Unlike the presidency, Congress is difficult to conceptualize. The rough-and-tumble world of legislating is not orderly and civil, human frailties too often taint its membership, and legislative outcomes are often frustrating and ineffective Still, we are not exaggerating when we say that Congress is essential to American democracy.
We would not have survived as a nation without a Congress that represented the diverse interests of our society, conducted a public debate on the major issues, found compromises to resolve conflicts peacefully, and limited the power of our executive, military, and judicial institutions The popularity of Congress ebbs and flows with the public's confidence in government generally Also, members of Congress often appear self-serving as they pursue their political careers and represent interests and reflect values that are controversial.
Scandals, even when they involve a single member, add to the public's frustration with Congress and have contributed to the institution's low ratings in opinion polls. An additional factor that confounds public perceptions of Congress is that congressional issues are becoming more technical and complex and require expertise in subjects such as science, engineering and economics. When the Constitution was ratified in , the ratio of the populations of large states to small states was roughly twelve to one.
The Connecticut Compromise gave every state, large and small, an equal vote in the Senate. But since , the population disparity between large and small states has grown; in , for example, California had seventy times the population of Wyoming. A major role for members of Congress is providing services to constituents. One way to categorize lawmakers, according to political scientist Richard Fenno , is by their general motivation:. Members of Congress enjoy parliamentary privilege , including freedom from arrest in all cases except for treason , felony , and breach of the peace , and freedom of speech in debate.
This constitutionally derived immunity applies to members during sessions and when traveling to and from sessions. The rules of the House strictly guard this privilege; a member may not waive the privilege on their own, but must seek the permission of the whole house to do so.
Senate rules, however, are less strict and permit individual senators to waive the privilege as they choose. The Constitution guarantees absolute freedom of debate in both houses, providing in the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution that "for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place". Accordingly, a member of Congress may not be sued in court for slander because of remarks made in either house, although each house has its own rules restricting offensive speeches, and may punish members who transgress.
Obstructing the work of Congress is a crime under federal law and is known as contempt of Congress.
Each member has the power to cite individuals for contempt but can only issue a contempt citation—the judicial system pursues the matter like a normal criminal case. If convicted in court, an individual found guilty of contempt of Congress may be imprisoned for up to one year.
What Calling Congress Achieves | The New Yorker
The franking privilege allows members of Congress to send official mail to constituents at government expense. Though they are not permitted to send election materials, borderline material is often sent, especially in the run-up to an election by those in close races. The petition, "Remove health-care subsidies for Members of Congress and their families", garnered over 1,, signatures on the website Change.
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Like other federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and participants' contributions. And like federal employees, members contribute one-third of the cost of health insurance with the government covering the other two-thirds. The size of a congressional pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest three years of their salary.
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Members of Congress make fact-finding missions to learn about other countries and stay informed, but these outings can cause controversy if the trip is deemed excessive or unconnected with the task of governing. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This is the latest accepted revision , reviewed on 7 November Legislature of the United States. For the current Congress, see th United States Congress.
For the building, see United States Capitol. President of the Senate. Mike Pence R since January 20, Speaker of the House.
Nancy Pelosi D since January 3, President pro tempore of the Senate. Chuck Grassley R since January 3, Federal Government. Constitution of the United States Law Taxation. Presidential elections Midterm elections Off-year elections. Political parties. Democratic Republican Third parties Libertarian Green. Other countries Atlas. Play media.
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Main article: History of the United States Congress. Main article: Powers of the United States Congress. Main article: Territories of the United States. Main article: U. Congress in relation to the president and Supreme Court.nomigtameabo.tk
Congressional Information on the Library of Congress Web Site
Main article: Structure of the United States Congress. Main article: United States congressional committee. Main article: Library of Congress. Main article: Congressional Research Service. Main article: Congressional Budget Office. Main article: Lobbying in the United States. Main article: United States Capitol Police.
Main article: Procedures of the United States Congress.
How Do Congressional Representatives Vote, Anyway?
Main article: Joint session of the United States Congress. Congress and citizens. See also: Salaries of members of the United States Congress. Sullivan July 24, House of Representatives. Retrieved November 27, Hamilton How Congress works and why you should care. Indiana University Press. Retrieved September 11, Smith; Jason M. Roberts; Ryan J. Vander Wielen Cambridge University Press. Rakove; Alan Taylor, eds. Houghton Mifflin Company. August 31, The Washington Post. Retrieved September 20, Retrieved January 6, Kramnick, Isaac ed. Common Sense.
Penguin Classics. Retrieved October 10, October 10, The Library of Congress — American memory. The Charters of Freedom. March 9, Kyvig Julian E. Zelizer ed. Rivkin Jr. Casey August 22, Constitution Online. They are fewer even when joined by the two, three, or half dozen anti-federalists. Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies 5th ed. New York: Wolters Kluwer. Madison ". Duke Law Journal. Retrieved September 28, November 17, Retrieved October 5, November 14, November 16, November 21, March 20, November 11, Lay a Forked Road".
May 21, November 15, Archived from the original on November 1, Retrieved September 17, Schulman November 18, Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 30, Retrieved October 2, The New York Times. Birnbaum October 3, Retrieved October 1, Cohen August 12, USA Today. Berke February 14, Delegates to the U. Congress: history and current status , Congressional Research Service; U. Retrieved October 10, , " Retrieved October 18, , " Down-to-the-wire budget and debt crises, indiscriminate spending cuts and a day government shutdown Voice of America.