintained.
e) Makes rulings on disputed House procedures

*Appoints the chairpersons and members of standing House committees, select and special committees
*Appoints a majority of members to the important House Rules Committee
*Second in line to the Presidency.
*Determines which legislation is assigned to each committee and which legislation reaches the House floor for a vote and when legislation is debated.
*Serves as party spokesperson in the chamber.
Schedules business on the floor by calling bills from the calendar
*keeps members of his party advised about the daily legislative program.
*Coordinates party strategy.
*Fashions unanimous consent agreements by which the Senate limits the amount of time for debate.
*Powers are very similar to the Senate Majority Leader.
*Charged with scheduling legislation for floor consideration.
*Responsible for planning the daily, weekly, and annual legislative agendas
*Responsible for consulting with Members to gauge party sentiment; and, generally working to advance the goals of the majority party.
*Serves as floor leader of the "loyal opposition," and is the minority counterpart to the Speaker.
*Leadership responsibilities of the minority and majority leaders are similar.
*The minority leader speaks for minority party and its policies and works to protect the minority's rights.
Consider the following in your response:
*Why the Speaker of the House is so important.
*Why other leaders are less influential.
Why leadership in the house might be stronger than in the Senate.
*Other influences on Members of Congress.

STARTER: Tracking Partisanship
TASK: Partisanship in Congress.
STEP 1 - Read the article and answer the comprehension questions.

STEP 2 - Read the Gerrymandering Article - Write a summary of the main points about partisan gerrymandering.

STEP 3 - Which factor plays the most prominent role in increasing partisanship in Congress?
HOT Questions
What do you think the consequences of growing partisanship in Congress are?

Is partisanship always a negative thing?

What do you think the Founding Fathers would have thought of partisanship?
Why is Congress viewed so negatively by the public?
Learning Objectives
Know - Public Opinion of Congress

Understand - How accurate public opinion of Congress is.

Skills - Source Inference, Group work and research.
Success Criteria
Identifies features of the public's opinion of Congress.
Explains evidence for and against public criticisms of Congress.
Evaluates public criticisms of Congress.
TASK: Assessing the Common Public Perceptions of Congress
- In groups of 4 and research 3/4 of the issues each. Go through your notes, the textbook and use the chrome books to find relevant examples to support/challenge each statement.

- Give each statement a rating out of 5 for how accurate it is.

- Which of the public criticisms is most damaging for the reputation of Congress and why?
What can we learn about the public perception of Congress?
Full transcript