Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Congress includes joint committees

The Congress includes joint committees, which include members from both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Some joint committees oversee independent government bodies; for instance, the Joint Committee on the Library oversees the Library of Congress. Other joint committees serve to make advisory reports; Sony PCG-71312M Battery for example, there exists a Joint Committee on Taxation. Bills and nominees are not referred to joint committees. Hence, the power of joint committees is considerably lower than those of standing committees. Each Senate committee and subcommittee is led by a chair (usually a member of the majority party). Sony PCG-71212M Battery Formerly, committee chairs were determined purely by seniority; as a result, several elderly senators continued to serve as chair despite severe physical infirmity or even senility.[46] Committee chairs are elected, but, in practice, seniority is rarely bypassed. The chairs hold extensive powers: Sony PCG-71811M Battery they control the committee's agenda, and so decide how much, if any, time to devote to the consideration of a bill; they act with the power of the committee in disapproving or delaying a bill or a nomination by the president; they manage on the floor of the full Senate the consideration of those bills the committee reports. Sony PCG-71911M Battery This last role was particularly important in mid-century, when floor amendments were thought not to be collegial. They also have considerable influence: senators who cooperate with their committee chairs are likely to accomplish more good for their states than those who do not. Sony PCG-91211M Battery The Senate rules and customs were reformed in the twentieth century, largely in the 1970s. Committee chairmen have less power and are generally more moderate and collegial in exercising it, than they were before reform.[47] The second-highest member, the spokesperson on the committee for the minority party, is known in most cases as the ranking member.[48] Sony PCG-91111M Battery In the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Select Committee on Ethics, however, the senior minority member is known as the vice chair. Recent criticisms of the Senate's operations object to what the critics argue is obsolescence as a result of partisan paralysis and a preponderance of arcane rules. Sony VAIO PCG-5J4M Battery Bills may be introduced in either chamber of Congress. However, Article One of the U.S. Constitution provides that "All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives".[52] As a result, the Senate does not have the power to initiate bills imposing taxes. Sony VAIO PCG-5K1M Battery Furthermore, the House of Representatives holds that the Senate does not have the power to originate appropriation bills, or bills authorizing the expenditure of federal funds.[Historically, the Senate has disputed the interpretation advocated by the House. However, when the Senate originates an appropriations bill, Sony VAIO PCG-5K2M Battery the House simply refuses to consider it, thereby settling the dispute in practice.[citation needed] The constitutional provision barring the Senate from introducing revenue bills is based on the practice of the British Parliament, in which only the House of Commons may originate such measures. Sony VAIO PCG-5J5M Battery Although the Constitution gave the House the power to initiate revenue bills, in practice the Senate is equal to the House in the respects of taxation and spending. As Woodrow Wilson wrote: The Senate's right to amend general appropriation bills has been allowed the widest possible scope. Sony VAIO PCG-5L2M Battery The upper house may add to them what it pleases; may go altogether outside of their original provisions and tack to them entirely new features of legislation, altering not only the amounts but even the objects of expenditure, and making out of the materials sent them by the popular chamber measures of an almost totally new character. Sony VAIO PCG-6S4M Battery The approval of both houses is required for any bill, including a revenue bill, to become law. Both Houses must pass the same version of the bill; if there are differences, they may be resolved by sending amendments back and forth or by a conference committee, which includes members of both bodies. Sony VAIO PCG-6W1M Battery The Constitution provides several unique functions for the Senate that form its ability to "check and balance" the powers of other elements of the Federal Government. These include the requirement that the Senate may advise and must consent to some of the president's government appointments; Sony VAIO PCG-6W2M Battery also the Senate must consent to all treaties with foreign governments; it tries all impeachments, and it elects the vice president in the event no person gets a majority of the electoral votes. The president can make certain appointments only with the advice and consent of the Senate. Sony VAIO PCG-7Z1M Battery Officials whose appointments require the Senate's approval include members of the Cabinet, heads of most federal executive agencies, ambassadors, Justices of the Supreme Court, and other federal judges. Under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, a large number of government appointments