The American Congress
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The American Congress provides the most current treatment of congressional politics available in an undergraduate text. Informed by the authors' Capitol Hill experience and scholarship, this book presents a crisp introduction to major features of Congress: parties and committee systems, leadership, voting, and floor activity. This text contains discussions of the importance of presidents, courts, and interest groups in congressional policy making. Recent developments are also discussed within the context of congressional political history. The seventh edition includes complete coverage of the first Congress of the Obama presidency, the 2010 midterm elections, healthcare reform, and an early perspective on the 112th Congress with a Republican majority.
temptation for a new majority to overreach once in office. According to Fenno, because the Democrats had dominated the House for 40 years, when the Republicans took over in 1994, they were both inexperienced and impatient. The Republicans overstated their mandate from the 1994 elections, translated that inflated mandate into rigid and ultimately unsuccessful legislative strategies, and perhaps contributed to the reelection of Democrat Bill Clinton to the presidency in 1996. 8 Richard F. Fenno,
particularly liberals, proved unwilling to serve apprenticeships and to defer to conservative committee chairs. Many members began to demand major reforms in congressional operations. REPRESENTATION AND LAWMAKING IN CONGRESS 53 A five-year effort yielded the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970. It required committees to make public all recorded votes, limited proxy votes, allowed a majority of members to call meetings, and encouraged committees to hold open hearings and meetings. House
maintain several subcommittees on their Policy Committee that serve purposes similar to Democratic caucus task forces. Appointment or election as a whip, policy subcommittee, or task force member gives a member some prestige, an additional office to add to his or her letterhead, and access to informative weekly whip meetings. For some members, service in these party posts provides an opportunity to prove their leadership abilities to their colleagues, which can be important to a member who
a practice that dates back to the 1930s. Like House Speakers, Senate majority leaders vary in their assertiveness. Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas), who served as Democratic leader from 1955 to 1960, set the modern standard for aggressive leadership. Recent majority leaders of both parties have played a more important role in enacting major legislation – negotiating the content of many important bills, pushing committees to bring legislation to the floor, and taking a leading role in managing
parties – to regulate the behavior of committee members through formal and informal rules. For the most part, committees must function procedurally and substantively in ways that are consistent with the expectations of their parent chambers and parties. The Legislative Power of Committees Evaluating the power of committees is difficult. It is very difficult to determine the influence of a committee on any given measure without knowing what the outcome would have been in the absence of committee