UNIT 2 TEST 2ND QUARTER ESSAY TOPICS AND KEY TERMS
CHAPTER 11 – INTEREST GROUPS CHAPTER 12 – CONGRESS
1. (AP question 2004) Different interest groups will choose different techniques to achieve their objectives based on their
resources, characteristics, and goals.
(a) Describe each of the following techniques and explain why an interest group would choose each technique.
- Campaign contributions
- Grassroots lobbying/mass mobilization
(a) Select one of the following groups and identify the primary technique it uses from the list in part (a).
Explain why the group you selected would employ that technique over the other two techniques.
- American Medical Association (AMA)
- Sierra Club
- National Rifle Association (NRA)
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
2. (AP question 1999) National interest groups often target national-level policymaking institutions to achieve their policy
Select one of the following national interest groups.
-American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
-American Medical Association (AMA)
-National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
-National Association of
For the group you selected do each of the following:
a. identify one major national-level policymaking institution that this group targets
b. Describe one resource or characteristic of the group you have chosen AND explain how it influences the choice
of the target you have identified in (a).
c. Describe another resource or characteristic of the group you have chosen AND explain how it influences the choice of the target you have identified in (a).
3. (AP question 2003) Both party leadership and committees in Congress play key roles in the legislative process.
Define two of the following elements of the congressional committee system and explain how each influences the legislative
C. Party representation on committees
Identify two ways party leadership in Congress can influence the legislative process, and explain how each way influences
4. (AP question 2008) Congressional reapportionment and redistricting are conducted every ten years. When redistricting is
conducted, politicians often engage in gerrymandering.
(a) Define congressional reapportionment and explain one reason why it is important to states
(b) Define congressional redistricting.
(c) Explain two goals of politicians when they gerrymander during redistricting.
(d) Describe two limits that the United States Supreme Court has placed on congressional redistricting.
KEY TERMS AND CONCEPTS
Actual group: a group composed of those in the potential group who are members
of the interest group.
Amicus curiae briefs: friend of the court briefs filed by interest groups to inform
the court of their position and to state how their welfare would be affected by a
Class action lawsuits: a technique used by interest groups which allows groups of
people with similar complaints to combine their grievances into a single suit.
Collective good: something of value which cannot be withheld from individuals in
the potential group.
Electioneering: helping sympathetic candidates get into office.
Elite theory: argues that because only a few groups have enough power to
influence policy, power is concentrated into a few interlocking power centers.
Free-rider problem: a situation where individuals let others work to secure a
collective good and then enjoy the benefit without contributing anything to the
Hyperpluralist theory: argues that too many groups are getting what they want at
the expense of the unrepresented and that this behavior leads to incoherent public
Interest groups: organizations where people with similar policy goals enter the
political process to achieve those goals.
Lobbying: a communication by someone other than a citizen acting on his or her
own behalf, directed to a governmental decision-maker with the hope of influencing
his or her decision.
Olson's law of large groups: suggests that the larger the group, the more difficult
it will be to secure enough of the collective good to encourage participation.
Pluralist theory: argues that interest group activities provide additional
representation and compete against each other to influence political outcomes.
Political Action Committees: a legal means for groups to participate in elections
by contributing money.
Potential group: a group composed of all people who share some common
Public interest lobbies: organizations that seek a collective good which does not
only benefit their membership.
Right to work law: a law that outlaws union membership as a condition of
Selective benefits: these benefits are goods that a group can restrict to those who
Single-issue groups: groups which have very narrow interests, shun compromise,
and single-mindedly pursue goals.
Subgovernments: exclusive relationships composed of interest groups leaders,
government agency personnel, and members of congressional committees who
perform mutually beneficial services for each other at the public's expense.
Union shop: a rule established to prevent free-riders by requiring new employees
to join the union where one has been granted bargaining rights.
Bicameral legislature: a legislature which is divided into two chambers.
Bill: a proposed law, drafted in precise, legal language.
Casework: helping constituents as individuals cut through bureaucratic red tape to
receive their rightful benefits.
Caucus: a grouping of members of Congress sharing some interest or characteristic.
Committee chairs: the most important influences on the congressional agenda; they
schedule hearings, hire staff, appoint subcommittees, and manage committee bills.
Conference committee: a special committee formed when each chamber passes a
bill in different forms, composed of members of each chamber who were appointed
by each chamber's leaders to work out a compromise bill.
Filibuster: is unlimited debate, is unique to the Senate, and can only be ended by a
vote for cloture by 60 members.
House Rules Committee: a committee unique to the House, which is appointed
by the Speaker of the House, reviews most bills coming from a House committee for
a floor vote, and which gives each bill a rule.
Incumbents: people who already hold office.
Joint committees: special committees composed of members from each chamber.
Legislative oversight: the process of monitoring the bureaucracy and its
administration of policy.
Majority Leader: The Speaker's principal partisan ally who is responsible for
soliciting support for the party's position on legislation.
Minority Leader: is the minority party's counterpart to the majority party's
Pork barrel: list of federal projects, grants, and contracts available to cities,
businesses, colleges, and institutions.
Select committees: appointed for a specific purpose.
Seniority system: a system used until the 1970s where majority party members
who had served on their committees the longest, regardless of party loyalty, mental
state, or competence, were automatically appointed chair of the committee.
