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chapter 9

Congress

0Chapter Focus


The central purpose of this chapter is to describe the Framers’ understanding of the role of Congress and to describe the roles and organization of Congress today. You should pay particular attention to the effects of organizational characteristics on the behavior of members of Congress and on the way that the House and the Senate perform their functions. After reading and reviewing the material in this chapter, you should be able to do each of the following:

10. Explain the differences between Congress and Parliament.

20. Describe the role that the Framers expected Congress to play.

30. Pinpoint the significant eras in the evolution of Congress.

40. Describe the characteristics of members of Congress.

50. Outline the process for electing members of Congress.

60. Identify the functions of party affiliation in the organization of Congress.

70. Explain the effect of committee reform on the organization of Congress.

80. Describe the formal process by which a bill becomes a law.

90. Identify the factors that help to explain why a member of Congress votes as he/she does.

100. Explain the ethical problems confronting Congress.

00Study Outline


I0. Uniqueness of the U.S. Congress

A0. Only democratic government with a legislative branch

B0. Comparison with British Parliament

10. Parliamentary candidates are selected by party

a0) Members of Parliament select prime minister and other leaders

b0) Party members vote together on most issues

c0) Re-nomination depends on loyalty to party

d0) Principal work is debating national issues

e0) Very little power, very little pay

20. Congressional candidates run in a primary election, with little party control

a0) Vote is for the man or woman, not the party

b0) Result is a body of independent representatives

c0) Members do not choose the president

d0) Principal work is representation and action

e0) Great deal of power; high pay; parties cannot discipline members

II0. The Evolution of Congress

A0. Intent of the Framers

10. To oppose concentration of power in a single institution

20. To balance large and small states: bicameralism

30. To have Congress be the dominant institution

B0. General characteristics of subsequent evolution

10. Congress generally dominant over the presidency for more than 140 years; exceptions: brief periods of presidential activism

20. Major struggles were within Congress

C0. After 200 years, House has usually embraced the view that power of individual members should be protected versus opportunities for leadership

10. Flirted with strong party leadership in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

20. When Republicans gained control in 1995, party leadership reasserted itself

30. Of late, the power of party loyalty has grown in House, while it has become weaker among voters

D0. The decentralization of the Senate

10. Never flirted with tight organization

20. Always insisted on unlimited debate

30. 1913 amendment permitting direct election (17th Amendment)

III0. Who is in Congress? (see Table 9.1)

A0. House characteristics

10. 435 member based on population (census every decade)

20. Northeast has lost seats; South/Southwest has gained in recent years

30. Two-year terms, elected in districts about equal in population

B0. Senate

10. Constitution-mandated two senators per state

20. Six-year terms, staggered elections

C0. Sex and race

10. Average: middle-aged white males

20. Number of women has increased (49 in House, 8 in Senate)

30. Number of blacks has increased (39 in House, 1 in Senate)

40. Importance of personal characteristics varies with issues (e.g., blacks and civil rights)

D0. Incumbency

10. Low turnover rates and safe districts common in Congress before 1980s

20. Incumbents increasingly viewed as professional politicians and out of touch with the people by the 1980s

30. Call for term limits; however, natural forces were doing what term limits were designed to do by the mid-1990s

40. Influx of new members should not distort incumbents’ advantage

50. Incumbents’ advantage due to name recognition and credit for local projects

E0. Party

10. Prior to 1950s, Democrats were beneficiaries of incumbency

20. Incumbents—particularly, Democrats—associated with the “mess in Washington” (e.g., budget deficits, scandals, bickering, special privileges)

30. Republicans control House and Senate after 1995

IV0. Getting Elected to Congress

A0. Need to win at least a plurality of votes under a party label

B0. Winning the primary

10. Collect signatures on petition to enter primary

20. Some states have run-off primary

30. Reduces influence of political party

40. Candidates run personalized campaigns; offers them independence from party in Congress
V0. The Organization of Congress: Parties and Interests

A0. Party organization—majority/minority leaders elected by own party members

B0. The Senate

10. President pro tempore presides; member with most seniority in majority party

20. Leaders are the majority leader and the minority leader, elected by their respective party members

30. Party whips keep leaders informed, round up votes, count noses

40. Policy Committee schedules Senate business

50. Committee assignments

a0) Democratic Steering Committee

b0) Republican Committee on Committees

C0. The House of Representatives

10. Leaders have more power due to chamber size and rules

20. Speaker of the House, as leader of majority party, presides over House

a0) Decides who to recognize to speak on the floor

b0) Rules of germaneness of motions

c0) Decides to which committee bills go

d0) Appoints members of special and select committees

e0) Has some patronage power

30. Majority party chooses majority leader; minority party chooses minority leader

40. Each party has a whip

50. Democrats use Steering and Policy Committee for assigning committee slots and scheduling; Republicans divide responsibility between two committees