are subject to potential confirmation; Sony VAIO PCG-8Y2M Battery however, Congress has passed legislation to authorize the appointment of many officials without the Senate's consent (usually, confirmation requirements are reserved for those officials with the most significant final decision-making authority). Typically, a nominee is first subject to a hearing before a Senate committee. Sony VAIO PCG-8Y3M Battery Thereafter, the nomination is considered by the full Senate. The majority of nominees are confirmed, but in a small number of cases each year, Senate Committees will purposely fail to act on a nomination to block it. In addition, the president sometimes withdraws nominations when they appear unlikely to be confirmed. Sony VAIO PCG-8Z1M Battery Because of this, outright rejections of nominees on the Senate floor are infrequent (there have been only nine Cabinet nominees rejected outright in the history of the United States). The powers of the Senate concerning nominations are, however, subject to some constraints. Sony VAIO PCG-8Z2M Battery For instance, the Constitution provides that the president may make an appointment during a congressional recess without the Senate's advice and consent. The recess appointment remains valid only temporarily; the office becomes vacant again at the end of the next congressional session. Sony VAIO PCG-8Z3M Battery Nevertheless, presidents have frequently used recess appointments to circumvent the possibility that the Senate may reject the nominee. Furthermore, as the Supreme Court held in Myers v. United States, although the Senate's advice and consent is required for the appointment of certain executive branch officials, it is not necessary for their removal. Sony VAIO PCG-7112M Battery The Senate also has a role in ratifying treaties. The Constitution provides that the president may only "make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur." However, not all international agreements are considered treaties under US domestic law, even if they are considered treaties under international law. Sony VGP-BPL15/B Battery Congress has passed laws authorizing the president to conclude executive agreements without action by the Senate. Similarly, the president may make congressional-executive agreements with the approval of a simple majority in each House of Congress, rather than a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Sony VGP-BPS15/B Battery Neither executive agreements nor congressional-executive agreements are mentioned in the Constitution, leading some scholars such as Laurence Tribe and John Yoo[55] to suggest that they unconstitutionally circumvent the treaty-ratification process. However, courts have upheld the validity of such agreements.[56] Sony VGP-BPL15/S Battery The Constitution empowers the House of Representatives to impeach federal officials for "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" and empowers the Senate to try such impeachments. If the sitting President of the United States is being tried, the Chief Justice of the United States presides over the trial. Sony VGP-BPS15/S Battery During an impeachment trial, senators are constitutionally required to sit on oath or affirmation. Conviction requires a two-thirds majority of the senators present. A convicted official is automatically removed from office; in addition, the Senate may stipulate that the defendant be banned from holding office. Sony VGP-BPS15 Battery No further punishment is permitted during the impeachment proceedings; however, the party may face criminal penalties in a normal court of law. In the history of the United States, the House of Representatives has impeached sixteen officials, of whom seven were convicted. Sony VGP-BPL15 Battery (One resigned before the Senate could complete the trial.)[57] Only two presidents of the United States have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both trials ended in acquittal; in Johnson's case, the Senate fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority required for conviction. Sony VGN-P series Battery Under the Twelfth Amendment, the Senate has the power to elect the vice president if no vice presidential candidate receives a majority of votes in theElectoral College. The Twelfth Amendment requires the Senate to choose from the two candidates with the highest numbers of electoral votes. Electoral College deadlocks are rare. Sony VGN-P11Z/Q Battery In the history of the United States, the Senate has only broken a deadlock once. In 1837, it elected Richard Mentor Johnson. The House elects the president if the Electoral College deadlocks on that choice. The United States Senate has a history of approximately 220 years as the upper house of the United States Congress, Sony VGN-P11Z/R Battery being described in the United States Constitution in 1787 and first convened in 1789. For the current Senate see United States Senate. The United States Senate, named after the ancient Roman Senate, was designed as a more deliberative body than the House of Representatives. Sony VGN-P11Z/W Battery Edmund Randolph called for its members to be "less than the House of Commons... to restrain, if possible, the fury of democracy." According to James Madison, "The use of the Senate is to consist in proceeding with more coolness, with more system, and with more wisdom, than the