Speaker of the House: is mandated by the Constitution, is next in line after the
vice president to succeed a president who is unable to fulfill his/her term and who
presides over the House.
Standing committees: committees formed in each chamber to handle bills in
different policy areas.
Whip: The majority or minority leader's principle tool for securing support for
legislation and who lobby partisans for support.
THE ENUMERATED POWERS OF CONGRESS (SEE CONSTITUTION)
1. HAVE ALL LEGISLATIVE POWERS (MAKE LAWS AND OVERRIDE VETOS)
2. MUST MEET ONCE A YEAR AND CAN DETERMINE DATE AND LENGTH
3. EACH HOUSE JUDGES ELECTIONS, RETURNS, QUALIFICATIONS AND PUNISHMENTS OF ITS MEMBERS
ADMIT STATES TO THE
5. PUNISH TREASON
6. DECIDE ABILITY OF THE PRESIDENT TO DISCHARGE HIS DUTIES (25TH AMENDMENT)
7. DETERMINE RULES AND OFFICERS OF ITS PROCEEDINGS
8. KEEP A JOURNAL OF PROCEEDINGS (CONGRESSIONAL RECORD)
9. PROPOSE AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
10. DETERMINE ELECTORAL COLLEGE DISPUTES
11. LEVY AND COLLECT TAXES
12. BORROW MONEY
13. REGULATE INTERSTATE AND FOREIGN COMMERCE
14. ESTABLISH NATURALIZATION LAWS AND BANKRUPTCY LAWS
15. COIN MONEY
16. REGULATE WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
17. PUNISH COUNTERFEITING
18. ESTABLISH POST OFFICES AND POST ROADS
19. ESTABLISH PATENT AND COPYRIGHT LAWS
20. ESTABLISH COURT SYSTEM BELOW THE SUPREME COURT
21. PUNISH PIRACIES AND ENFORCE LAWS OF NATIONS
22. DECLARE WAR, GRANT LETTERS OF MARQUE AND REPRISAL, RULES CONCERNING CAPTURE
23. RAISE AND SUPPORT ARMIES, PROVIDE AND MAINTAIN NAVY AND RULES FOR NAVAL AND LAND FORCES
24. PROVIDE FOR THE CALLING OF THE MILITIA TO SUPPRESS INSURRECTIONS AND REPEL INVASIONS
ORGANIZE, ARM AND
26. JURISDICTION OVER DC
27. CONFIRM APPOINTEES AND RATIFY TREATIES (BY SENATE)
28. ALL REVENUE BILLS ORIGINATE IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
29. TRY (HOUSE) AND CONVICT (SENATE) IMPEACHMENT CASES
30. MAKE OR ALTER EACH STATES ESTABLISHMENT OF THE TIME, PLACE AND MANNER OF CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS
31. NECESSARY AND PROPER CLAUSE TO CARRY OUT THE PREVIOUSLY LISTED POWERS
Lobby Groups No Dough Strategy Stops at Executives Doors
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Tuesday, October 16, 2007; A17
Association of Manufacturers, one of
Most lobbies are eager to shower politicians they like (or need) with campaign contributions, and proudly maintain political action committees to do so. They also try to keep their executives' salaries from growing conspicuously large, for reasons of good public relations and common sense.
In a newsletter called Association Bisnow, the group's president, John M. Engler, said he is glad not to have a PAC and is happy to be unable to give money away to candidates for federal office. In an article headlined "Engler Has a 'No Dough' Strategy," the former Michigan governor said, "It's nice walking into someone's office knowing that you did not spend money to defeat them."
I guess the pleasure that other lobbyists feel walking into the offices of lawmakers that they helped to put there is not as heady an experience.
In any case, Engler's no-dough strategy does not extend to the executives at his trade group.
Compensation for its top officers and key staff members rose 30 percent in 2006, according to tax records first obtained by CEO Update magazine. Engler received the biggest increase, taking home $1.2 million in compensation, a 42 percent rise from 2005.
The industry that
M. Engler, president of the National Association of
Manufacturers, was paid $1.2 million last year, a 42 percent raise.
The Lobbying Game Why the Revolving Door Won t Close
Thursday, Feb. 16, 2006
By TIMOTHY J. BURGER/WASHINGTON
Jeffrey Shockey worked for one of the most powerful
committees in Congress, he was a lobbyist at one of the more successful
boutique lobbying firms in
At a time when the excesses of the Jack Abramoff scandal have prodded Congress to at least go through the motions on lobbying reform, the dizzying merry-go-round of staffers like Shockey show just how hard it is to really change the way things are done on Capitol Hill. Granted, many lobbyists chase pork and members of Congress regularly exchange favors with webs of family and ex-aides. But Shockey's straddling of K Street and Capitol Hill is particuarly poignant and visible—even if, as in most cases, his lawyer and spokesman say it is all perfectly legal.
It's the revolving door that helps perpetuate the cozy world of lobbying for such favors as earmarks—the suddenly controversial system by which the House and Senate Appropriations Committees dish out tens of billions of dollars in pork from the $843 billion a year in discretionary spending they doled out for this year. President Bush and new House Majority Leader John Boehner are now calling for reform of the clubby earmark game. But Appropriations Committee members and the many other pork enthusiasts in Congress have long staved off such change—partly because constituents have seldom got mad at their own representatives for bringing home the bacon.