60. Each party has a congressional campaign committee

D0. Party voting

10. Problems in measuring party votes (90% or 50% opposition figure can be used)

20. Party voting quite low by either measure

30. Ideology an important variable explaining party voting

40. Congressmen need advice on floor voting since they have little information—another variable behind party voting

E0. Caucuses: rivals to parties in policy formulation

10. By early 1980s, more than seventy

20. House black caucus particularly well known

VI0. The Organization of Congress: Committees (see the “Standing Committees of the Senate” and “Standing Committees of the House” boxes)

A0. Legislative committees—most important organizational feature of Congress

10. Consider bills or legislative proposals

20. Maintain oversight of executive agencies

30. Conduct investigations

B0. Types of committees

10. Select committees—groups appointed for a limited purpose and limited duration

20. Joint committees—those on which both representatives and senators serve

30. Conference committee—a joint committee appointed to resolve differences in the Senate and House versions of the same piece of legislation before final passage

C0. Standing committees (permanent)—most important type of committee

10. Majority party has majority of seats on the committees

20. Each member usually serves on two standing committees

30. Only committees that can report legislation

40. Chairs are elected, but usually the most senior member of the committee is elected by the majority party

50. The House, under leadership of Gingrich (1994–98), ignored seniority in chair selection

60. Committee “bill of rights” of 1970s changed several traditions

a0) Opened more meetings to the public

b0) Allowed television coverage of meetings

c0) Effort to reduce number of committees in 1995–1996

d0) Greater rights for minority members

70. Republican-sponsored changes in 1995 reduced further the powers of committee chairs (e.g., six-year limits and election by secret ballot)

D0. Committee styles

10. Decentralization has increased individual member’s influence

a0) Less control by chairs

b0) More amendments proposed and adopted

20. Ideological orientations of committees vary, depending on attitudes of members

30. Certain committees tend to attract particular types of legislators

a0) Policy-oriented members

b0) Constituency-oriented members

VII0. The Organization of Congress: Staffs and Specialized Offices

A0. Introduction

10. In 1900s, congressmen had little staff support

20. Since 1947, five-fold increase in staff size

B0. Tasks of staff members

10. Personal staff focuses on constituency service, perhaps explaining re-election success

20. Committee staff vary in terms of partisanship

30. Personal staff see themselves as advocates for boss, assuming entrepreneurial function

40. Reliance on staff makes Congress less collegial and deliberative

C0. Staff agencies offer specialized information

10. Congressional Research Service (CRS) supplies information

20. General Accounting Office (GAO) audits and recommends

30. Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) evaluates policy impact on technology

40. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) advises on impact of spending

D0. Reasons for a more polarized Congress

10. Way congressional districts are drawn

20. Voters becoming more partisan

30. Role of Seniority

VIII0. How a Bill Becomes Law (see the “How a Bill Becomes a Law” box)

A0. Introducing a bill

10. Introduced by a member of Congress

20. Much legislation has been initiated in Congress

30. Legislation drafted by the president is shaped by Congress

40. Resolutions

a0) Simple—passed by one house affecting that house

b0) Concurrent—passed by both houses affecting both

c0) Joint—passed by both houses, signed by president (except for constitutional amendments)

B0. Study by committees

10. Bill is referred to a committee for consideration by either Speaker or presiding officer

20. Revenue bills must originate in the House

30. Hearings are often conducted by several subcommittees: multiple referrals (replaced by sequential referral system in 1995)

40. Committee reports a bill out to the House or Senate

a0) If bill is not reported out, the House can use the discharge petition

b0) If bill is not reported out, the Senate can pass a discharge motion

50. House Rules Committee sets the rules for consideration

a0) Closed or restrictive rule: sets time limit on debate and restricts amendments

b0) Open rule: permits amendments from the floor

c0) Use of closed or restrictive rules growing

d0) Rules can be bypassed by the House

e0) No direct equivalent in Senate

C0. Floor debate, House

10. Committee of the Whole—procedural device for expediting House consideration of bills but cannot pass bills

20. Committee sponsor of bill organizes the discussion

D0. Floor debate, Senate

10. No rule limiting debate or germaneness

20. Entire committee hearing process can be bypassed by a senator

30. Cloture—three-fifths of Senate must vote for a cloture petition

40. Both filibusters and cloture votes becoming more common

50. Filibuster and “Exceptional Circumstances”

E0. Methods of voting

10. To investigate voting behavior, one must know how a legislator voted on amendments as well as on the bill itself

20. Procedures for voting in the House: voice, division, teller, and roll call

30. Senate voting is the same except no teller vote or electronic counter

40. Differences in Senate and House versions of a bill

a0) If minor, last house to act merely sends bill to the other house, which accepts the changes

b0) If major, a conference committee is appointed

(10) Decisions are made by a majority of each delegation; Senate version favored

(20) Conference reports back to each house for acceptance or rejection

50. Bill, in final form, goes to the president

a0) President may sign it

b0) If president vetoes it, it returns to the house of origin

(10) Either house may override the president by a vote of two-thirds of those present

