Response Paper 5
1. Assess how and to what extent the members of Congress represent their constituents (344-346) Congress as a whole has many roles and jobs that run our country. They are involved with law-making (passing bills and making them become laws.), educating and representing the public, and helping and representing their constituents. Congress represents the people of the United States. The members of Congress serve their Constituents. The constituents are the people who live in that specific district from which each member is elected from. Members must respect the opinion and please their constituents if they want to still be in office, because the constituents are who basically elect these members. Every issue and opinion must be taken into consideration. There are three theories of representation. There is the trustee representation, the sociological representation, and the agency representation. A trustee representative is one who is chosen by the people because his judgment and experience is trusted. The constituents trust their representative’s judgment. A sociological representative is chosen by the people because his ethnic, racial, social, educational, religious background is relatable to that of the people. The representative will behave and have similar beliefs as to that of the constituents. The agency representative is chosen by the people because they believe he will carry out all their wishes in Congress. If that representative does not do what the constituents want, they are allowed to fire him and elect a new representative. As you can see, there is a high extent as to how far the members of Congress represent their constituents. The constituents play a huge role. 2. Describe what leaders, political parties, and committees do in Congress (357-364) In Congress, there are several different people that uphold various responsibilities, in which all play a very large role. To start with, there are two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives is the part of government that is known as the “people’s house” or the one that takes the opinions of the people into most consideration. Each state is represented in the House by having at least one member, depending on the population of that state. They reelect every two years to keep up with the new opinions and responses from the people. The Senate is more conservative and is based off of statesmen who make decisions based off of what they know and believe. (Mainly through experience.) They do not really pay attention to the people. Each state has two senators. Both houses pass identical versions of a bill. The leader of the House of Representative is the Speaker of the House. That individual sets the schedule for certain debates. The leaders of the House have a lot of power. They can punish or reward the members, based on how well they behave or cooperate with the leaders. The leader of the Senate is typically the vice president of the United States. The do not have as much power when it comes to punishing or rewarding their members. They are much more independent. There are two parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. Each chamber of Congress has a majority party and a minority party. Both the Democrats and the Republicans organize for votes, develop various strategies that fit into their criteria (Democrats being more liberal, Republicans being more conservative), and they elect their own leaders. The main role for the committees is to request written comments from executive agencies, working to perfect a bill, and set hearings to hear from non-committee experts. Once the language is agreed upon, the committee sends the measure back to the full Senate. There are several committees in Congress. There are the standing committees, which are the most common. They handle several issues of permanent legislative concern. The conference committees has members from both the House and the Senate. Both houses must approve the bill in order for it to be passed. Therefore, if there are different versions, a conference committee is created to come to a compromise between the two bills. They come up with a single bill that is voted on by both houses. There are select committees which are only created for a specific issue or purpose at that particular time. Finally, there are joint committees which also deal with specific issues going on at that specific time and it also consists of members from both houses.
3. Outline the process by which a bill becomes a law (370-374)
There are several steps that need to be taken in order for a bill to become a law. First, a member of Congress has to introduce a bill, either a senator or a representative. It is sent to the clerk of the Senate or House. That individual gives it a specific number and title. Then, that bill is sent off to the appropriate committee.
That committee, whichever is may be, reviews the bill and votes on it. Like mentioned before, a committee is made up of small groups of senators and representatives. They can either reject the bill, meaning it may never be brought up to discussion again, or it can continue to be reviewed in hearings, where it may be changed and compromised, based on people’s opinions. If the vote to pass it is higher than the vote to reject it, it gets sent back to the Senate and the House for another debate. Next, the Senate and the House debate and make a final vote on that bill. If it is rejected in either house, it is never brought up again. If the majority of both houses votes for the bill, it goes to the president to be approved. The President then either makes the decision of either signing the bill or not signing it. If he signs it, the bill becomes law, and if he vetoes it, it dies. However, if it is vetoed by the President, Congress can still try to overrule a veto. If both the Senate and the House pass the bill by a two-thirds majority, the President's veto is ignored and the bill then becomes a law.