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Review Alcoa’s (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. website. In a two-page paper (not including the title and reference pages) you must:Describe how you would classify Alcoa’s ethical work climate. In your description, address which type of community it is (see Section 4.2): geography-based, identity-based, organizationally-based, and/or virtually based.Explain the role top management commitment plays in developing the ethical work climate and organizational performance seen at Alcoa.Define and discuss any two of the six cultural questions as they apply to Alcoa (see Section 4.3).You must use at least one scholarly source in addition to the text and your paper must be formatted according to APA style guidelines as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center. Note: Title must appear on the first page of text; headings must be used in all APA essays; and, the final heading of your paper must be the word: Conclusion. Contact your instructor if you have any questions regarding proper formatting.
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4
Congress and Policymaking
© Jean-Pierre Lescourret/Corbis
Learning Objectives
By the end of this chapter, you should be able to
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Distinguish between enumerated and implied congressional powers.
Analyze congressional powers on the basis of the Necessary and Proper Clause.
Analyze the ways that Congress performs its representative function.
Analyze the organization of Congress and how that organization affects the legislative process.
Describe how bills become laws and explain the political nature of the legislative process.
Describe how Congress holds the executive branch accountable.
Explain the different aspects of congressional elections.
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Congressional Powers as Stated in the U.S. Constitution
Section 4.1
Toward the end of the 111th Congress (2009–2011), Congress passed a bill to extend two of
President George W. Bush’s tax cut bills: the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation
Act (2001) and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief and Reconciliation Act (2003). While the cuts
lowered tax rates overall, earners in the top tax brackets derived greater benefit than those in
lower tax brackets did. Critics suggested that the cuts were actually giveaways to the rich,
while supporters claimed reduced taxes helped spur economic growth, as individuals would
have more money in their pockets to spend.
© Michael Reynolds/epa/Corbis
After much haggling and compromise, members of
Congress from both parties, along with President
Barack Obama, reached an agreement to extend the
Bush tax cuts that both sides could live with.
As the tax cuts were about to
expire in 2010, President Barack
Obama and congressional Democrats favored the tax cuts expiring
for those earning at least $200,000
per year. Meanwhile, Republicans,
who had secured a majority in the
House and narrowed the Democrats’
majority in the Senate in the 2010
midterm elections, promised to
extend the cuts for everyone. The tax
rates would increase on January 1,
2011 if no action were taken. Members of both parties were concerned
that a tax rate increase would slow
the emerging economic recovery.
Incoming Republicans were prepared to vote for a complete extension once the 112th Congress took office on January 6, 2011. They believed that there were so
many Democrats concerned about being reelected in 2012 that they would vote with them
to make the needed legislative majorities. Democrats believed that if no action were taken on
the extension, the Republicans would gain the upper hand. Democrats also wanted to extend
unemployment insurance benefits to last 99 weeks and pass a new stimulus plan, which the
Republicans opposed.
Some Democrats in Congress were prepared to stand on principle and reject Republican
demands. Yet with help from the White House, most Democrats and Republicans were able
to reach a compromise. Congressional Democrats and the president supported a 2-year tax
cut extension across all income categories if congressional Republicans would support the
99-week unemployment benefits extension along with a stimulus package that included a 2%
deduction of Social Security payroll taxes for 1 year. Ideological purists in both parties were
dissatisfied, while practical-minded Congress members understood the political realities of
lawmaking that include deal making, vote trading, and compromises. The tax cut extension is
a good example of how Congress members seek to represent their constituents. In this chapter, we explore how Congress represents the American people.
4.1 Congressional Powers as Stated in the U.S. Constitution
Congress is the legislative branch. As such, it writes the nation’s laws and makes public policy. Further, Congress holds the executive branch accountable through its oversight function.
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Congressional Powers as Stated in the U.S. Constitution
Section 4.1
By raising and spending money, Congress determines how taxpayer funds will be allocated.
The U.S. Senate influences foreign policy through its power to confirm Cabinet-level appointments (secretary of state, secretary of defense) and ambassadorships and by ratifying treaties. Finally, Congress participates in national security by raising armies and declaring war on
other nations. Each of these functions speaks to the primary role of the legislative branch to
represent the people.
The scope of congressional power, and the parameters of its representation, are both established in Article I of the Constitution, Section I, which states, “All legislative Powers herein
granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and
House of Representatives.” Once Congress is established as bicameral, or made up of two
chambers, it defines who is eligible to serve, how each chamber selects its members, and term
length. Members of the House represent the people in districts for 2-year terms. Citizens are
also represented by senators, who serve for 6-year terms.
Most importantly, however, Article I outlines the principal powers of Congress, which are the
power of the purse, the power to declare war, and implied powers.
Enumerated Powers: The Power of the Purse
The power of the purse is perhaps Congress’s most important power. Article I, Section 7
states, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” This means all bills concerning
taxes must be proposed by the House of Representatives before moving on to the Senate. It is
the responsibility of Congress to pass the national budget before it is signed by the president.
