UB PSC 101 - Congress3 (44 pages)

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Congress3



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Congress3

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Pages:
44
School:
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
Course:
Psc 101 - Intro American Politics
Intro American Politics Documents
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Congress September 24 2014 Article I of the Constitution The legislative branch Congress received by far the most attention in the Constitution Broad set of enumerated powers Bicameral two houses or chambers Senate was believed to be more aristocratic and insulated from popular pressures would look to the long term interests of the nation The people s house House of Reps controlled the purse strings Constitutional Requirements Minimum age to serve in the House 25 Senate 30 Length of U S Citizenship in the House 7 years Senate 9 Length of a House term 2 years Senate 6 staggered by class Electoral System Single member districts in the US a single person is elected to a given office Plurality rule first past the post whoever receives the most votes wins in most cases Contrasted with PR proportional representation systems such as the UK Conspires to limit the number of effective parties Duverger s Law Primary elections often drive congressional candidates to the extremes ideologically Congressional Elections Once thought to be strictly party line affairs legislators now work hard to cultivate a personal vote In the 19th century congressional elections were responsive to top of the ticket presidential contests Manufactured responsiveness Party ballots Efficient gerrymanders Gerrymandering After every census Congress is reapportioned to adjust for population changes By convention every decade although there is no formal institution preventing betweencensus redistricting Texas example Pre Reynolds v Sims 1964 malapportionment population differences was common Equal population today but the process is still not without controversy Creation of majority minority districts through redistricting Rules for Redistricting Can t dilute minority voting power Contiguous Compact Keeps Communities of Interest together Same population Political gerrymandering is not justiciable Is Gerrymandering All Bad Brief experiment with the purposive creation of majority minority experiments provided an opportunity to examine questions concerning representation Consensus that minorities in Congress represent minority communities more effectively Same finding with regard to women of all parties The Incumbency Advantage Having served in Congress before affords enormous advantages on the campaign trail Why is that Congress is a re election machine affords members all the resources necessary to gain re election Example franking privilege Case work Pork barrel legislation Congress Continued September 26th 2014 Mid Term 1 Class average C including several who elected not to take the exam Just about a perfect normal distribution No curve yet Counted several answers as correct for a number of questions Remember you can drop your lowest exam score Let s go over it If you have more questions come see me Grading Scale A 92 100 A 90 91 B 88 89 B 82 87 B 80 81 C 78 79 C 72 77 C 70 71 D 68 69 D 60 67 F 59 and below When America Had 437 Congressional Districts With the admission of Hawaii and Alaska to the union after the House was fixed at 435 districts two new seats were temporarily established until the House could be reapportioned Pork Barrel Politics Certainly has a bad name Citizen interest groups complain about it Citizens Against Government Waste produces a yearly Pig Book Counts lots of different kinds of spending as pork money simply has to be earmarked for a particular state or district Some items might actually be in the interest of the greater good Greases the wheels Nevertheless Congress has passed a moratorium on earmarks Presidential Pork Congress effectively delegated the distribution of federal money to the president Still going to particular districts as dictated by political concerns For instance stimulus money has gone to districts that supported the president and states that play into electoral college strategies The Electoral Connection Much of what members do in Congress can be attributed to the re election imperative Mayhew s 1974 theory Assumes that members of Congress have multiple goals policy good governance etc but that one is of primary concern the need to be re elected Members do three things advertising positiontaking and credit claiming Parties play little or no role in this theory The Fenno Paradox Why do we hate Congress so much if we love our member of Congress Running for Congress by running against Congress Evaluations of Congress have been shown to hurt majority party candidates at the polls Congress Concluded September 29th 2014 Representational Style Redux Trustees and Delegates Chief determinant of trust the difficulty of the issue Subconstituencies Geographic constituency Re election constituency Primary constituency Personal constituency Polarization Simply not the case that parties are unimportant today Parties in Congress are ideologically homogeneous Quite a bit of separation between the parties as well Stems from the re alignment of the parties that Other Influences on Member Behavior in Congress Constituency matters even one vote out of step can be disastrous electorally Interest groups have both direct and indirect effects on legislator behavior Interest groups subsidize information costs Two way street can also inform voters of member actions on certain bills Legislators think about traceability More likely to vote for something that goes against what their constituents want if costs are diffuse Party Influence in Congress Contrary to Mayhew s 1974 early work on Congress parties play a major role in shaping legislation today It is the odd vote that does not have near complete separation between the parties Numerous possible explanations some which involve constituency factors Debate over preferences vs parties Desirable committee assignments are handed out at the discretion of party leadership Party leadership controls what comes up for a Setting the Agenda In the House which has much more restrictive rules than the Senate party leadership controls what bills make it to the floor Specific Rules Committee on the House side Have an idea of how unified their party is on certain issues Hastert rule thou shall not roll thy own party Still doesn t explain polarization in the Senate must be a team effect as well The Development of Congressional Parties First few Congresses did not have feature political parties Chief debate surrounded the role of the government but no formal party organization Coordination problems galore Nothing got done without a series of bargains and back room


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