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Congressmen And Their Influences Essay Research Paper

Congressmen And Their Influences Essay, Research Paper Congressmen and Their Influences The notion that a Congressman ran for office for unselfish goals and went away

Congressmen And Their Influences Essay, Research Paper

Congressmen and Their Influences

The notion that a Congressman ran for office for unselfish goals and went away

to Washington to serve his country and represent his neighbors seems quaint and

luaghable compared to the way that we currently regard members of congress.

Recent views have suggested that most people felt that while the institution on

the whole was corrupt, but that their representative was a good person and

servant of the electorate. More and more each member is scrutinized and judged

harsher by their constituencies, the media, their own party and the numerous

interest groups and cuacuses that make it possible for them to act as Senators

and Representatives. The Congress and President work together through their own

institutions in the common goal of running the worlds most powerful nation. The

legilative powers were divided this way to ensure that all new laws would be

debated and decided not by a few but through a heirarchy that gives every

citizen a part to play in our collective decision making.

Each of the individuals in the House has an equitable voting relationship with

the others, 1=1=1, when it come to passing legislation, but in the earlier

phases of formulating policy some relationships are dominant over others. The

only ones that would be lower than a freshman Democrat in the 105th Congress

from a rural, low industry district are probably those that represent our

protectorates Guam, Puerto Rico, etc. Many levels within the parties and the

institution afford some members leadership roles and positions that they can use

to sway the other members. The Whips, Majority and Minority leaders and the

Speaker of the House are looking for party cohesion and also bi-partisan support

for a bill. Coalitions are forged or broken depending on the issue at hand.

Individual committee positions are another point were some are more powerful

than others. The committees are major superintendents of some agencies and

members not on that particular committee may be ignored or relegated to other

tasks while the major decisions are being made. Since much of policy direction

is dominated by the two party system they are able to use the majority selected

rules and procedures of the House to their advantage. In the more collegial and

congenial Senate power is more diffused and shared between the members and

minority rights are protected.

In the parties the leaders are able to use their personalities and power to

influence the agenda that is agreed upon. The way the House is run leaves a

great deal of discretion to the leaders of the parties and committee members

regarding which specific measures will be debated and concentrated on. The

comeupance of Newt has shown how a member of the House can predominate a

political agenda th4at has broad support. The boisterous Newt has brought to the

House a new sense of power and prestige for the Republican party and also to the

office of Speaker of the House. Newt has lost some of his political steam in the

midst of ethics investigations and the friction caused by his abrasive

personality. Starting the 104th congress as a revolutionary leader bent on a

smaller more efficient government his power has been diminished as his corps of

freshmen have become increasingly independent. The democrats chipped away at him

and his support by casting a shadow over each of the Republicans in the house as

cronies of Newt. During the recent campaigns Newt tried to lay low except for in

his home district as thousands of ads linked the Republicans to Newt. As he has

down in the last congress he will continue to be a force in the shaping and

direction of any new policies.

Since the retirement from the Senate of Bob Dole, Trent Lott has taken over

leadership duties for the Republican party in the Senate and has personally

become more prominent as a Republican player while Newt has been forced to

defend his policy agenda and his personal conduct from all sides. As a powerful

personality like Gingrich, Lott will have a great influence. Almost every piece

of legislation is going to have hiss blessing or input within it. Lott has

brought to the position experience that makes as a good requisite foe the job.

He has served in the House as party whip and made many improvements in the

position that he later used as a whip in the Senate. These changes streamlined

many operations that made party coordination and cohesion easier. Now as Senate

Majority Leader he is in a great position to influence the President and to

persuade the public to help advance his parties goals.

