Congressional Committee Questionnaire

Congressional Committee Questionnaire

Committees are where the real work of the legislature takes place

1. What are some things that happen in committee hearings?

2. What kinds of people testify about bills?

3. What powers do congressional committees have?

4. How are committee members selected and who selects them?

5. What advantages does the majority party have in committees?

6. How important are committees in the legislative process?

7. How open and transparent is this process?

8. Is this a good way to make laws?

9. How are jobs on subcommittees assigned?

10. As your role play Representative, list the top 3 committees you would chose to be on.






Congressional Committees
Types of Committees
· Authorizing Committees – pass laws to tell Congress what to do.
· Appropriation Committees – make decisions about how much money government will spent on its programs and operations,
· Rules Committees – make rules for their chambers (House rules is most important)
· Revenue and Budget committees – Raise the money appropriating committees spend, while shaping the outline of the budget.


Power Committees

1) The House Rules Committee is perhaps the most powerful committee in Congress because it determines the length of floor debate for a bill, whether it can be amended (Open) or not (Closed), and they can delay the consideration of any bill.

2) The House Ways and Means Committee is the other most powerful committee in Congress because it both raises money and spends it. It is responsible for writing tax law and spending Social Security and Medicare.

Members of the Ways and Means Committee cannot serve on any other House Committees. The Committee has jurisdiction over all taxation, tariffs and other revenue-raising measures, as well as a number of other programs including:
Major issues that have gone through this committee including welfare reform, a Medicare prescription drug benefit, Social Security reform, President George W. Bush's tax cuts, and all trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Second, given the wide array of interests that are affected by the committee, a seat makes it very easy to collect campaign contributions.

3) The Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate are widely recognized by political scientists as some of the most powerful committees since they decide how much and on what the government spends. Openings on the Appropriations committee are often hotly demanded, and are doled out as rewards. It is one of the exclusive committees of the House, meaning its members typically sit on no other committee. Much of the power of the committee comes from the power to decide on spending. Its subcommittee chairmen are often called "Cardinals" because of the power they wield over the budget.

Subcommittees include: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor, Legislative Branch, Military, State, Transportation.

4) The U.S. House Budget Committee, is a very powerful standing committee because they are responsible for overseeing the annual budgetary process. They draft the “budget resolution”, setting overall spending levels for the next year’s budget by April 15.

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