popular branch." Sony VGN-P21S/W Battery Instead of two-year terms as in the House, senators serve six-year terms, giving them more authority to ignore mass sentiment in favor of the country's broad interests. The smaller number of members and staggered terms also give the Senate a greater sense of community. Sony VGN-P21Z/G Battery Many of the founding fathers greatly admired the British government. At the Constitutional Convention, Alexander Hamilton called the British government "the best in the world," and said he "doubted whether anything short of it would do in America." In his "Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States," Sony VGN-P21Z/R Battery John Adams said "the English Constitution is, in theory, both for the adjustment of the balance and the prevention of its vibrations, the most stupendous fabric of human invention." In the minds of many of the Founding Fathers, the Senate would be an American kind of House of Lords.[1] Sony VGN-P29VN/Q Battery John Dickinson said the Senate should "consist of the most distinguished characters, distinguished for their rank in life and their weight of property, and bearing as strong a likeness to the British House of Lords as possible."[2] The Senate was also intended to give states with smaller populations equal standing with larger states, which are given more representation in the House. Sony VGP-BPS18 Battery The apportionment scheme of the Senate was controversial at the Constitutional Convention. Hamilton, who was joined in opposition to equal suffrage by Madison, said equal representation despite population differences "shocks too much the ideas of justice and every human feeling."[3] Sony VGP-BPL18 Battery Referring to those who demanded equal representation, Madison called for the Convention "to renounce a principle which was confessedly unjust." The delegates representing a majority of Americans might have carried the day, but at the Constitutional Convention, each state had an equal vote, and any issue could be brought up again if a state desired it. Sony VGP-BPL18 Battery The state delegations originally voted 6–5 for proportional representation, but small states without claims of western lands reopened the issue and eventually turned the tide towards equality. On the final vote, the five states in favor of equal apportionment in the Senate - Connecticut, Sony  VAIO VGN-FZ31M Battery North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, and Delaware - only represented one-third of the nation's population. The four states that voted against it - Virginia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Georgia - represented almost twice as many people than the proponents. Convention delegate James Wilson wrote "Our Constituents, Sony Vaio VGN-FZ19VN Battery had they voted as their representatives did, would have stood as 2/3 against equality, and 1/3 only in favor of it" (Harpers Magazine, May 2004, 36). One reason the large states accepted the Connecticut Compromise was a fear that the small states would either refuse to join the Union, or, as Gunning Bedford, Jr. of Delaware threatened, Sony Vaio VGN-FZ39VN Battery "the small ones w[ould] find some foreign ally of more honor and good faith, who will take them by the hand and do them justice" (New Republic, August 7, 2002). In Federalist No. 62, James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” openly admitted that the equal suffrage in the Senate was a compromise, a “lesser evil,” and not born out of any political theory. “Sony Vaio VGN-FZ39VN Battery [I]t is superfluous to try, by the standard of theory, a part of the Constitution which is allowed on all hands to be the result, not of theory, but ‘of a spirit of amity, and that mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable.’“ Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31ZR Battery Even Gunning Bedford, Jr. of Delaware admitted that he only favored equal representation because it advanced the interests of his own state. "Can it be expected that the small states will act from pure disinterestedness? Are we to act with greater purity than the rest of mankind" (Sizing Up the Senate, 33)? Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31SR Battery Since 1789, the Senate has become much more malaportioned. At the time of the Connecticut Compromise, the largest state, Virginia, had only twelve times the population of the smallest state, Delaware. Today,[when?] the largest state, California, has a population that is seventy times greater than the population of the smallest state, Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31ER Battery Wyoming. In 1790, it would take a theoretical 30% of the population to elect a majority of the Senate, today it would take 17%. Today, there are seven states with only one congressman (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming); never in the past has there been as high a proportion of one-congressmen states. Sony Vaio VGN-NR31E/S Battery The Senate originally met, virtually in secret, on the second floor of Federal Hall in New York City in a room that allowed no spectators. For five years, no notes were published on Senate proceedings. A procedural issue of the early Senate was what role the vice president, the President of the Senate, should have. 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