The president is also a major player in shaping what comes out of congress. He

is able to use various tactics that blur party lines in the rhetorical war of

words. Congress and the President work together daily, but not in harmony. Many

of their efforts are contradictory because they represent different

constituencies and are faced with different pressures. Party lines are not the

only ones that dived when it come to policy making. Carter and Clinton both saw

the difficulty incurred, even in unified government, to formulate policy. These

separation of powers forces the burden of policy making to be done even though

many competing individuals fight for their agendas to be fulfilled. Sometimes

Presidential priorities and congressional desires coincide to create a win-win

situation. Reagan was able to do it for a while when his agenda of cutting taxes

and increasing defense played directly into the hands of a Democratic congress

that was more than happy to bring home a slice of pork to their districts and

states. Some policies were reactive to Reagans desires for a stronger military

and other benefits for big business. The distributive policies passed out many

perks that were divided among the members homes and many regulatory policies

were written by congress to benefit large corporations.

Most inherently in our political system is a set of divergent forces that cause

the two branches to check and conflict with each other and react to major

concerns of the electorate. When the President proposes any policy he is acting

as a legislator for the entire country. He can make public appeals for support

from the masses to pressure their representative to support an idea. One of his

greatest powers to shape what comes out of congress is his power to veto. Even

the threat of such action is sometime enough to influence policy while it is

still being formulated. The President must constantly be aware of the power

shifts and public perceptions that people have between these two branches of

government. It can shift quickly producing conflict and also compromise. It may

produce a better bargaining relationship where the two try to accommodate each

others agenda’s where they overlap.

The President is also able to influence congress down to the individual members

by lobbying them directly for their support or by giving or withdrawing

patronage services. Members of the same party as the President can greatly

benefit from a close relationship and ride on their coattails come election time

or be diparaged for his ties to to the executive branch. Natural allegiances

between the President and members of congress, such as party, geographic

concerns and economic priorities help greatly to advance a President’s goals.

These members may be an advocate all the way to the floor and within the

committees. Other informal ties help to influence the Executive-Legilative

relationship as they work together. For the first two years of Clinton’s term,

he worked with a unified government to pass many of his ideas that he gained

support for through public appeals. Many of the members who supported the

President were passed over for re-election for the sole reason of supporting him.

Many were perceived to be acting as trustees and were ousted in favor of

Republicans who promised to be more like delegates of their constituency.

Clinton was able to gain the upper hand in public support after the governmental

shutdowns were judged to be the fault of a radical congress that tried to pass

an unacceptable budget proposal into law.

Along side of the competing forces between the legislature and President are the

organized interest groups whose sole purpose is to promote their own agendas.

They are all fighting each other for the lawmakers’ attention to benefit

themselves and their members. Our general desire to associate with like minded

people has exploded by the need to make the views and inputs of each of these

groups known on a wide scale. These groups are able to spread their influence to

all levels of government. They are able to give committees support on

initiatives, advice about a problem, and information that may or may not be

biased to help their cause. Representatives that are sympathetic to the groups

cause can also secure votes and monies for their campaigns for office.

Different interest groups have different levels of power and influence depending

on their organization and strength. The two main ingredients for a successful

interest group are money and personnel. They also need a well organized flow of

information to the members that they need to influence and also to their own

members that may be called on to protest a program or donate to a candidate. The

personnel are there to lobby for their interests everywhere the lawmaker turns.

In the past they may have been offering sweetheart deals for proposed

legislation to be passed, but now with our closer scrutiny of lawmakers they

must be more aware of how there voting patterns will be judged when compared to

who has given them money. The lobbyist is not looking so blatantly to buy a

legislator but they have never been shy about letting them know how they feel

about what is done for or against them to forward their goals. This can be done

by attending committee meetings to asses tendencies of a Rep and to gather

information to give to a legislative proponent. The lobbying does not stop in

the Capitol but goes on at social functions such as fund raisers and vacation

retreats as favors are passed for political promises. Lobbying can reach the

grassroots level when a group gives cues to constituents that in turn press on

their representative for action. Some of the members of these groups have gotten

there positions by going through he revolving door of public service and private

influence. This happens when a person has worked for an agency that implements

policy or for a political insider, then they take their knowledge, expertise and

political contacts and use them to work for the benefit of the group that want

to have influence over policy making.

An organized interest groups most powerful weapon is its’ money. Money makes

their influence possible because if they had none, they would never have been

able to reach an influential audience at all.. Groups also use money to support

candidates.

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