(20) If both override, the bill becomes law without the president’s signature

IX0. How Members of Congress Vote

A0. Representational view (vote pleases constituents) has some merit under certain circumstances

10. Correlation strong on civil rights bills

20. Correlation weak on foreign policy measures

30. “Passionate” issues (e.g., gun control, abortion) difficult vote for members

40. Constituency influence more important in Senate votes

50. Public opinion not strong and clear on most congressional votes to support this view

B0. Main cues for organizational voting (vote pleases fellow members) are party and ideological affinity

C0. Attitudinal view (vote based on own ideology)

10. Democrats and Republicans differ along liberal/conservative lines

20. Opinions of House members closer to average voter; Senators less so

30. Democrats more ideologically divided

40. Conservative coalition, when formed usually wins (e.g., Reagan years)

D0. What It all Means

10. Members have localistic view

20. Policy making is decentralized

30. Members are individualist, with highly partisan views

40. Does not often engage in careful consideration

X0. Ethics and Congress (see the “How Congress Responds to the Misconduct of Members” box)

A0. Separation of powers and corruption

10. Fragmentation of power increases number of officials with opportunity to sell influence

20. Forms of influence: money and exchange of favors

B0. Problem of defining unethical conduct

10. Violation of criminal law is obviously unethical

20. Problems are raised over types of employment, income, campaign, contributions, or intervention with an executive agency

C0. House and Senate ethics code

10. Rules are directed at financial transactions

20. Seem to favor wealthy over members of modest means

XI0. The Power of Congress (see the “Congress Obeys the Law” box)

A0. Reassertion of congressional power in 1970s

10. Reaction to Vietnam and Watergate

20. War Powers Act of 1973

30. Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974

40. Increased requirement for legislative veto

B0. Congressional power never as weak as critics have alleged

C0. Presidential-congressional conflicts

10. Especially sharp when different parties control the two branches

20. Basic willingness of Congress to follow president on budget, foreign affairs

30. Congress reluctant to criticize a popular president

Key Terms Match


Match the following terms and descriptions:

Set 10


10. _____ A means by which the House can remove a bill stalled in committee.

20. _____ The theory of congressional voting behavior which assumes that members make voting decisions in order to please fellow members and obtain their goodwill.

30. _____ Plays an important role in the consideration of bills.

40. _____ A Senate rule offering a means for stopping a filibuster.

50. _____ A rule issued by the Rules Committee that does not allow a bill to be amended on the House floor.

60. _____ A means by which senators can extend debate on a bill in order to prevent or delay its consideration.

70. _____ A group of moderate-to-conservative democrats.

80. _____ The extent to which members of a party vote together in the House or the Senate.

90. _____ A theory of congressional voting behavior that assumes that members make voting decisions based on their perception of constituents’ wishes to ensure their own reelection.

100. _____ A theory of congressional voting behavior which assumes that members vote on the basis of their own beliefs because the array of conflicting pressures on members cancel one another out.

110. _____ Unrelated amendments added to a bill.

120. _____ Group of democratic senators that assigns other senators to the senate’s standing committee.

130. _____ An individual who assists the party leader in staying abreast of the concerns and voting intentions of the party members.

140. _____ Composed of a dozen or so senators who help the party leader schedule senate business.




a0. attitudinal view of representation

b0. policy committee

c0. closed rule

d0. cloture

e0. blue dog democrats

f0. discharge petition

g0. filibuster

h0. organizational view of representation

i0. rules committee

j0. party vote

k0. party whip

l0. steering committee

m0. representational view of representation

n0. riders






Set 20


10. _____ A special type of joint committee appointed to resolve differences in the House and Senate versions of a piece of legislation.

20. _____ The legislative leader elected by party members holding the majority of seats in the House or Senate.

30. _____ Investigates policies and recommendations on almost every aspect of government.

40. _____ A permanent committee of each house with the power to report bills.

50. _____ The ability of members of Congress to mail letters to their constituents free of charge.

60. _____ An association of members of Congress created to advocate a political ideology or a regional, ethnic, or economic interest.

70. _____ A congressional voting procedure that consists of members answering yea or nay to their names.

80. _____ The legislative leader elected by party members holding a minority of seats in the House or Senate.

90. _____ A committee on which both representatives and senators serve.

100. _____ Asserts how many times members of Congress spend a lot of time providing services, speeches, and mail to their local constituents.

110. _____ A resolution used to settle housekeeping and procedural matters that affect both houses.

120. _____ A resolution requiring approval of both houses and the signature of the president and having the same legal status as a law.