Article I, Section 8 includes enumerated powers, or the powers specifically granted to Congress by the Constitution: “Congress shall have Power to Lay and collect Taxes . . . To borrow
Money on the Credit of the United States . . . To Coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of
foreign Coin and fix the Standard of weights and Measures.” Further, Congress has the authority
to impose taxes, borrow money, and print money. Congress may decide whether the nation
will use coins or print money.
While Congress has the power to
raise taxes and spend money, the
national budget, like any other law,
must be approved by majorities in
both houses of Congress and signed
by the president. The Budget and
Accounting Act of 1921 requires
the president to prepare budget
estimates, which are then submitted to Congress. This requirement
helps Congress learn about department budget needs. Before this law
was enacted, departments often
submitted their budget estimates
directly to Congress. The purpose
of the Budget and Accounting Act,
Associated Press/Doug Mills
Only Congress has the authority to lay and collect taxes,
and to borrow and print money. Presidents prepare
budgets and submit them to Congress.
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Congressional Powers as Stated in the U.S. Constitution
Section 4.1
which required the president to submit budget estimates, was to give the president responsibility for the budget. From an administrative standpoint, the president has greater control
over executive branch agencies and departments, which promotes greater accountability. The
president’s right to submit a budget proposal can be inferred from Article II, Section 3 of the
Constitution, which says, “He shall from time to time give the Congress Information of the State
of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary
and expedient.”
Consider the vignette introducing this chapter. Extending the Bush tax cuts required Congress
to introduce a bill calling for their extension. Because the bill concerned taxation, the House
had to introduce it, after which the Senate needed to approve it before it was formally presented to the president, which is required under Article I, Section 7. Had Congress failed to
act, it would have meant the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, as originally enacted.
Enumerated Powers: The Power to Declare War
The enumerated powers of Congress include the power to “declare War,” “raise and support
Armies,” and “provide and maintain a Navy.” If Congress declares war, Congress must also
appropriate the money to fight it. When the Constitution was initially ratified, there was no
Air Force, and the Army and Navy were each separate departments. Today, all branches of
the military fall under the Department of Defense, and Congress makes appropriations for all
of them. Still, the authority to appropriate money to the armed forces is taken from specific
constitutional provisions.
The formal authority to declare war is a matter of maintaining checks and balances. Traditionally, presidents request formal declarations of war from Congress. Congress has declared
war five times since the Constitution was ratified. The last time was on December 8, 1941,
one day after the Japanese attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor. President Roosevelt
appeared before a joint session of Congress and requested the declaration. Historical congressional declarations of war include the following:
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War of 1812 (1812–1814)
Mexican American War (1846–1848)
Spanish-American War (1898–1898)
World War I (1917–1921)
World War II (1941–1945)
Implied Powers and the Necessary and Proper Clause
Congress’s implied powers are based on the enumerated powers in Section 8. Congress uses
its implied powers to expand its authority beyond the scope of its enumerated powers. Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 states, “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for
carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution
of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” As noted in earlier chapters, this
clause is also known as the Necessary and Proper Clause and suggests that Congress has
an implied power to do something not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution if it infers
that such action is necessary to fulfill its other constitutional requirements. For example,
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The Meaning of Representation
Section 4.2
Congress’s enumerated powers include the power “To raise and support armies,” although the
Constitution does not specify what that means. It has meant calling upon state National Guard
units and military drafts even though the Constitution does not give Congress the specific
authority to do either. Congress, however, can infer the right on the basis of the Necessary and
Proper Clause, because calling upon the National Guard is understood, or inferred, to be part
of Congress’s power to “raise and support armies,” which is an enumerated power.
Implied powers are the basis for justifying broadening congressional power. You may recall
from the last chapter that during the period of Dual Federalism, congressional power was
assumed to be limited because the Constitution outlines what it can do. More recently, Congress has overcome that restriction by asserting its implied powers. If Congress passes a law
using its implied powers and without enumerated constitutional authority, that law may be
challenged as unconstitutional in the courts.
Even when there is an enumerated power, such as with interstate commerce in the Commerce
Clause, its scope may not be clear. The Necessary and Proper Clause allows Congress to tie
legislation to the Commerce Clause. Congress established the precedent for such an expansion of its powers in the early days of the republic when the Federalists supported a national
bank over the objections of the Anti-Federalists, who claimed that it would violate states’
rights. After heated debate, Congress established the bank on the grounds that it was necessary and proper for the purposes of coining money.
Arguably, such reasoning could serve as the basis for unlimited congressional authority. This
argument was used when Congress passed the first minimum wage law in 1938. Before then,
national legislation was considered to be an unconstitutional encroachment on a state’s police
power. Congress argued that, when firms were conducting business across state lines, employee
pay was a matter of national concern because of Congress’s express authority to regulate interstate commerce. The constitutionality of the minimum wage was upheld on these grounds.
