Congress Political Science

Political Science

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The ultimate responsibility of a member of the Congress is to vote on a wide variety of bills, motions and amendments. Members of the Congress take voting seriously as the overall average rate of participation is around 95% of all votes held. Among the questions that members are asked to vote to include the gun control, school safety, abortion rights, education assistance, environmental programs, social security reform as well as the Medicare costs. Before the major voting, the members get overwhelmed with the different opinions that are sent months, weeks, days or even hours prior to voting. The offices of the Congress receive mailbags that are full of letters, faxes, emails as well as phone calls from the constituents expressing the wide thoughts of their conflicting opinions. The members receive statements from the expert witnesses testifying before the congressional hearings, special interest groups also contribute by sending up the background material. The congressional agencies provide the members with reports and studies while the colleagues in the Congress also send letters to which contain recommendations and the administration weighs in its position.

How a member does decides to vote

The question arising here is how then after obtaining all these materials and information with the conflicting voices, does a member of the Congress make his or her voting decision? People tend to claim that the members prefer voting according to their political affiliations or the special interest groups while others believe that the members vote according to how they deem it to be fit regardless of all the pressure that is put on to them. The decision on voting involves a complex process to which members interact among themselves and a variety of influences including the president, constituents and the party leaders. Special interest groups, the media along with the political contributors are among the groups to which are consulted in the process of decision making. The decision making process is a solo responsibility and therefore cannot be easily categorized, but there are some factors that are usually present during the process of decision making.

Information gathering is an important aspect of the decision-making process. Members become familiar with the main arguments that are being offered by the various sides that are surrounding the public policy issue. The arguments may get based on the constitutional or the legal analyses, on statistics or on the data compilations, on the moral or ethical basis or on the public policy arguments. During the review of the above materials, the members also get to pay attention to factors such as costs of the taxpayers, overall social benefit and the perceived consequences on the future. The members are privileged to obtain neutral objective research and analysis from the congressional research services, a non-partisan in-house of staff experts. The committee reports, editorials, newspaper articles also provide the members with a sense of the main argument surrounding the issue. The members also may choose to rely on the information to which is provided by the advocacy organizations such as special groups or the trade associations based on the issue at hand. The members are accountable to their constituents and others for each vote and are therefore regularly asked to explain why they voted in the manner they did.

Constituency interests are among the factors that influence the decisions of the members. The members tend to spend most of their time in seeking the accurate idea of how the majority of their constituents feel about the prospected legislative proposals and therefore do not fully rely on the correspondence or the calls that made by their offices for they understand that majority of the constituents won’t make the initiative to contact them. The members are also aware that the constituents along with other interest groups with passionate views on a subject will organize mass mailings or calls to which may not apply to the case reflecting the interests of the constituents. Majority of the members, therefore, engage actively to a broad spectrum of the electorate to listen to their constituent’s views, following closely the public views and opinions as they are keenly aware that they have a responsibility to reflect the viewpoint of a majority of their electorate.

The members of the Congress relies heavily on expert opinions as the congressional issues are so many and often so complex and that their wide range may fall outside the individual member’s expertise thus the need to seek for consultation. Consultation with the experts often helps the members to be informed relying on the expert recommendations and colleagues within the Congress and whose judgments and specialization in particular issues are respected.

Political ramifications tend to also contribute to the decision of the members. The majority and minority leadership in Congress make certain that their members fully understand the party’s positions on particular issues supplying their own research and analysis to their members, therefore, promoting specific arguments and positions. The political influence of the president is also very important. The president has a bully pulpit from which the nation’s agenda is set and appealing directly to the American citizens to support his positions.

After considering all the information provided, both from the constituents and from the experts, the member can now make his personal judgment according to what he deems to be right. The core beliefs of the members may be influenced by religious faith or secular ethics. The issues with moral components do not confine the members to partisan categories. Other factors that may influence personal judgment include ethnic heritage, family or gender.

The process of voting is vital as it seeks to represent even the generations to come and that’s why it calls for proper consultation before the implantation of a certain issue. The members have to seek proper guidance in order to arrive at a better conclusion that is free from bias, greed and represents the interests of the constituents to which they get to represent. Members of the public need to be much involved in the decision making as they are mostly affected by the issues passed in the House of Representatives and therefore their vote should count as the majority.

Public Criticisms of Congress

The public criticism on to the Congress has now for a long time provided to some extent to the public as well as notifying the public of the selfish interest of the Congress. It is always obvious that the issue of criticism arises from the wrong things that are done and to which need to be rectified to seem better. One of the biggest public critics on the Congress is the political cartoons to which depict the various selfish interests of the politicians on different occasions.

For one occasion, the Congress from the different states has not united an event that seemed to attract the public interest. It is always good for the political unity for a nation to develop and when a country is divided, the development agendas are always invited creating a rift to progression. In criticizing the act, the political cartoon drew a viper cut down into pieces and displaying the various body parts with the initial of the different states of America. In this critic, the call for unity among the states’ congressmen was evident saying ‘Unite or die”. This has the implication of what can happen in the case of the discontinued unity among the states meaning that the nation may end up crippling economically or even engage in violence.

The public cartoon has not only criticized the unity of the Congress but also to their greedy and self-nature especially the reaction towards salary increment. The political cartoon drew a deep valley with the members of the Congress salivating, trying to find a way to reach the salary increment on the other side but are restricted by the political dangers. The cartoon shows how the Congress tend to be greedy and selfish in that they are led by their own interests and not that of the public to whom elected them to the congress positions.

The media also is not left behind in criticizing the Congress, during the death of Wilbur Mills, instead of the media announcing his achievement, they went ahead exposing an event to when Mils was caught with a stripper calling the legislators a bunch of crooks. The type of critic is good because it lets the members of the Congress become aware that the public is looking at their behaviors very closely and thus they must be well behaved and disciplined.

The Dynamic Legislative Process

The legislative process starts with the main idea that comes from Article 1 section 7 of the constitution. There are basically five dynamic legislative processes in making a bill into a law. The House of Representatives to which is entitled to making laws are two and they include the Senate and the Congress. The first step involves writing the bill and introducing it to the Congress for acknowledgement. At this stage, the members are notified of a certain bill whose presence needs to be noticed. After being introduced, a substitute committee is formed to revise, edit and change the bill where necessary. The committee is entrusted to make the major corrections to the areas that seem to irrelevant as well those that seem to have been omitted during the drafting of the bill.

After the revision, the bill is taken back to the Congress, where a full committee is formed to look at the bill once more. Here the committee looks deeply into the intentions of the bill indicating whether it is of any benefit to the country as well as the community in the American nation. At this stage, the full committee can declare the life of the bill to whether it is qualified to go to the next stage. The bill is taken back to the Congress for debate, here the members set rules for the debate and approves the bill. After the congress approval, the final step involves the president of the United States. The president has to sign the bill for it to become a law such that its implementation can start immediately. If the president declines to sign the bill, it can be taken back to the Congress for further rectification or it may be deemed irrelevant leading to its death. All processes of legislation are similar to the bill has to pass the relevant stages before it becomes a law.

Work Cited

Hibbing, John R., and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse. Congress as public enemy: Public attitudes toward American political institutions. Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Kingdon, John W. Congressmen’s voting decisions. University of Michigan Press, 1989.

Rieselbach, Leroy N. Congressional Politics: The Evolving Legislative System. Routledge, 2018.