130. _____ Created in 1974, advises Congress on the likely impact of different spending programs and attempts to estimate future economic trends.

140. _____ Whoever happens to be on the floor, as long as at least one hundred members are present can debate, amend, and decide issues.

150. _____ Direct the spending of money.

160. _____ Part of the Library of Congress that responds to requests by members of Congress for information.




a0. caucus

b0. concurrent resolution

c0. conference committee

d0. general accounting office

e0. congressional research service

f0. franking privilege

g0. joint committee

h0. joint resolution

i0. majority leader

j0. minority leader

k0. congressional budget office

l0. roll call vote

m0. localistic viewpoint

n0. standing committee

o0. appropriations bills

p0. committee of the whole



Did You Think That . . . ?


A number of misconceptions are listed below. You should be able to refute each statement in the space provided, referring to information or argumentation contained in this chapter. Sample answers appear at the end of this chapter.0

01. 0“The Founders desired and expected the president and Congress to have equal authority.”

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

02. 0“The terms Parliament and Congress mean the same thing.”

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

03. 0“In Congress, Democrats and Republicans are loyal to their respective parties and vote accordingly.”

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________
04. 0“The committee system plays no essential role in how a bill becomes law.”

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

05. 0“A good, strong code of ethics would largely eliminate problems of corruption in Congress.”

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________


True/False questions


Read each statement carefully. Mark true statements T. If any part of the statement is false, mark it F, and write in the space provided a concise explanation of why the statement is false.0

10. T F In the United States members of Congress select the president.

______________________________________________________________________

20. T F If members of a party in power in Parliament vote against their leaders, a new government must be formed.

______________________________________________________________________

30. T F Congress is not constitutionally independent of the president.

______________________________________________________________________

40. T F The Framers did not want all powers concentrated in a single government institution.

______________________________________________________________________

50. T F To get elected to the House or Senate in most states, you only need to win more votes than the other candidates.

______________________________________________________________________

60. T F Because of population movements, many northeastern states have been losing seats in the House.

______________________________________________________________________

70. T F There has been no concern about establishing term limits for members of Congress.

______________________________________________________________________

80. T F Two senators from a given state are given staggered terms so that they don’t have to run against each other.

______________________________________________________________________

90. T F Americans tend to dislike both their legislators and the Congress.

______________________________________________________________________

100. T F Incumbents still enjoy enormous advantages in congressional elections.

______________________________________________________________________
110. T F A filibuster can only be used in the senate.

______________________________________________________________________

120. T F The most important person in the House is the party whip.

______________________________________________________________________

130. T F Ideological differences between party members in the House are more important than regional differences.

______________________________________________________________________

140. T F Just because one party has a majority in the House or Senate does not mean that it “controls” that chamber.

______________________________________________________________________

150. T F You have to win a majority of votes cast to get elected to Congress.

______________________________________________________________________

160. T F Most of the power in Congress is found in the party organizations.

______________________________________________________________________

170. T F Standing committees are more permanent and more important than select committees.

______________________________________________________________________

180. T F To a considerable degree, selecting committee chairmen by vote of a party caucus results in strong legislative leadership.

______________________________________________________________________

190. T F Congressional committees, although directed by the majority party, develop policies on the basis of verifiable evidence within the party context.

______________________________________________________________________

200. T F In recent years, the fastest-growing bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. has been the executive branch.

______________________________________________________________________

210. T F Congressional staffers often wield considerable political clout.

______________________________________________________________________

220. T F Committees are where the real work of Congress is done.

______________________________________________________________________

230. T F It is difficult for Congress to obtain a comprehensive view of an issue that cuts across committee boundaries.

______________________________________________________________________

240. T F Most bills sent to committees become law.

______________________________________________________________________

250. T F A filibuster is the means by which cloture is invoked.

______________________________________________________________________

260. T F How a member of Congress voted on key amendments to a bill is often more important than how that member voted on the bill itself.

______________________________________________________________________

270. T F Voters are becoming more partisan as a result of Congress becoming more partisan.

______________________________________________________________________

280. T F Legislators are more likely to vote as their constituents want on foreign policy measures than on domestic policy issues.

______________________________________________________________________

290. T F Most congressional votes are not known to most citizens.

______________________________________________________________________

300. T F Since most of the real business of Congress is done in committees and subcommittees, the process of making policy is highly centralized.

