11.1 Nature and Function of Congress
The Senate is composed of two senators from each state who are granted exclusive powers to confirm appointments and place holds on laws.
The House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two houses of the United States Congress.
The House and Senate: Differences in Representation
The US Congress is composed of the House and the Senate which differ in representation, term length, power, and prestige.
The Legislative Function
The House and Senate are equal partners in the legislative process; legislation cannot be enacted without the consent of both chambers.
The Representation Function
A compromise plan was adopted where representatives were chosen by the population and two senators were chosen by state governments.
Service to Constituents
A major role for members of Congress is providing services to constituents.
The Oversight Function
The United States Congress has oversight of the Executive Branch and other U.S. federal agencies.
The Public-Education Function
The Library of Congress provides public information and educates the public about legislation among other general information.
The Conflict-Resolution Function
Both the Senate and the House have a conflict-resolution procedure before a bill is passed as a piece of legislation.
11.2 Organization of Congress
Party Leadership in the House
Party leaders and whips of the U.S. House of Representatives are elected by their respective parties in a closed-door caucus.
Party Leadership in the Senate
The party leadership of the Senate refers to the officials elected by the Senate Democratic Caucus and the Senate Republican Conference.
Bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers.
An agenda is a list of meeting activities in the order in which they are to be taken up in the legislature.
The Committee System
A congressional committee is a legislative sub-organization in Congress that handles a specific duty.
The Staff System
Congressional staff are employees of the United States Congress or individual members of Congress.
A caucus is a meeting of supporters or members of a political party or movement.
The quantity and boundaries of the 435 districts are determined after each census gauges the population shifts in each state.
11.3 The Legislative Function
How a Bill Becomes Law
A bill is introduced by a member of the legislature, read through, debated, and then passed to become a law.
Deliberation is a process of thoughtfully weighing options, usually prior to voting, emphasizing the use of logic and reason.
Debate is contention in argument and a method of interactive representational argument, and often occurs in Congress.
A conference committee is a committee of Congress appointed by the House and Senate to resolve disagreements on a particular bill.
The Ineligibility Clause prevents the President from being a member of Congress and cannot directly introduce legislative proposals.
11.4 The Budgeting Function
The Budgeting Process
Each year, the President of the United States submits his budget request to Congress.
Preparing the Budget
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) performs key tasks in preparing the presidential budget request that is submitted to Congress.
The Election-Year Budget
Budget proposals during election years are usually politicized to gain votes and increase constituency support.
The budget resolution serves as a blueprint for the actual appropriations process and provides Congress with some control over the process.
Authorization and Appropriation
Authorizations and appropriations functions are separate in principle, but this separation is often imperfect in reality.
11.5 The Oversight Function
Congressional oversight is the review, monitoring, and supervision of federal agencies, programs, activities, and policy implementation.
Oversight of various federal agencies is one of Congress' enumerated powers.
Advice and Consent
Advice and consent is a power of the Senate to be consulted on and approve treaties signed by the president.
Impeachment is an expressed power that allows for formal charges against a civil officer of government for crimes committed in office.
Senate confirmation is required for certain presidential appointments stated under the Constitution.
11.6 Congressional Elections
Eligibility of Congressmen
Sections 2 and 3 of Article 1 of the Constitution describe the qualifications for membership in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The Power of Incumbency
The incumbent is the existing holder of a political office who normally has a structural advantage over challengers during an election.
Congressional Terms and Term Limits
Members of the Senate may serve unlimited six-year terms and members of the House may serve unlimited two-year terms.
Candidates for Congressional Elections
Congressional elections determine the structure and makeup of the House of Representatives and Senate.
11.7 How Congressmen Decide
Political parties serve to coordinate, assist and provide resources for members of congress and political candidates.
Each member of Congress has a responsibility to their constituents because they decide if a congressional member will be re-elected.
Interest Groups, Lobbyists, and PACs
Interest groups attempt to influence Members of Congress in a variety of ways, such as lobbying and financing campaigns using PACs.
Crossing Over of Parties
Though uncommon, a member of Congress switch parties for either ideological or pragmatic reasons.