Shockey's career is a case study in how the game works. When he
left Capitol Hill for the lobbying world in 1999—after spending more than eight
years working for Rep. Jerry Lewis, a Republican from
Shockey even got a contract from the city of
In 2004 alone, long after he was covered by the one-year, loophole-ridden lobbying ban for former congressional staffers, Shockey made $1.5 million, according to his House financial disclosure form. He helped win at least $150 million in pork for an array of clients at the lobbying firm of Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. As with most successful lobbyists, it no doubt helped that he was tight with committee members and staff. As part of his new career, Shockey and his firm also helped his old boss raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help the GOP keep its majority, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, which first reported on some of Shockey's history late last year. And so, when House Republicans rewarded Lewis, 71, with the Appropriations chairmanship 13 months ago, Shockey was among the handful of trusted former aides whom the affable, silver-haired congressman pressed back into service.
The $160,000 committee post meant an almost 90% pay cut, but Shockey's lobbying firm helped cushion the blow. Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez—where Lewis�s close friend Bill Lowery, a former California congressman, is a partner—gave Shockey a $600,000 going-away buyout, according to Shockey�s financial disclosure form. He was to receive his buyout in three $200,000 payments scheduled for February, May and August 2005—even as he was in his committee post. The firm would also keep Shockey in the family by hiring his wife, Alexandra—another former Lewis aide—as a consulting lobbyist.
Lobbying by spouses is legal if it stays within certain boundaries—staffers are generally not supposed to get their spouses special access—but can be controversial. Lewis spokesman John Scofield referred TIME to attorney William Oldaker, who said he helped Shockey and his wife keep the arrangement legal. Oldaker drafted a letter in which Lewis last May told the House ethics committee Shockey "will not involve himself in any matter in which his spouse is representing a client." The letter did not bar Shockey from work related to his own former clients, but Scofield says Shockey nonetheless informally recuses himself from such activity. Scofield said Alexandra Shockey, also a former Lewis aide, is still free to lobby Lewis himself, and other committee members—and her last name is certainly well known around the panel. The ethics committee, paralyzed last year by a partisan deadlock, never formally blessed the arrangement, Scofield says.
As Lewis took up the gavel in January 2005, Appropriations issued a press release heralding the return of former aides, including Shockey. The release—which disappeared from the committee web site after TIME made inquiries in recent weeks, a move that spokesman Scofield attributed to the tech department—says that "Shockey spent the last six years as a partner in the Washington, D.C.-based firm, Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez, Denton & Shockey." It said Shockey would "assist... with the Committee�s day-today [sic] operations including maintaining a close working relationship between the Committee, the elected leadership, the Budget Committee, and various authorizing committees."
evidence has emerged to suggest that the Shockeys or
Lewis have violated the law. Though a Republican, Shockey
the lobbyist checked his loyalties enough to seek favor with key Democrats to
the tune of $6,750 in campaign contributions. Much of it went to high-profile
Appropriations Democrats—such as $1,000 each to House Minority Leader Nancy
Pelosi; House panel members Patrick Kennedy and John Murtha, who would later lambast President Bush over the
Lewis declined an interview, but gave TIME a statement in which he called Shockey a "fabulously talented individual [with a] long record of principled service." Lewis added that "Jeff and his wife Alex have gone out of their way to make sure they are strictly adhering to both the spirit and the letter of the law." Lewis spokesman Scofield said Shockey and his wife also would not comment. Lowery did not return a phone call.
help of another former Lewis aide who took over some Shockey
accounts at his lobbying firm, many of Shockey's more
than 50 former clients have continued to land tens of millions of dollars in
earmarks, courtesy of the panel Shockey now helps
Lewis run. Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense, which has extensively
researched the Lewis-Shockey web, says, for example,
that the police department in
Copeland, Lowery�s lobbying activity has already attracted unwanted attention. The Justice Department charges that an executive of ADCS, a defense contractor client, provided some of the $2.4 million in illegal gifts to Appropriations Committee member Duke Cunningham, who late last year resigned and pleaded guilty to taking bribes. Scofield, backed by disclosure filings, says Shockey did not lobby for ADCS. In fact, Scofield and Shockey�s attorney, Oldaker, insist Shockey plays no role in earmark decisions.
In recent weeks, Oldaker—also an earmark specialist who was recently dropped as treasurer for the political action committees of several senior Democratic senators, including Minority Leader Harry Reid, after articles drew attention to his lobbying activity—said Shockey has recused himself from any matter involving any of Copeland, Lowery�s 100 or so clients, though they haven�t put it in writing. "We probably, if we'd fast-forwarded to the current time, would have done that" a year ago, Oldaker said, referring to the ethics climate fostered by the Abramoff scandal. What remains to be seen is whether the new attention on the world of lobbying and earmarks leads to lasting reform or just a new p.r. strategy.
Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Saturday, September 9, 2006; 7:54 PM
The Jack Abramoff scandal
has incited predictable outrage among
Such theatrics notwithstanding, don't imagine for a
moment that anything will really change. Lobbying has grown massively in just
the past few years, becoming a multibillion-dollar industry, and it will
continue to expand long after Abramoff is imprisoned
and released. Lobby-law firms, trade associations, interest groups and labor
unions -- known collectively as
Every 10 years or so, reformers have sought to rein in these paid persuaders, but the influence of lobbyists has only expanded. Today, twice as many registered lobbyists -- about 30,000 -- ply their trade than did so just six years ago. And overall spending on federal lobbying has nearly doubled, to $200.2 million per month in 2005 from $116.3 million per month in 1999. By all accounts, business is booming.
One reason behind this growth is the lobbying industry's simple-yet-dazzling economics. For a relatively small investment in a lobbying campaign, corporations can receive a gargantuan return. The Carmen Group Inc., a mid-size firm, has calculated that for every $1 million its clients spend on its services, it delivers, on average, $100 million in government benefits. A yield that immense, common in federal lobbying, is unheard of anyplace else.
At the same time, the size of government has ballooned, and lawmakers have become ever more willing to share the wealth. Federal spending grew by 49 percent from 2000 to 2006, to $2.66 trillion. And an increasing share of that amount was handed out in narrowly focused projects called earmarks, for which an entire sub-industry of lobbyists has emerged. According to the Congressional Research Service, the number of earmarks in appropriations bills alone more than tripled to 15,887 in 2005 from 4,155 in 1994 -- and most of them were shepherded by lobbyists.
Earmarking is not hard work. Lobbyist Jeffrey S. Shockey earned about $2 million from four dozen clients in 2004 and he needed only one associate, people familiar with his operation said. All a lobbyist must do is fill out some forms and write up a short proposal for the money; find a lawmaker (preferably on either the House or Senate appropriations committee) to sponsor the earmark; and make a few follow-up calls during the year to the lawmaker's staffers, nudging them to move the proposal along. In return, lobbyists try to keep their lawmakers happy. Shockey kept in particularly close touch; he is now a top aide to his frequent patron, Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Some companies previously shunned such back-scratching as distasteful -- and paid a heavy price. Microsoft Corp. didn't hire a full-fledged staff of lobbyists or donate heavily to political causes until after the Justice Department sued it for antitrust behavior in 1998. Dozens of corporations learned from Microsoft's mistake and opened their own D.C. offices. In just the past couple of years, Google, Valero Energy Corp., Herbalife International, Walgreens and GoDaddy.com have opened for business in the District. Wal-Mart has also beefed up its presence as Democrats have attacked its business practices. And the hedge fund industry, worried about attracting extra regulation, has tripled the amount it spends on federal lobbyists since 2003, so far to sterling effect.
Government has become so complex that only experts --
say, ex-congressional staff members turned lobbyists -- can decipher and
navigate it. Anyone who wants to penetrate the system has little choice but to
hire lobbying firms. And for good reason:
In turn, lawmakers have come to rely on lobbyists to provide much of their campaign cash, most of the information and voter support that propel their legislative initiatives, and many of the off-hour perks that keep them well-traveled and well-fed. These benefits are so valuable that Congress -- even faced with an ornery, anti-Washington electorate -- is poised to pass, as soon as this week, a sliver of an already weak lobby-reform bill, and discard anything that would limit its contact with lobbyists. Almost no one on Capital Hill wants to discourage the sugar daddies on K.
Lobby groups have become players in virtually everything government does; often, they are the key players. During the first six months of 2005, for example, the AARP (and its $20 million advertising and lobbying blitz) was instrumental in shooting down Bush's plan to add private accounts to Social Security. And this year, a Republican bill that would have combined a minimum-wage increase with a cut in the estate tax was stopped dead by a coalition of labor unions led by UNITE HERE, which publicized a provision in the bill that could have reduced wages for some workers who rely on tips. At least five senators cited the provision as a major reason they voted no.
One bill that did pass this summer updated the
nation's pension and trade laws; like every other piece of legislation, it was
shaped by lobbying. Representatives for Delta and Northwest airlines won
special pension protections to ease their financial woes. And at least 73 imported
products -- such as nail clippers and vicuña hair -- received targeted tariff
relief, virtually all because of pressure from
Despite the latest scandals, lobbying has become a respectable, appealing profession. A couple of decades ago, it was considered too unsavory to attract former Congress members. But now, lobbyists have become so influential -- and so rich -- that more and more lawmakers and their aides consider the profession a second career. A recent study by the liberal group Public Citizen reported that nearly half of all lawmakers who return to the private sector join the lobbying ranks. Former top congressional officials can easily earn $300,000 a year or more as lobbyists -- or about double their government salaries.
Many former lawmakers are proud to be lobbyists and consider themselves part of a vital establishment -- one sometimes known as the Fifth Estate, after the three branches of government and the media. This level of comfort has no doubt made contacts between lobbyists and lawmakers increasingly sympathetic. Why would congressional aides and lawmakers want to anger the lobbyists who approach them when they aspire to become lobbyists themselves?