______________________________________________________________________

310. T F The spirit of individualism in Congress has increased the power of party leadership.

______________________________________________________________________

320. T F Most bills are not carefully deliberated by legislators.

______________________________________________________________________

330. T F Compared to a unitary system, a federal system with separation of powers limits opportunities for corruption.

______________________________________________________________________

340. T F Illegal payoffs to members of Congress appear to be the most frequent types.

______________________________________________________________________

350. T F Since the 1930s and 1960s, most scholars believe that the president has lost power to Congress.

______________________________________________________________________


Multiple Choice questions


Circle the letter of the response that best answers the question or completes the statement.0

10. A person ordinarily becomes a candidate for representative or senator by:

a0. appealing to party leaders.

b0. serving first in the state legislature.

c0. running in a primary election.

d0. serving first in a government agency.

e0. paying the required fee of $5,000.
20. Members of a parliament can only make one important decision which would consist of the following:

a0. whether to provide for a militia.

b0. whether to “make all laws necessary and proper.”

c0. whether to support the government.

d0. whether to borrow money.

e0. whether to coin money.

30. A basic difference between a parliament such as Great Britain’s and the U.S. Congress is that:

a0. the principal role of Congress is to debate national issues.

b0. members of a parliament have more power and higher pay.

c0. members of Congress are more likely to “vote the party.”

d0. Congress does not select a president.

e0. members of Parliament are more emotional.

40. A person becomes a member of the United States Congress by winning a __________ and a ________________.

a0. primary; general election.

b0. plurality; staggered election.

c0. constituency; plurality.

d0. discharge petition; voice vote.

e0. caucus; primary election.

50. Despite the ups and downs of party leadership, the power of party loyalty has _____ in the House.

a0. declined

b0. grown

c0. not been measured

d0. stayed the same

e0. been insignificant

60. The general trend in power distribution and decision making throughout the evolution of Congress has been toward:

a0. centralization—more power for leadership.

b0. decentralization—more power for leadership.

c0. centralization—more power for individual members.

d0. decentralization—more power for individual members.

e0. decentralization in order to cede more power to the president.

70. Each state must have at least one representative; how many more it has depends on its _____.

a0. relevance

b0. geographical size

c0. proximity to Washington, D.C.

d0. per capita income

e0. population

80. Originally members of the U.S. Senate were selected by:

a0. direct election of the people.

b0. the electoral college.

c0. party leaders.

d0. state legislatures.

e0. two-party caucuses


90. In terms of the composition of its membership, the House since 1950 has become:

a0. less male and less white.

b0. less male and more white.

c0. more male and less white.

d0. more male and more white.

e0. not noticeably different.

100. Today House membership has become less of a career with a(n):

a0. higher turnover of members.

b0. decrease in marginal districts.

c0. increase in safe districts.

d0. lower turnover of members.

e0. higher number of forcible removals due to ethics violations.

110. By 1995, there were scores of new members who were serving their first or second term. Which of the following factors contributed to this?

a0. after the 1990 census, many incumbents were in new districts that they could not carry

b0. voter disgust at a variety of scandals

c0. the Republican Congressional victory of 1994

d0. all of the above

e0. none of the above

120. Possible reasons why incumbents win so frequently include all of the following except:

a0. voting for the person rather than the party.

b0. access to free mailings.

c0. free publicity.

d0. name recognition.

e0. personal finances.

130. Probably the major reason why the tendency of voters to return incumbents to office has helped Democrats more than Republicans is that:

a0. Democrats have more effectively organized the media and various interest groups to support their incumbents.

b0. the advantages of incumbency began to take effect at a time when Democrats controlled Congress.

c0. Democrats have been able to use their power more effectively to change election rules.

d0. the powers of incumbency tend to be more closely associated with “Democratic causes,” such as civil rights.

e0. Democrats are more effective at fundraising.

140. A candidate running for Congress today is most likely to attempt to instill among voters a high opinion of the:

a0. democratic system.

b0. home district.

c0. candidate.

d0. candidate’s party.

e0. federal system.

150. True leadership in the senate resides with the:

a0. majority leader.

b0. minority leader.

c0. president protempore.

d0. majority whip.

e0. minority whip.

160. For newly elected Senators, their political careers, chance to help their constituents, etc. will depend largely on their _____ assignments.

a0. committee

b0. individual

c0. fund-raising

d0. investigative

e0. temporary

170. Leadership position in the House carry more power than in the Senate because of:

a0. the number of members.

b0. house rules.

c0. focused committees.

d0. decentralization in the House.

e0. the charisma of House leaders.

180. Among the many powers of the House Speaker is that he:

a0. decides to which committee bills go.

b0. assigns party members to the various committees.

c0. keeps party leaders informed about the opinions of their party members.

d0. schedules legislation.

e0. is a member of the National Security Council.

190. Since 1975, the Speaker has been able to select the majority party members of the _____, which plays an important role in considering bills.

a0. standing committee

b0. ethics committee

c0. select committee

d0. conference committee

e0. rules committee

200. One reason why members of Congress tend to support the policy positions of their party is that:

a0. those positions often coincide with their own ideology.

b0. congressional rules require party support on all “partisan issues.”

c0. support for the party position is essential in the eyes of most voters.

d0. the party pays most of their campaign expenses.

e0. they can be “fined” for not doing so.

