American Government (Cliffs Quick Review)

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He has more than a decade of experience teaching American history at the college level and is currently chair of the History Department at Yeshiva University High Schools of Los Angeles. Abraham Hoffman has taught Advanced Placement U. He has served four terms as an AP reader for the U. History exam. He received his doctorate from Harvard University. History I.

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American Government by D. Stephen Voss ,. Abraham Hoffman. Paul Soifer. CliffsQuickReview course guides cover the essentials of your toughest classes. Get a firm grip on core concepts and key material, and test your newfound knowledge with review questions.


Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published May 29th by Houghton Mifflin first published March More Details Original Title. United States of America. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Senators have been directly elected by voters since the Seventeenth Amendment passed in and are much more likely to lose reelection campaigns—so they must work harder to curry favor if they want to keep their positions. Members of the House, by contrast, seldom lose their reelection bids unless they have been marked by scandal or their districts have changed.

Moreover, both houses are granted authority in certain areas. Specific powers Congress is given 27 specific powers under Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution. These are commonly known as the enumerated powers, and they cover such areas as the rights to collect taxes, regulate foreign and domestic commerce, coin money, declare war, support an army and navy, and establish lower federal courts.

In addition, Congress can admit new states to the Union Article IV, Section 3 , propose amendments to the Constitution Article V , collect federal income taxes Sixteenth Amendment , and enforce protection and extension of civil rights Thirteenth, Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-third, Twenty-fourth, and Twenty-sixth Amendments. Implied powers Implied powers are not stated directly in the Constitution. Located at the end of Article I, Section 8, this sentence is often called the elastic clause because it stretches the authority of Congress.

The Supreme Court upheld the concept of implied powers in the landmark case McCulloch v. Maryland , ruling that the federal government had the right to establish a national bank under the power delegated to Congress to borrow money and control commerce. A more recent example of implied powers is the War Powers Act of , which limited the ability of the President to send American troops into combat without consulting and notifying Congress.

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The Bill of Rights prohibits Congress from making laws that limit individual liberties. Under the system of checks and balances, the president can veto a law passed by Congress, or the Supreme Court can declare a law unconstitutional. Voters can ignore unpopular laws and press for their repeal, as happened with the Eighteenth Amendment establishing Prohibition.

The Organization of Congress Congress consists of senators two from each state and members of the House of Representatives, a number that was fixed by the 24 CliffsQuickReview American Government Reapportionment Act of This act recognized that simply adding more seats to the House as the population grew would make it too unwieldy. Today, each congressperson represents approximately , people. Congressional districts Americans are known for their mobility, and over the years states have lost and gained population.

After each federal census, which occurs every ten years, adjustments are made in the number of congressional districts. This process is known as reapportionment. In recent years, states in the West and Southwest have increased their representation in the House, while states in the Northeast and Midwest have lost seats. Congressional district lines are usually drawn by the state legislatures although the federal courts sometimes draw districts when the original plans lose a constitutional challenge.

The majority party often tries to draw the boundaries to maximize the chances for its candidates to win elections. Gerrymandering now refers to the creating of any oddly shaped district designed to elect a representative of a particular political party or a particular ethnic group. Beginning with the civil rights movement of the s, the number of ethnic minorities and women in Congress has increased. There has been less change in the occupational backgrounds of the representatives and senators. Many legislators are lawyers or businesspeople, or they have made a career of political life.

Once elected to office, members of Congress represent their constituents in different ways.

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Some consider themselves delegates, obligated to vote the way the majority of the people in their districts want. A congressperson or senator who takes this position makes every effort to stay in touch with voter public opinion through questionnaires or surveys and frequent trips back home. Others see themselves as trustees who, while taking the views of their constituents into account, use their own best judgment or their conscience to vote. President John Quincy Adams, who served ten terms in the House after he was defeated in the presidential election of , is a classic example of a representative as trustee.

Chapter 3: Congress 25 Members of Congress have a clear advantage over challengers who want to unseat them. Current members are incumbents, candidates for reelection who already hold the office. As such, they have name recognition because the people in the district or state know them.

They can use the franking privilege, or free use of the mail, to send out newsletters informing their constituents about their views or asking for input. Incumbents traditionally have easier access to campaign funds and volunteers to generate votes. It is not surprising that 90 percent of incumbents are reelected. The situation is not static, however. Legislators run for other offices, and vacancies are created by death, retirement, and resignation. Although term limits, restricting the number of consecutive terms an individual can serve, were rejected by the Supreme Court, the idea continues to enjoy the support of voters who want to see more open contests.

Leadership in the House The Speaker of the House of Representatives is the only presiding officer and traditionally has been the main spokesperson for the majority party in the House. The position is a very powerful one; the Speaker is third in line in presidential succession after the president and vice president.

The majority floor leader is second only to the Speaker. He or she comes from the political party that controls the House and is elected through a caucus, a meeting of the House party members. The majority leader presents the official position of the party on issues and tries to keep party members loyal to that position, which is not always an easy task.

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In the event that a minority party wins a majority of the seats in a congressional election, its minority leader usually becomes the majority leader. The minority party in the House also has a leadership structure, topped by the minority floor leader. Whoever fills this elected position serves as the chief spokesperson and legislative strategist for the party and often works hard to win the support of moderate members of the opposition on particular votes. Although the minority leader has little formal power, it is an important job, especially because whoever holds it conventionally takes over the speakership if control of the House changes hands.

Leadership in the Senate The Senate has a somewhat different leadership structure. The vice president is officially the presiding officer and is called the president of the 26 CliffsQuickReview American Government Senate. The vice president seldom appears in the Senate chamber in this role unless it appears that a crucial vote may end in a tie.

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