Former congressman Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.) remembers fondly when he was looking for work as a lobbyist in 1998 and interviewed at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. "It was such a pleasure," he said. He sat down with senior partner Robert S. Strauss, who told him, "Bill, we're not in this for the short term. We want to hire people who will offer quality advice to quality clients for a long period of time." And, Paxon said, "that's proven true." He has been a senior adviser at the firm since 1999. He is also part of a lobbying family; Paxon's wife, former congresswoman Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.), is chairman of a firm named the Washington Group.
As Paxon discovered, lobby
companies and associations are built to last. Akin Gump and most other
"Lobbyist-bashing may provide some convenient
sound bites this fall, but it doesn't have much of a connection to the way
Such connections are hard, if not impossible, to break. "For the more than 30 years I've been around here, people have always complained about lobbyists," said Wright H. Andrews Jr. of the lobbying firm Butera & Andrews. "But they don't understand. My own mother didn't understand. She cried when I told her what I was going to do." But he explained, "After people have been here a while, they find out that the lobbying community is an essential part of the legislative process."
Joel Jankowsky knows this firsthand. He left the staff of House Speaker Carl B. Albert in 1977 and became the first official lobbyist at Akin Gump. Now, nearly 30 years later, Jankowsky oversees 45 full-time lobbyists and a dozen other professionals who plead before government regularly. He and his colleagues serve 161 clients and generate nearly $30 million in annual revenue. His once-rare transition from top congressional aide to private lobbyist has become common, and his firm's practice continues to bloom.
After the midterm elections, Jankowsky predicts, the lobbying industry will get even busier and grow larger -- no matter which party prevails. History says he's right.
Jeffrey H. Birnbaum covers
lobbying and politics for The
© 2006 The Washington Post Company
An Educational Trip
In 2000, an Indian tribe and a
gambling services company sent $50,000 in checks to a
August 5, 2007
Eight months after Democrats vowed to shine light on the dark art of “earmarking” money for pet projects, many lawmakers say the new visibility has only intensified the competition for projects by letting each member see exactly how many everyone else is receiving.
So far this year, House lawmakers have put together spending bills that include almost 6,500 earmarks for almost $11 billion in local projects, only half of which the Bush administration supported.
The earmark frenzy hit fever pitch in recent days, even as the Senate passed new rules that allow more public scrutiny of them.
Far from causing embarrassment, the new transparency has raised the value of earmarks as a measure of members’ clout. Indeed, lawmakers have often competed to have their names attached to individual earmarks and rushed to put out press releases claiming credit for the money they bring home.
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has obtained about
$63 million worth of projects, most of them in or near her district in
To be sure, the Democratic totals are less than half the record set by Republicans when they controlled Congress in 2005, but they are far higher than the levels just 10 years ago.
Among the thousands of earmarks tucked into House or Senate spending bills: $2.6 million for a new grape genetics research center at Cornell University; $738,000 to study cancer-fighting chemicals in raspberries at Ohio State University; a contract for Texas A&M University to study the “root causes” of post-traumatic stress disorder; and $3.6 million to design a Coast Guard Operations Systems Center in Kearneysville, W.Va.
Aside from the risk of spending money on projects only because they make political sense, critics warn that earmarks fritter away significant parts of Congressional time and make it harder for government agencies to focus on long-term goals. They have also become a tool for bargaining in Congress, offered to persuade lawmakers to vote against their own judgment on other issues.
When Representative Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, recently
ridiculed a provision on the House floor to spend $100,000 on a prison museum
“The local residents are proud of their heritage, and rightly so,” Ms. Boyda told Mr. Flake during a debate on the House floor. The House voted 317 to 112 to keep her earmark.
Mr. Flake met similar defeat trying to block $50,000 for the National Mule and Packers Museum in Bishop, Calif.; $150,000 for the Burpee Museum of natural history in Rockford, Ill.; $250,000 for the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser, Wash.; and $750,000 for the Alliance for NanoHealth in Houston.
“Everybody hates earmarks, but everybody loves earmarks,” said Representative José E. Serrano, a New York Democrat and chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on financial services.
“What’s happened is that the system is more open to the public, to the press and indeed to other members,” Mr. Serrano said. “Of course, when it becomes open to other members, everybody looks around and says, ‘Oh, I could have gotten that for myself.’ ”
It was not supposed to turn out this way. Last year, Democrats
denounced the explosive growth of earmarks as a central part of what they
called the “culture of corruption” under the Republican-led Congress. They
skewered the infamous $200 million “bridge to nowhere” that Senator Ted Stevens, Republican of Alaska,
had tried to finance. Just this week, federal investigators searched Mr.
Stevens’s house in
Last year’s outcry against earmarks was fueled in part by scandals surrounding Jack Abramoff, the disgraced former lobbyist. The concerns were heightened by the conviction of Representative Randy Cunningham on charges of taking millions of dollars in cash and gifts in exchange for inserting earmarks for a military contractor.
Ms. Pelosi never called for eliminating earmarks. Instead, she and other Democratic leaders sought to make the process open to more public scrutiny.
By any measure, the volume of earmarks in spending bills has exploded in the past decade, from about 3,000 in 1996 to almost 16,000 in 2005.
“Earmarks aren’t inherently evil,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonprofit research group that monitors them closely. “But they have grown to such an extent that there hasn’t really been any oversight.”
But even critics acknowledge that the Democrats have made the system less secretive and slightly less of a free-for-all.
