The congress study guide

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AP POLITICAL SCIENCE NAME __________________________

MR. CRUMP PERIOD _________

Answer the following questions from our class discussion:


1. What are the presiding officers of the House of Representatives and Senate? What powers do each one have? How are they chosen? Who is the Speaker of the House? Who is the Majority Leader of the Senate?

2. How are the political parties organized in the House and Senate?

3. Committees:

a. What are the powers possessed by the committees in Congress?

b. How is membership on a committee determined?

c. How is a committee’s leadership determined?

  1. Explain the functions of each of the major or types of committees in Congress.

4. Discuss the following differences between the House and the Senate using the chart Mr. Crump passed out.

a. Constitutional

b. Operational

c. Changes over the last 30 years.
5. Congressional Staff:

a. What staff does a congressman have in his own office?

b. What staff agencies serve Congress?

6. What does the Constitution say about House and Senate membership requirements?

7. Define the following:

a. President of the Senate
b. President Pro tem of the Senate
c. Majority / Minority Leader

d. Whip

e. Party Caucus

f. standing committee

g. subcommittee

h. select committee

i. joint committee

j. conference committee


1. Explain each of the following types of legislative powers:

a. expressed
b. denied
c. implied
d. inherent

2. What investigative powers does Congress possess?

3. What is the power float?

4. What happened to Congress in the Power Earthquake of 1974?

5. Explain each of the following types of powers in Congress:

a. formal
b. informal (soft sides of power)

6. What are some of the problems that have troubled Congress in the last 30 years?

7. What reforms have taken place in Congress during the last 30 years?

8. You should be familiar with the formal AND informal process of how a bill becomes law. This was covered in the class handout.

9. Define the following terms related to the law-making process:

a. public bill

b. private bill

c. joint resolution

d. concurrent resolution

e. simple resolution

f. "mark up"

g. House Rules Committee

h. Union Calendar

i. House Calendar

j. Private Calendar

k. Consent Calendar

l. Discharge Calendar

m. Executive Calendar

n. Senate Calendar of Business

o. filibuster

p. cloture

q. sunshine bills

r. sunset legislation

s. veto / pocket veto / line item veto

t. veto override

u. Congressional Record


Describe the following power games in the Power Game film

1. the survival game

2. the constant campaign

3. the money game

4. inside of Capitol Hill game

5. the opposition game

D. Chapter 13 Answer the following questions by reading Chapter 13. (Fill this part in)

1. Why is Congress considered the most important branch of government? Why is it also considered to be the broken branch of government and so unpopular?

2. Explain the following differences between Congress and Parliament:

a. What is the meaning of the term Congress? Parliament?
b. How one becomes a member of Congress? Parliament?

c. What one does as a member of Congress? Parliament?

d. Who one represents in Congress? Parliament?

3. Why can it be said that Congress was designed by the Founders in ways that almost always make it unpopular with voters?

4. Why did the Framers choose to place legislative powers in the hands of a Congress rather than a parliament?

5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of centralized and decentralized power in Congress?

6. Describe what happened to power in the House in each of the following periods: (see box on pp. 318-319)

a. Phase I: The Powerful House (Founding Period)

b. Phase II: The Divided House (1820s to 1860s)

c. Phase III: A Speaker Rules (1880s -1910s)

d. Phase IV: The House Revolts (1910s - 1950s)

e. Phase V: The Members Rule (1960s - 1970s)

f. Phase VI: The Leadership Returns (1990s to present)

7. Why does the House have problems being big and powerful?

8. Why are the problems faced by the Senate different than those of the House?

9. Explain the changes made by the Senate in each of the following areas:

a. how members should be chosen

b. the filibuster

c. What is cloture? How many Senators are needed today for cloture?


10. What are the characteristics of Congress in regards to

a. Sex and Race

b. Incumbency

(1) What is incumbency? How did attitudes toward being in Congress change?

(2) What three things were responsible for having fewer incumbents in the early 1990s?

(3) What is a marginal district? What is a safe district?