210. A growing rival to the parties in Congress as a source of policy leadership is (are) the:

a0. junior members.

b0. Democratic Study Group.

c0. General Accounting Office.

d0. congressional caucuses.

e0. third parties.

220. A coalition of moderate-to-conservative Democrats in the House:

a0. blue dog democrats

b0. yellow dog democrats

c0. Christian coalition

d0. mudruckers

e0. Democratic Study Group


230. Because they are usually the only ones that can report out bills, the committees that are the most important are the:

a0. joint committees.

b0. conference committees.

c0. standing committees.

d0. select committees.

e0. semi-active.

240. Since the 1970s, the chairpersons of House committees have been chosen by:

a0. secret ballot.

b0. voice vote.

c0. seniority.

d0. the committee on committees.

e0. roll call vote.

250. If you were a newly elected member of the House of Representatives interested in becoming an expert on a particular policy, and in influencing your colleagues on this policy, you would probably ask to be assigned to the:

a0. Rules Committee.

b0. Ways and Means Committee.

c0. Public Works and Transportation Committee.

d0. Ethics Committee.

e0. Agriculture Committee.

260. A major function of a legislator’s staff is to help _____ solve problems and thereby help that member of Congress get reelected.

a0. other members

b0. bureaucrats

c0. the executive branch

d0. interest groups

e0. constituents

270. Which of the following is not a staff agency that works for Congress?

a0. congressional research service

b0. general accounting office

c0. congressional budget office

d0. office of budget and management

e0. none of the above

280. Which of the following statements about introducing a bill in Congress is correct?

a0. A bill not passed during the life of one Congress cannot be introduced again during the next Congress.

b0. Bills are initiated by the president, not by Congress.

c0. A bill not passed during the life of one Congress is dead.

d0. Most bills introduced today are private rather than public bills.

e0. all proceedings must be closed to the public.

290. A bill is referred to a committee for consideration by either the _____ or _____.

a0. party whip, minority leader.

b0. committee chairman, caucus leader.

c0. sergeant at arms, minority leader.

d0. Speaker of the House, Presiding Officer of the Senate.

e0. minority leader, party chairman.

300. The effect of allowing bills to be debated under open rather than closed or restrictive rules is to:

a0. reduce the time needed to vote on a final bill.

b0. give greater control to the committees.

c0. set a time limit on debate.

d0. increase the number of amendments.

e0. allow more access to special interests.

310. Unlike the House, the scheduling of legislation in the Senate is:

a0. controlled by the Rules Committee.

b0. initiated by means of a discharge petition.

c0. governed by closed rather than open rules.

d0. determined by the majority and minority leaders.

e0. only accomplished via the vice-president.

320. Which of the following statements about different methods of voting for a bill in the House and Senate is correct?

a0. Roll-call votes in the House are handled orally.

b0. Individual votes many be recorded or not.

c0. Roll-call votes are less numerous today than they were forty years ago.

d0. A division vote involves member shouting “yea” or “nay.”

e0. Electronic voting is never used.

330. Which of the following statements about conference committee reports is correct?

a0. They can be amended but cannot be rejected.

b0. They can neither be rejected nor amended.

c0. They must be approved by a majority of each party delegation.

d0. They tend to favor the House version of a bill.

e0. They only apply to appropriations bills.

340. The explanation for congressional voting behavior that assumes that members vote to please their constituents is referred to as:

a0. representational.

b0. conventional.

c0. organizational.

d0. attitudinal.

e0. pork-barreling.

350. As a member of Congress, you vote for a dairy-support bill because it is consistent with your thinking as a liberal Democrat. Political scientists would describe your vote as:

a0. attitudinal.

b0. organizational.

c0. representational.

d0. conventional.

e0. atypical.

360. Over the past three decades, senators, compared with the average voter, were consistently more:

a0. conservative.

b0. liberal.

c0. conservative in the 1970s and liberal in the 1980s and 1990s.

d0. liberal in the 1970s and conservative in the 1980s and 1990s.

e0. independent on all issues.


370. Which of the following aspects best characterized the structure of the House of Representatives during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s?

a0. powerful committee chairpersons; long apprenticeship for new members; small congressional staffs.

b0. localized viewpoint; decentralized policy making.

c0. centralized party leadership; rapid turnover of membership; many amendments and filibusters.

d0. decentralized and weak party leadership; fewer amendments and filibusters; broad, national viewpoint.

e0. centralized leadership and localized viewpoints.

380. Rules that assume money is the only source of political corruption fail to account for:

a0. the role of education.

b0. the influence of parties.

c0. political alliances and personal friendships.

d0. income derived from speaking and writing.

e0. the role of the media.

