How Congress Works and Why We Should Care?

Topics: United States Congress, Separation of powers, United States House of Representatives Pages: 5 (1910 words) Published: April 25, 2007
How Congress Works and Why Should you Care

Many Americans in today's society will find it difficult to answer the question of what Congress exactly does and why it exists. Others simply don't care and see Congress as a failed system where nothing gets done. Lee Hamilton, in his book Why Congress Works and Why you Should Care, proves these people wrong and gives an insider's look at what Congress actually does do and how it affects every American each day.

Congress has come a long way since its creation but its role has not changed. Although there is much criticism on the way Congress is run, the system is an integral part of the American government. It's main and most important duty is to portray the wide arrayed views of the American people and this is not as easy as it seems. It can be a difficult process for Congress to come to an agreement on these issues because its members come from all over America with different views on what is right and what is wrong. The majority of American people feel that the public agrees on most issues but this is untrue. America is an extremely diverse nation with differing views on various issues. With all the different people in the country it is not unusual to get different opinions and beliefs.

The legislative branch of government is a complex system that is separated into two branches, the House of Representatives and the Senate. Both which have different tasks. The favored branch of the public is the House of Representatives because the people feel that they can relate more with their congressmen then their senators. This is another important aspect of the role that congressmen have, representing their constituents. Congressmen are elected to be the voice of their constituency and people rely on them to get their issues heard and resolved. In the book, Lee Hamilton speaks of a gentleman named Wilbur Mills, who is a powerful legislator from Arkansas. As they were walking in D.C he spoke of how he was going to some small town in Arkansas to hold a public meeting with about twenty people. He told Hamilton, "Lee, don't ever forget your constituents. Nothing, nothing comes before them." (p.53) It is very important for congressmen to keep in touch with their constituents, not only are they the people that are keeping them in office but also they are the people that are counting on him/her to voice their thoughts and concerns. Many people feel that their congressmen don't care what they think and a whopping three-fifths of the public don't expect their congressmen to be responsive. (p.53) It is important for members to travel back and forth to their districts and be involved in their communities. This is the only way that people will see that members of Congress do care.

Another important feature that is equally weighed with representation is the legislative side of Congress. One of Congress's main responsibilities is to draft and pass legislation. Everyday Americans disregard the things around them that have been built, created, or changed through bills passed in Congress. These things include laws, roads, jobs, taxation, healthcare etc. The list is never ending. Without Congress we would not have a social security program, the nice roads which we ride on or the grants and federal aid that the government provides for students. Congress has the power to do all these things, most of which are overlooked by the American people. Drafting and creating new bills is a difficult task for Congress. These bills have to be a summation of all the American people and thought through very carefully. The process is very unpredictable and cannot be done neatly and hastily. There are loopholes everywhere and then there is also the veto of the executive and judiciary branch. Many people complain that Congress works very slowly and that nothing gets done. These people have to realize that it is not one person deciding on the laws of the nation; it is a grouping of assorted individuals who want...
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