(4) Why have congressional seats become less marginal?

c. Party

(1) Why were the Democrats able to dominate the House until 1994?

(2) What were some reasons given to explain why the Democrats lost control of Congress in the 1990s?

(3) What are some reasons given to explain why the Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006?

(4) What was the Conservative Coalition?


11. Define the following views of how a member of Congress may vote and then explain the pros and cons of voting that way on an issue.

a. representational view

b. organizational view

c. attitudinal view

12. What is a constituent? A constituency?


13. Why has Congress become an increasingly ideological organization?

14. What have been some of the results of the polarization of Congress? What are some examples of these results?


15. What is the difference between the party structures in the House and Senate?


16. How does party control affect the Senate? The House?

17. What is the difference between the strength of the party structures in the House and Senate?

18. How has party unity in Congress changed in recent years?

19. If voter are usually in the center on political issues why is there a deep division between the parties? List four reasons.

20. What fact will tell you more about a Congressman than any other? Why is this so?
21. What is a caucus? What are the types of caucuses in Congress?

22. How influential are caucuses in Congress and how have their roles changes in the last 30 years?


23. How is committee membership decided? How is committee leadership decided?

24. Why are standing committees the most important?

25. How was the selection of committee chairs changed in the 1970s? What changes did the Republicans make in 1995? What did the Democrats change in 2007?

26. What changes did the committee "bill of rights" of the 1970s bring to Congressional Committees?

a. House of Representatives

b. Senate

27. What effects has the decentralization of Congress since the 1970s had on the institution?

28. What changes did the Republican House and Senate members made in committees

during the 1990s?

a. House

b. Senate


29. What are the tasks of congressional staff members?

30. Why have staffs experienced rapid growth in recent years? How has this changed Congress?

31. What are the functions of each of the following staff agencies?

a. Congressional Research Service (CRS)

b. General Accounting Office (GAO)

c. Office Technology Assessment (OTA)

d. Congressional Budget Office (CBO)


32. Define the following terms as they relate to how bills become laws:

a. difference between fast and slow tracks

b. the Hopper

c. difference between a private bill and a public bill

d. types of resolutions

(1) simple

(2) concurrent

(3) joint

33. Legislative Productivity

a. What has happened to legislative productivity in recent years?

b. What are some reasons given for the current legislative productivity of Congress?

34. What is divided government? What are the effects of divided government on legislation?

35. What are earmarks? Why are earmarks so controversial?

36. What are some issues brought about by the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks concerning Congress? What are some differences between the House and the Senate over these issues?

37. Answer the following about the study by committees of bills:

a. multiple referral to committees

b. Sequential referral

c. Ways and Means Committee

d. House Rules Committee

e. discharge petition

f. closed rule/ open rule/ restrictive rule

g. log rolling (p. 469)

i. riders (p. 347)

j. "Christmas Tree" Bill (p. 347)

38. Answer the following about debate on the House and Senate floors

a. What is a quorum? A quorum call?

b. How is debate on the Senate floor different than that on the House floor?

c. cloture vote

d. double tracking

e. voice / teller / roll call votes

39. What happens if a bill passes the House and the Senate in different forms?


40. Why is Congressional reform so difficult?

41. What is the franking privilege? How has it been abused?

42. Why did Congress, for many years, exempt itself from the laws it passed? How was this problem solved?

43. What is pork barrel legislation? Why isn’t it the villain it is made out to be? Why couldn’t it be totally eliminated?

44. What is an entitlement program? Why were they a main cause of budget deficits?

45. What are the current rules on Congressional ethics in each of the following areas? (see

box on p 352)

a. gifts
b. lobbyists
c. fee
d. travel
e. lobbying by ex-members

46. Explain how Congress raises its pay. (see box on p 352)


Answer the following from our class discussion.