390. In 1973, Congress passed, over a presidential veto, the _____ giving Congress more authority in the use of American forces aboard.

a0. War Powers Act

b0. Congressional Budget Act

c0. Ethical Control Act

d0. Campaign Finance Act

e0. Education Control Act

400. Congress was moved to reassert its authority beginning in the early 1970s as a consequence of:

a0. Watergate and the energy crisis.

b0. Vietnam and Watergate.

c0. rampant inflation and Vietnam.

d0. the energy crisis and rampant inflation.

e0. immigration and wages.


Essay questions


Practice writing extended answers to the following questions. These test your ability to integrate and express the ideas that you have been studying in this chapter.0

10. Do you think Congress has ceded too much power to the president over the past sixty years? Why or why not?

20. Should members of Congress adopt term limits? What would be some of the advantages and disadvantages of having term limits?

30. Which of the three kinds of explanations listed in the book on how members of congress vote do you agree with? Discuss some of the other influences that can impact how members vote.

40. A democratic government is based on the idea that the will of the people prevails. Does Congress act this way? In answering, consider elections to Congress, how Congress operates, and the factors that influence the voting behavior of members.

00001Applying What You’ve Learned


The legitimacy of republican government depends on the degree to which elected representatives express the will of their constituents. The view that unless majority opinion is enacted in legislation, the people cannot be said to rule, is much too simplistic, however. Representatives must also resist temporary impulses that consume the public. The majority can sometimes be swayed by irrational emotions, especially during times of crisis. In such instances, obeying popular opinion could threaten the national welfare.

Members of Congress have a difficult balancing act to perform when deciding whether to yield to popular preferences in situations in which their personal convictions are in disagreement. But why should members of Congress even worry? Fewer than half of Americans of voting age know the name of the person representing them in Congress, and eighty-one percent cannot say how their representative voted on any piece of legislation in the last two years. Because more than ninety percent of the members of Congress are reelected to office, it would seem that legislators have little to fear from their constituents no matter how they vote.

Is the concept of representative government a farce in the United States? This question can be answered only by examining how members of Congress actually vote. The text outlines three theories of the voting process in Congress: representational, organizational, and attitudinal. Review the chapter to become familiar with these three versions of congressional voting behavior. According to the text, each view has merits as well as flaws.

John Kingdon has developed a model that incorporates elements from each theory of how members in Congress make up their minds on voting decisions. [Randall Ripley, Congress: Process and Policy, 4th ed. (New York: Norton, 1988), p. 133.] The model takes into account most aspects of Congress, from staff to party leadership to constituents, and thus provides a useful framework for structuring the material in the chapter. The model is based on three assumptions:0

10. Members search for information about a decision they must make only if they define that decision as having some kind of problem associated with it.

20. Members have no problems with, or difficulty in making, many decisions. This is true when (a) all the forces that normally affect members’ decisions (interest groups, staff, constituencies, administration, party leadership, other members, and personal attitudes) agree that a given decision is proper, (b) members feel very strongly about the matter at hand, or (c) members have well-established voting records on the issue or ones that are similar.

30. Members make up their minds in a “consensus mode of decision” most of the time. They first determine whether a vote is controversial; if it isn’t, any decision is relatively cost free. When the potential for controversy is perceived, members will check their “fields of forces” to see how much conflict exists. If the actors in the fields of forces all agree on the proper decision, a member will go along with them. If only one actor is out of line, most of the time the member will vote against the actor (ninety-three percent of the time in Kingdon’s data). If two actors are out of line, the chances of going with the minority forces rise (seventeen percent of the time in Kingdon’s data). It is worth noting that the force called “own attitude” is by far the most potent in explaining members’ defections from the majority view of fields of forces in disagreement with their views. Members use a calculus—which varies in detail from person to person—in arriving at decisions. The calculus allocates weight both to outside forces and to the members’ own judgments.
The model combines many topics discussed in the chapter in an integrated fashion. Consider the following issues raised by the model:0

10. It is only on controversial questions that members even consider what relevant actors (or forces) think about a voting decision. If few votes fall into this category, how do members decide on votes that are noncontroversial? The chapter provides numerous clues. Reread the material on the legislative process, focusing on how most decisions are made in Congress.

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

20. Kingdon assigns almost equal weight to each force. Does any material presented in the chapter suggest that certain actors may be more significant at times? Does the issue involved in a particular vote enhance the importance of one actor over that of others?

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

30. Kingdon indicates that members’ personal beliefs are especially important in voting decisions. Are there any reasons for members’ values to operate to the advantage of constituents rather than outside forces?

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

40. The text enumerates many flaws in the three views of voting behavior in Congress. Does Kingdon’s model possess any of these deficiencies?

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

50. Does Kingdon’s model apply equally to voting habits in both the House and the Senate? Keep in mind that outside forces operate quite differently on the members of each chamber.

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________


60. How would you amend Kingdon’s model in light of these considerations?

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

0Research and Resources

0Suggested Readings


Arnold, R. Douglas. The Logic of Congressional Action. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1990. Explains why Congress enacts the policies it does, especially those that serve general as opposed to special interests.

