13.3b Changing Significance of Parties and Powers Flashcards Preview

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Changing Significance: More significant

Parties were not mentioned in the Constitution, but Congress is now split between two different parties (with some independents in the Senate).

Party-line voting has increased since the 1970s, so is now more important.

This may be because constituents have become more partisan, or because representatives have become more partisan.

Parties have become more partisan, and so the legislation that is enacted is more likely to change depending on the party in power.


Changing Significance: Less significant to the public

Among some members of the public political parties have become less important.

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both became popular because they stood against the party mainstream.

6/10 members of the public said in 2016 that they did not feel represented by either major party.

Millennials are less likely to identify with a political party than they are to be an independent.


Changing Significance: Less significant in Congress

Caucuses in Congress have an increasing amount of power.

The Freedom Caucus was important in forcing the Speaker of the House John Boehner to resign in 2015, and withheld their support for the frontrunner Kevin McCarthy, who then dropped out of the race.

The Freedom Caucus also were important in rejecting the American Health Care Act in 2017 - because without support from the Freedom Caucus it did not have enough votes to pass.


Significance of powers

Article I of the Constitution lists the powers of Congress.

These include the exclusive power to declare war, power over financial matters, power to collect taxes, and powers to impeach and try members of the executive and judiciary.

These powers are significant because they have been entrenched, and would require a supermajority in both houses of Congress to change.

Entrenchment means that the President cannot overrule Congress on certain issues, which keeps the power of the President checked.


Effectiveness of powers

Congress has power to levy taxes, and increased this power to levy income taxes in 1913.

Congress controls major laws and can override a presidential veto.

Congress has used the power of the purse to check the executive branch.

Congress has implied powers as specified by the “necessary and proper” clause of the US Constitution, which allows it to increase its powers.


Less effective

The increasing use of executive orders by presidents has made the Constitutional powers of congress less effective.

Presidents have initiated wars without consent from Congress, making the Constitutional power to declare war less effective.

For example, the Vietnam War never received consent from Congress.