Under rules the House adopted this year, all earmarks in a bill are supposed to be collected onto a single list in the report that accompanies the bill. Lawmakers must also file a “certification” that attaches their name to a proposed project, discloses the organization that will receive the money and declares that neither the lawmakers nor their spouses has a financial stake in it.
In practice, the disclosures can be difficult to read and incomplete. In addition, the certifications only declare that lawmakers and their spouses have no financial conflict; they are silent about financial ties that other relatives may have.
Some Republicans have scorned the changes as inadequate. “We’re lying to the American people when we say we’re fixing earmarks when we’re not,” said Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, during debate this week on the Senate floor.
But Democrats respond that the changes are a big improvement.
“This is just sour milk,” Senator Dianne Feinstein of
As in the past, a big percentage of earmarks this year went to the House leadership, including Speaker Pelosi, according to calculations by The New York Times and based on records assembled by Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Continuing another longtime practice of Republicans and Democrats alike, a disproportionate share of projects went to the so-called cardinals who chair each of the appropriation subcommittees.
Many lawmakers say the increased openness has put the cardinals, like Mr. Murtha, in an awkward position. Because everyone can see who is receiving what, rank-and-file members are clamoring for their districts to obtain a bigger share of the goodies. Similarly, constituents in home districts are becoming bolder as the earmarking process becomes less mysterious.
“Democracy is a contact sport, and I’m not going to be shy about
asking for money for my community,” said Ms. Boyda of
All of it is causing heartburn for Representative David R. Obey of
Even some enthusiastic supporters of earmarks have been taken aback by the flood of requests from lawmakers.
Mr. Serrano, the subcommittee chairman, said he was stumped on how to decide among requests from more than 100 lawmakers.
Instead of trying to weigh one project against another, he said, he identified all the projects that appeared suitable and then split the money so that each lawmaker received $231,000 in earmarks from his subcommittee.
“It was the fairest approach I could take,” Mr. Serrano said. “The jury is still out on whether this is the right approach. I’m not saying I will do it again next year.”
Culture Shock on Capitol Hill: House to Work 5 Days a Week
Wednesday, December 6, 2006; A01
Forget the minimum wage. Or outsourcing jobs overseas. The labor issue most on the minds of members of Congress yesterday was their own: They will have to work five days a week starting in January.
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the Maryland Democrat who will become House majority leader and is writing the schedule for the next Congress, said members should expect longer hours than the brief week they have grown accustomed to.
"I have bad news for you," Hoyer told reporters. "Those trips you had planned in January, forget 'em. We will be working almost every day in January, starting with the 4th."
The reporters groaned. "I know, it's awful, isn't it?" Hoyer empathized.
For lawmakers, it is awful, compared with what they have come to expect. For much of this election year, the legislative week started late Tuesday and ended by Thursday afternoon -- and that was during the relatively few weeks the House wasn't in recess.
Next year, members of the House will be expected in the Capitol for votes each week by 6:30 p.m. Monday and will finish their business about 2 p.m. Friday, Hoyer said.
With the new calendar, the Democrats are trying to project a businesslike image when they take control of Congress in January. House and Senate Democratic leaders have announced an ambitious agenda for their first 100 hours and say they are adamant about scoring legislative victories they can trumpet in the 2008 campaigns.
Hoyer and other Democratic leaders say they are trying to repair the image of Congress, which was so anemic this year it could not meet a basic duty: to approve spending bills that fund government. By the time the gavel comes down on the 109th Congress on Friday, members will have worked a total of 103 days. That's seven days fewer than the infamous "Do-Nothing Congress" of 1948.
Hoyer said members can bid farewell to extended holidays, the kind that awarded them six weekdays to relax around Memorial Day, when most Americans get a single day off. He didn't mention the month-long August recess, the two-week April recess or the weeks off in February, March and July.
He said members need to spend more time in the Capitol to pass laws and oversee federal agencies. "We are going to meet sufficient times, so the committees can do their jobs on behalf of the American people," he said.
For lawmakers within a reasonable commute of
"Keeping us up here eats away at families," said Rep. Jack
Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on
Thursdays and returns to
Time away from
Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.), who had intended to retire this year, only to be persuaded to run again, wondered whether the new schedule was more than symbolic. "If we're doing something truly productive, that's one thing," he said. "If it's smoke-and-mirrors hoopla, that's another."
Senate leaders have not set their schedule, but the upper chamber generally works a longer week than the House, though important votes or hearings are usually not scheduled on Mondays or Fridays.
House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), one of the architects of the lighter workweek, put the best Republican face on Hoyer's new schedule.
"They've got a lot more freshmen then we do," he said of the Democrats. "That schedule will make it incredibly difficult for those freshmen to establish themselves in their districts. So we're all for it."
The new schedule poses a headache for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who runs her 7-year-old daughter's Brownie troop meetings on Monday afternoons in Weston, Fla. "I'll have to talk to the other mothers and see if we can move it to the weekend," she said.
Setting a calendar that satisfies 435 members is impossible, said the current majority leader, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who will become minority leader in January. "Between the travel issues, the members' work schedules, the family and district issues, it was a Rubik's cube," he said.
But most Democrats, some still giddy from their election victories, seemed game.