1. From the chart we received in class know the basic steps of the policy-making process and the groups involved in each step.

a. Identifying the problem / setting the agenda

b. Policy input
c. Policy formulation (Iron Triangle)
d. Policy implementation
e. Policy evaluation

Chapter 17—Answer the following by reading Chapter 17. (Fill in this part)

1. What is the most important decision in policy making? What is the definition of the political agenda?

2. What forces determine what is legitimate for the government to do? Why does the scope of government seem to get larger?
3. Explain the following about pressure groups and the public agenda:

a. How do they expand the agenda?

b. What determines their success?

4. What role do each of the following have in the policy making process:

a. courts

b. bureaucracy

c. Senate

5. What role does the media play in the policy making process?

6. How are state governments becoming more involved in the national policy making process?

7. Every political decision has its costs and benefits. Explain the following:

a. What is meant by costs?

b. What is meant by benefits?

c. What aspects of these costs and benefits need to be remembered?

8. Describe the following types of politics and give examples of each:

a. majoritarian

b. interest group

c. client

d. entrepreneurial

9. Explain how each of the four types of politics have influenced business regulation.

a. majoritarian

b. interest group

c. client

d. entrepreneurial

10. Describe the role that perceptions, beliefs, interests and values lay in determining the costs and benefits of a policy.

11. How does the case of long distance telephone deregulation show about the following:

a. client politics

b. entrepreneurial politics

12. What reasons are given by the authors of The Politics of Deregulation for the deregulations of the 1980s and 1990s?

13. Why can deregulation be so controversial?

14. What is process deregulation?

15. How do client politics limit the power of ideas?


From what you know about the policy making process you should be able to do the following:

Summarize the social welfare policy making process by making a diagram or flow chart of the process. Identify the players in each step of the social welfare policy making process using the policy-making flow chart.

1. Who would be the players in the Iron Triangle of social welfare policy making?

2. What executive branch bureaucracy would be involved in its implementation?

Chapter 19—Answer the following by reading Chapter 19. (Fill in this part)
1. What are the two kinds of welfare programs in the U.S.? List some examples of each kind and explain which kinds represent majoritarian politics and which kinds represent client politics.

2. Explain the political difference in dealing with majoritarian welfare programs and client based welfare programs.

3. Describe the following factors that have shaped US social welfare policy:

a. Who should benefit from welfare policy?

(1) Who do Americans believe should benefit from welfare policy?

(2) What is the alternative view of welfare policy in other countries?

b. Timing of welfare policy

(1) Why did American welfare policy arrive so late in our history?
(2) Why didn’t US welfare policy blossom when Great Britain’s did?

c. Federal Involvement

(1) Why has the Federal Government been involved in welfare policy at such a high degree when the Constitution was silent on the issue?

(2) Why do state programs have a double edge effect on welfare policy?

d. Administration of welfare policy

(1) How are US welfare programs administered?

(2) What is charitable choice?

4. Using the box on page 511 list the following social welfare programs:

a. Contributory or “entitlement” programs

b. Assistance or noncontributory programs

5. Describe the following two parts of the Social Security Act of 1935.

a. the insurance program

b. the assistance program

c. Why did Pres. Roosevelt feel he needed this welfare policy?

6. What are means tests?

7. What were the major hurdles Congress faced in getting the Medicare Program passed? What did supporters of this bill do to get it passed? What kind of politics did this involve?

8. What is an entitlement program? What are two examples of entitlement programs?

What percentage of the federal budget consists of entitlements? (see p 497)

9. What problems face Social Security? What are six ways to solve this problem?
10. What problems face Medicare? What are some solutions to Medicare’s problems?
11. What were some issues involved in President Obama’s health care reform?


12. What is the AFDC program? Explain what happened to cause this program to lose political legitimacy and support.

13. What two things make majoritarian politics work?

14. Describe the main points on each side of the political debate in adopting the following

majoritarian programs:

a. Social Security

b. Medicare

c. Education - Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) (see box on p 519)

15. What makes client politics work? How does Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) fit this model? Why doesn’t AFDC work in today’s politics?

16. What is the service strategy of public welfare? How does it compare with the income strategy?

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