More recently, during the debate leading up to passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010,
conservative critics asked what the basis in the Constitution was for such legislation, especially the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance. Congress’s response was
that the power was found in the Commerce Clause. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act on the grounds that the health insurance requirement was a tax. As Article I,
Section 8 gives Congress the power to lay and collect taxes, it was within Congress’s power to
mandate health insurance because the tax is a penalty for not purchasing the health insurance.
4.2 The Meaning of Representation
Congress makes policy and passes legislation all as part of its representation function. Yet representation means different things to different people under different circumstances. On the
one hand, representation can mean that Congress members do exactly what the people tell
them to do. Yet Congress members represent by doing what they believe is right because they
have been entrusted by the people to speak and make decisions on their behalf. Representation can be interpreted on an individual level, such as when a member of Congress performs
constituent services such as helping to track down a missing Social Security payment; it also
can mean that Congress as a legislative body represents the people by holding the executive
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The Meaning of Representation
Section 4.2
branch of government accountable. Congress members are expected to represent the people
by serving as their agent and acting on their behalf.
Apportionment and Congressional Districts
Article I of the Constitution provides for apportionment, or the distribution of House seats
among the states on the basis of population. Larger states are apportioned more representatives than smaller states are. House seats are apportioned into congressional districts.
The Constitution does not require congressional districts. Rather, it states in Article I,
­Section 2,
The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting
of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten
Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at
least one Representative.
Put differently, it is up to the states to define the boundaries of congressional districts.
During the early years, each state could decide if it wanted districts at all. Most states established themselves as single-member districts, which meant that each district had only one representative. The alternative was to allow for members of the House to represent their states
on an at-large basis such that a state with 10 House seats would be represented by all 10,
each representing the entire state, as opposed
to 10 separate districts, with one representative each. An at-large system would make the
House similar to the Senate with members representing their states rather than the people.
To prevent this, Congress passed the Apportionment Act in 1842 requiring all states to
send representatives to Congress from singlemember districts (as of the 2010 Census, seven
states have one representative each because
of their small populations; in these states, all
state residents are represented at large).
Associated Press/Nati Harnik
The Nebraska Legislature’s Redistricting
Committee redraws the state’s congressional districts, something states do periodically. Beyond the one-seat minimum guaranteed in the Constitution, the number of
House seats apportioned to each state is
determined by population.
Interestingly, the Constitution does not require
equal representation in each congressional
district. According to Article I, Section 2, “The
Number of Representatives shall not exceed one
for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall
have at Least one Representative.” The implication is that there is no fixed number of representatives in the House. As the population
grew, the Constitution implied, so too would
the number of representatives. But in 1929,
federal law fixed the number of House seats at
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The Meaning of Representation
Section 4.2
435, which meant that as the population increased, each House member would represent
a larger population within the same geographical area. As of the 2010 Census, each House
member represents approximately 710,000 people.
Gerrymandering
District boundary lines are not necessarily fixed. States will draw district lines as they see fit,
which may reflect state legislators’ desire to gerrymander to advance their own political
interests. Gerrymandering occurs when a district is intentionally configured to maximize
the influence of a specific party or class, often guaranteeing that districts remain safe for specific incumbents or parties. Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry first employed this practice prior to the 1812 election in an effort to protect his political party representation in the
state legislature. One district ended up looking like a salamander, and as a result the practice
came to be known as gerrymandering (see Figure 4.1).
One example of gerrymandering eventually resulted in a Supreme Court challenge. Following
the 1990 census, the North Carolina General Assembly sought to enact a congressional plan
with only one district with a majority of minority group members in 1991. This was known as
majority-minority districting, often referred to as racial gerrymandering. The demographics
of this northeast North Carolina area
made it possible to create a small
Figure 4.1: Gerrymander cartoon
Black district by joining it with the
predominantly Black precinct in DurThe concept of gerrymandering takes its name from an
ham, North Carolina. The U.S. Justice
1812 Essex County, Massachusetts, district, which was
Department opposed the plan, howintentionally drawn to benefit Governor Elbridge Gerry’s
ever, because of insufficient minority
political party. This cartoon of the district as a dragon
satirized the practice.
representation. At the time, the state
was 22% African American; one predominantly African American district
was deemed insufficient.
Meanwhile, the State General Assembly, then controlled by Democrats,
responded in early 1992 by creating a gerrymandered district. While
Republicans had proposed several
plans that would contain two minority districts, Democratic leaders in
the Assembly selected one and modified it to be more favorable to their
party. Several Republicans challenged
the plan, claiming that it lacked both
compactness and respect for community interests.
In Shaw v. Reno (1993), the U.S.
Supreme Court ruled that a racial
gerrymander may, in some circumstances, violate the 14th Amendment’s
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