"It's long overdue," said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), who lives in Napa Valley and will have to leave his home at 3 a.m. on Sundays to catch a flight to Washington in time for work Mondays. "I didn't come here to turn around and go back home."
Staff writer Jonathan Weisman contributed to this report.
From 1998 to mid-2004, lobbyists spent $13 billion trying to influence members of Congress and federal officials. The top spenders:
Has the Senate Marathon Seen Its Day?
Sunday, January 16, 2005; Page B01
In the climax of Frank Capra's 1939 paean to democracy, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," Sen. Jefferson Smith holds the Senate floor for nearly 24 hours, reading the Senate Manual and the Declaration of Independence through the night -- one lone, decent man using a filibuster to stand up for the little guy against the power of his home state's avaricious political machine and its business cronies.
If Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist were to direct a remake today of Capra's movie, there'd be a little rewrite. Instead of the earnest Jimmy Stewart, he might cast a sinister-looking Willem Dafoe or an unctuous Susan Sarandon as Sen. Smith -- an obstructionist liberal abusing his or her right to unlimited debate to block a good, decent, God-fearing conservative judicial nominee (Tom Hanks or Harrison Ford? Have your people call my people).
For more than two centuries, lawmakers of all stripes have used filibusters to stop legislation or a nomination when they do not have the votes to defeat it outright. A senator, or a group of senators, holds the floor and "debates" the issue, making clear that he will not yield the floor to allow a yes-or-no vote until hell freezes over.
While it takes 51 votes to approve legislation or confirm a nomination, Senate rules require 60 votes to bust a filibuster by limiting debate. So a filibuster allows 41 senators to take the entire process hostage (the word actually comes from a Dutch term for pirates who held ships for ransom) in hopes of forcing the majority to drop or modify a measure or withdraw a nomination. It allows a determined minority to thwart the will of the majority.
So far, Senate Democrats have used filibusters to block 10 of President Bush's 229 judicial nominations. And the stakes are getting higher as Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist's thyroid cancer seems to bring his retirement closer. Now, Frist wants to limit the use of the technique, saying the Democrats' filibusters against the president's judicial nominees are "a formula for tyranny by the minority." (Never mind that such political philosophers as John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville said that a "tyranny of the majority" was one of democracy's greatest potential pitfalls.)
Filibusters, like the fictional one in "Mr.
Smith," used to be grand spectacles. Capra and Stewart likely took
At one point, Long, noticing that some of his colleagues were dozing at their desks, asked Vice President John Nance Garner, who was presiding, to instruct them to pay attention. "That would be unusual cruelty under the Constitution," Garner replied.
At 4 a.m., after 15 hours and 30 minutes, Long yielded the floor -- forced to answer nature's irresistible call.
That performance is not the record, not by a long
shot. That distinction goes to the late Sen. Strom Thurmond of
Armed with reading material, malted milk tablets and
throat lozenges, Thurmond was recognized at 8:54 p.m. on Aug. 28. "Mr.
President," he said, "I rise to speak against the so-called voting
rights bill, H.R. 6127." In the following hours, he read aloud the voting
statutes of every state, as well as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill
of Rights and
After 12 hours, Sen. Paul Douglas of
Several hours later, the Senate physician urged
Thurmond to stop -- a medical directive sought by the senator's concerned aides
-- and he finally yielded the floor at 9:112 p.m. on Aug. 29 with the
superfluous closing statement: "I expect to vote against the bill."
He had beaten the previous record, set by Sen. Wayne Morse of
Since then, some senators' speeches have only seemed that long to reporters sitting in the press gallery.
In giving the minority a weapon to defend its rights, filibusters (which are allowed only in the Senate) have a practical effect on legislation in Congress. Because it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster, there's a premium on consensus-building. Senators need to write bills that will win broad support. And a president tends to pick judicial nominees moderate enough to advance his policy goals without polarizing lawmakers. Neither party has had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate since 1980, one reason why there tends to be more bipartisanship there than in the House, where only a simple majority is needed to conduct business.
Given the congressional workload, there are almost always more bills ready for Senate floor action than there is time to consider them. Especially during the end-of-session crunch, this means that leaders are much less likely to call up contentious bills that face a filibuster threat. Unless those measures absolutely need to be passed, they usually have to wait for another year.
It's often said that the tradition of unlimited debate in the Senate -- "the world's greatest deliberative body," as its members modestly call it -- has its roots in the founding fathers' design for the House of Representatives to be the forge of democracy and the Senate, to use Benjamin Franklin's oft-quoted aphorism, to be the saucer that cools the hot coffee.
But in the early days of Congress, House members also had the filibuster in their bag of legislative tricks. As the body grew in size to match the growing nation, though, House rules were changed to limit debate.
The absolute right to talk (and talk and talk . . .
and talk) continued in the Senate until 1917. President Woodrow Wilson,
frustrated by filibusters that blocked key initiatives, used World War I, and
the urgent question of whether the
Until 1949, though, Rule 22 applied only to legislation -- filibusters against nominations could not be cut off. Between that year and 2003, according to Senate records, a filibuster successfully blocked a judicial nomination only once: In 1968, with the presidential election drawing near, conservative senators filibustered President Lyndon B. Johnson's nomination of Supreme Court Associate Justice Abe Fortas to be chief justice. After an attempt to invoke cloture was defeated, Johnson withdrew the nomination.