Davidson, Roger H. and Walter J. Oleszak. Congress and Its Members, 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: Congress Quarterly Press, 1996. Good nonpartisan summary of how people get to Congress and how they behave while there.

Dodd, Lawrence C., and Bruce I. Oppenheimer, eds. Congress Reconsidered, 7th ed. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2001. Recent studies on congressional politics.

Fenno, Richard F., Jr. Congressmen in Committees. Boston: Little, Brown, 1973. Study of the styles of twelve standing committees.

Maass, Arthur. Congress and the Common Good. New York: Basic Books, 1984. Insightful account of congressional operations, especially those involving legislative-executive relations.

Malbin, Michael J. Unelected Representatives. New York: Basic Books, 1980. Study of the influence of congressional staff members.

Mayhew, David R. Congress: The Electoral Connection. New Haven: Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974. Argues that a member of Congress’s desire to win reelection shapes his or her legislative behavior.

Oleszek, Walter J. Congressional Procedure and the Policy Process, 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1995. Clear, factual summary of how Congress operates.

Rhode, David W. Parties and Leaders in Postreform House. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. An account of the increase in partisanship in the House of Representatives since the 1970s.

0Resources on the World Wide Web


House of Representatives: www.house.gov

Senate: www.senate.gov

Library of Congress has two web sites about Congress:

thomas.loc.gov

http://thomas.loc.gov/links/

For news about Congress:

Roll call magazine: www.rollcall.com

C-SPAN programs about Congress: www.c-span.org

For Congressional voting records, campaign contributions, and ethics:

www.citizen.org/congress

answers

Key Terms Match

Set 1


10. f

20. h


30. i

40. d


50. c

60. g


70. e

80. j


90. m

100. a


110. n

120. l


130. k

140. b

Set 20


10. c

20. i


30. d

40. n


50. f

60. a


70. l

80. j


90. h

100. m


110. b

120. g


130. k

140. p
150. o

160. e

Did You Think That…?0


10. The Founders wanted Congress to be the dominant institution because of their fear of an executive dictatorship.

20. While they both pass laws, a Parliament chooses the chief executive while a Congress does not.

30. Party voting in the House is still relatively low because there is little party discipline and because members respond to important constituency interests that may not coincide with the policy of their party.

40. Most of the power in congress is found in the committee system. This includes the process for a bill becoming a law.

50. The complexity of Congress and its reliance on exchanges of votes in developing a winning coalition in support of a bill leave many opportunities for senators and representatives to take advantage of their positions in unethical ways.

True/False Questions0


10. F. The voters choose the president.

20. T


30. F. Congress is constitutionally independent.

40. T


50. T

60. T


70. F. A movement to impose term limits was started in 1969.

80. F. It is so that they don’t stand for reelection during the same year.

90. F. Americans like their senators and representatives, but not Congress.

100. T


110. T

120. F. The Speaker is the most important.

130. T

140. T


150. F. You only need to win a plurality.

160. F. Power is found in the committees and subcommittees.

170. T

180. F. It weakens the power of committee chairpersons.



190. F. Ideology of the committee and its chairman also determines policies.

200. F. The congressional bureaucracy has been the fastest growing.

210. T

220. T


230. T

240. F. Most bills die in committee.

250. F. A filibuster is extended debate in the Senate.

260. T


270. T

280. F. The other way around.

290. T

300. F. It is highly decentralized.



310. F. It has never decreased the power of party leadership.

320. T


330. F. It increases the opportunities.

340. F. Noncriminal actions are probably most frequent.

350. F. It is actually the other way around.

Multiple Choice Questions0


10. c

20. c


30. d

40. a


50. b

60. d


70. e

80. d


90. a

100. a


110. d

120. e


130. b

140. c


150. a

160. a


170. b

180. a


190. e

200. a


210. d

220. a


230. c

240. a


250. b

260. e


270. d

280. c


290. d

300. b


310. d

320. b


330. c

340. a


350. a

360. d


370. b

380. c


390. a

400. b

Applying What You’ve Learned0


10. Much noncontroversial voting could be based on following cues from members of the sponsoring committee because representatives know little about the content of most bills.

20. On issues about which a district has a clear attitude (civil rights), members tend to vote according to constituent desires. Other issues, such as foreign policy, show only a weak correlation between district attitude and voting in Congress.

30. Members have a strong local orientation because of constant electoral accountability and the fact that members themselves are products of their local environment.

40. Kingdon’s model reflects some flaws of the models examined by the text in assuming that constituents and parties have articulated positions on most issues.



50. Constituents probably have less influence on senators because it is more difficult for an entire state to have a clear opinion on an issue. Senators are also more independent; this makes the power of party leaders less significant.

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