Congress Essay

Topics: Legislatures, Party leaders of the United States Senate, United States Congress Pages: 2 (895 words) Published: December 10, 2014
DISCUSS THE VIEW THAT COMMITTEES ARE THE REAL POWERHOUSE OF THE CONGRESS It was significant that the recent government shutdown was ultimately resolved by a conference committee with members from both the House and the Senate. This would suggest that congressional committees have a key role to play in the Congress. However, the rise of the Tea Party Caucus would suggest that other factors can be regarded as the key sources of power in the Congress. The importance of congressional committees is clearly demonstrated by an examination of the legislative process. Thousands of bills are proposed each year but the fact of the matter is a mere 5% are successful. This failure rate is largely explained by the work of congressional committees. Committee Chairmen are very powerful. They can “pigeonhole” a bill which effectively means a bill will die or the committee can amend and add other bills to the initial proposal changing the original beyond all recognition. “Earmarks” are added during the committee stage which relate to additional spending clauses being added during this committee stage. The House Rules Committee timetables all bills for debate on the floor of the chamber and consequently has a critical role to play in determining whether a bill will succeed or fail. Similarly the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate determine spending limits on government which means they have a crucial role to play in both the budgetary and legislative process. The ways and Means Committee play a similar role with regard to taxation and consequently have a vital role to play too. Congressional committees have a key role to play in the oversight of the executive and help Congress fulfil its scrutiny function. Standing committees are permanent and not only conduct the committee stage of the legislative process but also investigate policy areas relating to policy area. They conduct hearings and can call witnesses. They are very well resourced and prestigious and thus...
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