AP Gov. A Congressional Committees
When Congress first began operating in 1789, the House operated under the Committee of the Whole, in which all members were able to debate without restriction. Critics claimed that this committee was too large to be able to work out the many details of legislation efficiently. Later, when standing committees were created, there were critics who claimed that the committees had become too powerful, and they demanded that they be more democratic in nature. However, when the changes were made, new critics insisted that the committees be more effective at producing legislation. In the Tax Reform of 1986, there were several transition rules established: The Miami Beach convention center was allowed to avoid the general rule that prohibited the use of tax-exempt bonds in financing convention centers, sports stadiums, and parking garages. There were exceptions made for financing stadiums in Cleveland, Memphis, and New Jersey's Meadowlands. A New York hospital and university was not required to create waste-treatment plants or complete certain construction projects. Merrill Lynch & Company received tax advantages for its new headquarters in Manhattan. In Illinois, the Talman Home Federal Savings and Loan Association was able to change ownership without having to comply with tax rules on operating losses. Committee Autonomy: In a decentralized Congress, the committees have complete control over legislation that is in their area of expertise. Examples: Committees are able to block unfavorable bills from receiving floor consideration. Committee members are able to insert special provisions into their bills that will benefit their constituencies.
Constituency Representation: The legislators on committees represent the interests of certain groups of people in relation to policies under their committee's jurisdiction. Examples: Legislators that represent farm areas are overwhelmingly on committees dealing with agriculture. “Transition rules” in tax bills are often directed toward the districts of committee members. House Committees: Top committees are the appropriations, budget, rules, and Ways and Means committees. There are 138 subcommittees, with each majority party member assigned to 2 committees and 4 subcommittees. 50% of members are