AP US Government
CHAPTER 11 CONGRESS – GUIDED READING
The typical member of Congress is a man, white, middle-aged, protestant, previously a law-related person, and from the upper-middle class.
Obviously, as neither the constituents or congresspeople share the same characteristics, congresspeople cannot claim descriptive representation, but rather, substantive representation of the interests of a group of which the congressperson suppoter is not a member of.
Advantages of incumbency
Because of their position, incumbents can advertise and contact their constituency at any time, relate, and make themselves known more easily.
Taking credit on things they did not do, but were involved in (credit claiming).
Through position-taking constituents learn about the character of the incumbent and are advertised.
Most opponents who run against an incumbent tend to be weak and aren't a risk,
Incumbents have more money put towards their campaign thanks to PACs than their opponents.
Casework is when an incumbent Congress member helps an individual constituent in some way. A pork barrel is the lists of funds and projects available to the cities and businesses in the incumbent's district.
How can incumbents be defeated?
One way an incumbent maybe defeated is if the lines of a state's districts get redrawn and force two incumbents to run against each other, only one may win causing one incumbent to be defeated.
Every so often people decide to cast out all the incumbents for no reason other than they feel like there needs to be a change in Congress, this is a rare occurrence but it does occur.
Sometimes an incumbent may defeat themselves by getting involved in corruption and scandal, once the public finds out they tend to cast out that incumbent
When incumbents leave their seats, the likelihood of having competition arises. When neither party is likely to win the place, each side offers a strong candidate. This is the activity from which the most Congress turnout results.
The main functions are: scheduling a bill on the calendar, allotting time for debate, (sometimes) specifying what kind of amendments may be offered.
Filibuster: A strategy unique to the senate whereby opponents of a piece of legislation use their right to unlimited debate to prevent the Senate from ever voting on a bill.
Cloture: When 60 members+ vote to halt the filibuster on the voting for a bill.
Four formal powers the Speaker of the House:
Presiding over the House when in session
Playing a key role in making committee assignments
Appointing the party's leadership
Control which bills go to which committee
The House’s leadership is split between the Speaker of the House, the Majority and minority leaders, and their respective whips. The Speaker of the House presides over the House, has formal powers (listed in number 9) and has informal powers like being a spokesperson for the opposite party that is in power. The Majority leader is responsible for scheduling bills, influencing committee assignments, and rounding up votes on behalf of the party’s legislative positions. The Minority leader is much marginalized but still operates much like its counterpart in the majority party.
Standing, Joint, Conference, Select
Legislative oversight is when Congress, through hearings, monitors the executive branch, along with its actions and policies. It usually checks for corruption.
The seniority system in Congress is when the people who have served on a committee the longest and have their party in charge automatically become the head of their committees. This became a problem because it does not take into account whether they are experienced or able to run that specific committee and often times people from the safe districts became committee heads and nobody could challenge that.
Personal staff deals directly with the Congress person