13.3a Changing Roles & Powers Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in 13.3a Changing Roles & Powers Deck (8)
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Growth of power

16th Amendment (1913) gave Congress the power to levy an income tax.

Midterm elections have much more of a national policy focus, placing much more power in the House Speaker and minority and majority leaders.


Reduction of power

Foreign policy is increasingly controlled by the president who has the power to initiate ‘military actions’ such as the Vietnam war and recent interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

In recent years there has been less cooperation between the two parties. If there is a divided Congress without cooperation, legislation is less likely to pass through both houses and Congress will pass few laws.


Reduced power: executive orders

Presidents have been increasingly using executive orders to pass legislation, rather than having it go through Congress.

As well as this, if the party is in control of either house of Congress approves of the President’s actions, the executive order will not be challenged in Congress.

There has been an increasing use of the presidency as a “bully pulpit” - to inform and shape the opinion of the public.

Donald Trump uses Twitter to discuss issues and shape public opinion, for better or for worse.


Adequate representation

The 115th Congress was the most racially and ethnically diverse in history up to that point, with 19% of members being non-white, up from 15% in the 114th.

Despite Congress’ poor approval rating, the majority of individual congresspeople have over 50% approval rating from their constituents.

American citizens are very ideologically divided, especially along urban/rural lines – the broad range of ideologies is represented in Congress.


Example of adequate representation

Congress represents a wide range of ideologies.

Within the Republicans, there are libertarians such as Rand Paul, moderates such as Susan Collins, and Tea Party members such as Ted Cruz.


Inadequate representation

The US population is 38% non-white, yet only 19% of the 115th Congress is non-white

Only 19% of the 115th Congress is female, compared to around 50% of the population. Women are also underrepresented in leadership positions in Congress.


Inadequate: gerrymandering

Gerrymandering by state legislatures often means that minorities are underrepresented in the House.

Voting district lines are re-drawn to split groups of voters into smaller groups (cracking) to stop them from having a majority.

Lines also ‘pack’ voters into one district to prevent one party from getting too many seats.

Voting district lines are often drawn by partisan committees who use the power to benefit their own party.


Inadequate: focus on re-election

The short terms in the House mean that representatives are often more focused on re-election than the needs of their constituents.

This makes them particularly vulnerable to the influence of corporations and pressure groups who can finance their re-election campaigns.

For example, despite over 90% of Americans being in favour of background checks for gun owners, such measures have been repeatedly been killed in Congress by Congresspeople who receive money from the NRA.