For decades, filibusters were rare and rarely failed, reserved for the biggest national issues, notably Southerners bent on defeating civil rights legislation in the 1950s and early 1960s. That began to change in the 1970s, when then-Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, a Montana Democrat, and Majority Whip Robert Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat, started the practice of having more than one bill pending on the floor at once, which is still the way the Senate operates today.
Before, with only one bill under consideration at a time, a filibuster would stop all business dead in its tracks. Now, with two measures moving at once, the leadership can simply set aside the controversial bill and continue to work on the other. That sidetracked bill may languish in legislative limbo, but it does not tie the Senate up in knots and other business goes forward.
Because the consequences are much less severe now,
filibusters are used much more frequently -- and against routine bills. Former
Republican senator Alfonse D'Amato of
But they aren't your father's -- or grandfather's -- filibusters. No more senators on their feet, holding the floor, refusing to yield while hoarsely reading recipes into the record around the clock. No more cots in the cloakrooms and bleary-eyed senators in bathrobes on the Senate floor. Now, it can just be an avalanche of amendments offered -- or even just the threat of a filibuster -- that can hold up a final vote on a bill and, eventually, kill it.
Byrd, who knows a thing or two about filibusters, having participated in them to block civil rights legislation in the 1960s, has called this new version a "casual, gentlemanly, good-guy filibuster. . . . Everybody goes home and gets a good night's sleep and everybody protects everybody else." It was just such a filibuster that Senate Republicans used to scuttle elements of President Bill Clinton's economic stimulus package in 1993.
Majority Leader Frist is threatening to use an obscure parliamentary maneuver -- dubbed by some "the nuclear option" -- to change Senate rules and forbid filibusters against judicial nominees.
Former Republican representative Jack Kemp of
Break out the cots.
And hold the orange juice.
Futility Is the Norm Among
Bills Introduced in Congress
Lawmakers Face Long Odds, but 'What's It Hurt to Try?'
States News Service
Friday, November 26, 2004; Page A37
At the dawn of 2005, legislation by Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) to cede the nation's capital back to
If these and the thousands of other ideas proposed each year by members of Congress went the distance, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) would stop the federal government from interfering with the right of states to allow the medicinal use of marijuana. And Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) would establish a Department of Peace.
Calendars would recognize National Transparency Day, National Weatherization Day, National Asbestos Awareness Day and, importantly for equine lovers and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), National Day of the Horse.
They are destined for the same fate: They will expire at midnight Dec. 31.
Then, perhaps within weeks, some will have new hope -- at least temporarily -- as they are reintroduced in the 109th Congress.
When you are one of 435 members of the House, it is important for the folks back home to see the spirited push of your annual legislative agenda, which means the introduction, to great fanfare, of all sorts of bills and resolutions. About 96 percent of them end up in the congressional recycling bin.
"What's it hurt to try? It's a matter of writing and having the bill printed," Regula said. "Members like to represent their areas. They like to put their ideas out there. They want to be identified as having promoted things that they feel are good for those that they represent."
Since Jan. 1, 2003, 10,472 bills and resolutions were introduced -- 6,842 in the House and 3,630 in the Senate. By Nov. 1, only 122 Senate bills and 292 House bills, or 4 percent, had become law.
By the numbers, though, congressional activity in this session was far from record-setting. Congresses of the 1960s and 1970s routinely saw the introduction of 15,000 to 20,000 bills and resolutions. The 91st Congress (1969 to 1970) recorded the all-time high, with the introduction of 21,544 bills and resolutions, according to the Library of Congress, which began tracking such activity in 1947.
Beginning in 1977 and in most years since, Regula has introduced legislation to retain the name of
"Almost all bills are going no place," said Stephen Hess, senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution. "So then the question is, why introduce them? Do you think that lightning will really strike? You do it for the modest publicity you get for it; you do it because you believe in it, one hopes. You do it perhaps because you promised your constituency that you would."
Regula's push to give most of the District back to
First introduced in 1990 and reintroduced six times, the Regula bill has sat in committee.
"I don't think it's going to move now," Regula said. "I think the time may come when it will."
In the previous two-year session, Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D-N.J.) set the record for introducing the most bills and resolutions -- 117. Not one of those bills or resolutiions has made it beyond the committee level. In 14 years, his unsuccessful campaign opponent pointed out, Andrews has never introduced a bill that became public law. While that fact means his bills have failed, it has not necessarily doomed his ideas.
"Our strategy is not to call a press conference and try to get 200 co-sponsors," Andrews said. "They get introduced and we find larger vehicles to attach them onto. . . . We don't introduce stuff unless we think we're going to do it."
He points out that one of his bills, dubbed Maggie's
Law, would have provided incentives for states to create traffic safety
programs to reduce fatigue-related collisions. Prompted by the case of a tired
driver who struck and killed a 20-year-old woman in
By itself, the proposal was indefinitely stalled. Andrews, spotting this year's bill to fund highway construction, found a way to attach his measure to it. When Congress takes up highway construction next year, Andrews expects Maggie's Law to remain part of it. It will become someone else's law, but it will become law.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company