Open Access (free)
Ross M. English

4 The committee system Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee-rooms is Congress at work. (Woodrow Wilson) Writing while still a postgraduate student, President Woodrow Wilson commented, ‘Congressional government is committee government’. Committees are the engine rooms of Congress. In order to become law, every piece of legislation must ultimately face a vote in the chambers of House and Senate, but it is in the committee rooms that nearly all proposals take shape and where most proposals die. This chapter

in The United States Congress
Author: Ross M. English

The role of the Congress is essential to any study of American government and politics. It would be impossible to gain a complete understanding of the American system of government without an appreciation of the nature and workings of this essential body. This text looks at the workings of the United States Congress, and uses the Republican period of ascendancy, which lasted from 1994 until 2000, as an example of how the Congress works in practice. The book illustrates the basic principles of Congress using contemporary and recent examples, while also drawing attention to the changes that took place in the 1990s. The period of Republican control is absent from many of the standard texts and is of considerable academic interest for a number of reasons, not least the 1994 election, the budget deadlock in 1995 and the Clinton impeachment scandal of 1999. The book traces the origin and development of the United States Congress, before looking in depth at the role of representatives and senators, the committee system, parties in Congress, and the relationship between Congress and the President, the media and interest groups.

Ross M. English

, the choice of speciality can also be influenced by their colleagues choices. There is evidence to show that Senators will try to specialise in different areas to those chosen by the other Senator from their state, so to make sure they have their own territory marked out for the media and voters to see.7 At the heart of policy specialisation by members is the committee system of House and Senate, which will be considered in detail in the next chapter. The committees are the engine room of Congress where legislation is researched and formulated. To a large extent the

in The United States Congress
Open Access (free)
Ross M. English

changes in the committee system, much as Democrats did in the 1970s. Alternatively, leaders are in an advantageous position to push through changes within their own party which affect their degree of control over the legislative process, as Gingrich did by ensuring committee chairs were inhabited by members who would be sympathetic to his agenda. The leadership also has some influence over who is assigned to which commitee. The leader of the majority party in the House or Senate also have the power of referral. When a bill is introduced it must be referred to a

in The United States Congress
Ross M. English

-election impulse of members and the power of the committee. With Assessing the US Congress 165 members focused throughout their term of office on the need for re-election, the interests and preferences of their constituents will be a priority. Representatives and Senators will behave and take positions in order to benefit their voters and, if possible, ensure that the benefits of legislation are targeted at their constituency. The committee system allows members to specialise in issues of concern or potential benefit to their constituents and exercise a great deal of

in The United States Congress
Open Access (free)
Neil McNaughton

the administration of such services as health, education, housing, transport and agriculture. It is expected that these policy issues, which were formerly run on sectarian basis, will be conducted in a neutral fashion so that no section of the community will suffer discrimination. A strong committee system, which scrutinises the work of the devolved government, helps to prevent such possibilities from re-emerging. The idea of cross-community agreements in the assembly was a key innovation. It is completely different to anything known either in the British political

in Understanding British and European political issues
Richard Parrish

European Union Education and Culture Directorate’s more socio-cultural approach. The same is true of the committee system within the Parliament. Sporting discussions taking place within the EP’s Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport take a different course to those discussed within the Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens’ Rights. Institutional norms Institutions also develop routinised patterns of behaviour. Despite the widespread provision for qualified majority voting in the Council, consensual decision making is still preferred. In

in Sports law and policy in the European Union
Open Access (free)
Modernisation via Europeanisation
Brigid Laffan

broad thrust of public policy. The Irish cabinet system is not buttressed by an extensive committee system. At an administrative level, day-to-day co-ordination is the responsibility of the Economics Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs which has a watching brief over all EU policies. The division is responsible for co-ordinating briefs for the General Affairs Council, the main co-ordinating council in the EU system and ‘A points’ for other Councils. It also had primary responsibility for the interdepartmental European Communities Committee which was chaired

in Fifteen into one?