Congress Elections and Representation Member Goals Reelection Career Advancement Public Policy Factors that Influence Members Policy Ideology Party Health Care? Health Care Bill Final Passage Vote -> 220-215 Democrats -> 219-39 Republicans -> 176-1 Costs 900 billion over 10 years GOP alternative- 68 billion over 10 years 30 million uninsured Democratic-held Districts w/ the Highest Uninsured Rates Sources: National Journal, October 24, 2009; Washington Post, November 8, 2009 Member District % Uninsured Vote on Bill Gene Green TX-29 40.6 Yes Xavier Becerra CA-31 39.6 Yes Eddie Bernice Johnson TX-30 35.9 Yes Lucille Roybal-Allard CA-34 35.4 Yes Al Green TX-9 35.2 Yes Ed Pastor AZ-4 33.2 Yes Sheila Jackson Lee TX-18 33.1 Yes Ruben Hinojosa TX-15 32.6 Yes Henry Cueller TX-28 32.6 Yes Kendrick Meek FL-17 32.3 Yes Republican-held Districts w/ the Highest Uninsured Rates Sources: National Journal, October 24, 2009; Washington Post, November 8, 2009 Member District % Uninsured Vote on Bill Pete Sessions TX-32 32.6 No Mario Diaz-Balart FL-25 28.4 No Illeana Ros-Lehtinen FL-18 27.6 No Lincoln Diaz-Balart FL-21 27.0 No Kay Granger TX-12 23.7 No Mike Conaway TX-11 23.3 No Jeb Hensarling TX-5 23.0 No Sam Johnson TX-3 22.8 No Louie Gohmert TX-1 22.1 No Devin Nunes CA-21 21.7 No Democrats w/ High Uninsured Rate Who Voted No Dan Boren (OK-2) Blue Dog Democrat Received under $300,000 in campaign contributions from health industry The Dilemma of Representation Members of Congress live in two worlds Washington: dealing with great issues of national concern Back in the district or state: meeting with constituents, giving speeches to local groups Legislators work hard to keep in touch with constituents Not Exactly a Vote of Confidence The Dilemma of Representation Trustees or Delegates? Trustee: a representative who is obligated to consider the views of constituents but is not obligated to vote according to those views if he or she believes they are misguided Delegate: a legislator whose primary responsibility is to represent the majority view of his or her constituents, regardless of his or her own view The Origin and Powers of Congress Duties of the House and Senate The House of Representatives Originates revenue bills Has power of impeachment: the formal charging of a government official with ?treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors? The Senate Votes to convict impeached President or other officials Must approve major presidential appointments Sole power to affirm treaties Electing Congress The Incumbency Effect Incumbent: a current officeholder Incumbents have a very high reelection rate Yet the public does not hold Congress in very high esteem Voters seem only to be satisfied with their own representatives Electing Congress The Incumbency Effect Redistricting Gerrymandering: redrawing a congressional district to intentionally benefit one party May be done to benefit incumbents Contributes to the increasing pattern of polarization between the two parties in the House Electing Congress The Incumbency Effect Name Recognition Recognition increases by being member of Congress Advertising Position taking Credit Claiming Franking privilege: The right to send mail free of charge Electing Congress The Incumbency Effect Casework Casework: solving problems for constituents, especially problems involving government agencies Structure of congressional offices is built around casework Electing Congress The Incumbency Effect Campaign Financing Incumbents have significant advantage in fundraising PACs have strong preference for incumbents DCCC and NRCC DSCC and NRSC Electing Congress The Incumbency Effect Successful Challengers The opposing party and sympathetic PACs may target vulnerable incumbents, thus giving a challenger a better chance to succeed Vulnerable incumbents bring out higher quality challengers Electing Congress The Incumbency Effect 2008 Election Same discontentment that swept Barack Obama into the White House brought many new Democrats into Congress. The newly elected Democrats combined with even larger Democratic gains in the 2006 congressional election provided solid working majorities in both houses. Same issues of concern in congressional elections as in the presidential election: Declining economy worsened by the financial crisis Sharp Decline in the Stock Market The Long War in Iraq Deep dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush?s leadership Electing Congress Whom Do We Elect? Most members of Congress are professionals (generally lawyers and businesspeople) Women and minorities have long been underrepresented, but numbers are increasing Descriptive representation: a belief that constituents are most effectively represented by legislators who are similar to them in such key demographic characteristics as race, ethnicity, religion or gender Voting Rights Act of 1982 provided support for descriptive representation Electing Congress Whom Do We Elect? Racial gerrymandering: the drawing of legislative districts to maximize the chance that a minority candidate will win election Shaw v. Reno (1993) deemed racial gerrymandering unconstitutional Supreme Court modified this position in 2001, saying race could be a consideration in drawing congressional districts The Legislative Environment Political parties Have limited, but important, resources to influence members of Congress Party leaders can help or hinder rank-and-file members in many ways Partisanship is rising The Legislative Environment The President Presidents capitalize on nationwide popular election Public expects president to be legislator-in-chief Hundreds of legislative liaison personnel work for executive branch The Legislative Enviornment Constituents Constituents: people who live and vote in a government official?s district Members have to think about what the voters at home want The Legislative Environment Interest groups A way for constituents to influence Congress Sources of useful information Recent scandals raise concerns about conflicts of interest Interest groups expect significant donations to give them greater access to legislators Congressional Caucuses A group of members of the U.S. Congress that meets to pursue common legislative objectives. Examples: House Republican Caucus House Democratic Caucus Blue Dog Coalition Congressional Black Caucus Earmarks Earmarks: federal funds appropriated by Congress for use on local projects. Earmarks get into the budget as a result of bargaining between members. Similar to logrolling Fun Facts Heard on the Hill Yearly 5K Race Sen. Tom Coburn?s amendment
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