Examine the Decision making process in Congress. How do you explain the results that emerge from this process?

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Examine the Decision making process in Congress. How do you explain the results that emerge from this process? One of the most important responsibilities a Member of Congress has is to vote. Members are called upon hundreds of times a year to cast a yea or nay on a wide selection of bills, motions, and amendments. Votes on floor amendments refine policy proposals reported from congressional committees. Votes on procedural motions may decide whether a specific issue is even debated. Votes on final passage lead to new laws for the nation. Members take voting very seriously the overall average rate of participation for Members in the last few Congress has been 95% of all votes held. In 1998, sixteen Senators and nine Representatives had perfect scores, registering 100% participation. The questions Members are asked to decide include all the contemporary issues of the day gun control, school safety, abortion rights, education assistance, environmental programs, social security reform, Medicare costs, trade with China and many more. Laws may be initiated in either chamber of Congress, the House of Representatives or the Senate. For an example of how a law is made in the US I am going to start with a bill created in the House of Representatives. When a Representative has an idea for a new law, s/he becomes the sponsor of that bill and introduces it by giving it to the clerk of the House or by placing it in a box, called the hopper.


The way in which decisions are made is also very important. The party line in America is not as concrete as it is in the British political system. The congressmen in America are more free to vote on what bills they want to. They also vote more regularly on the oppositions bills. Therefore a democrat can and will vote for a republicans bills. The result of the vote depends on what the issue is, this can swing either way as the issues change on a day to day basis. Coalitions form and deform on certain issues thus meaning that a party can never be sure as whether a bill will pass the congress vote or not. When there is no strong opposition from the constituency to the Presidents policy the congressmen will often follow the line of the party. However, if there is strong feeling from the constituency then The congressmen will put his constituency first and party loyalty last. This is also good for the party image, the party do not want to be seen as the party that tells its members how to vote a certain way. This therefore gives the electorate who voted in the congressmen in a feeling that they have some control over the decision making process. In a way this system is good, because it allows the congressmen to vote the way in which he/she feels is right by them and by the constituents who have put them into power.


Virtually every Member of Congress goes home several times a month to meet with constituents, seeking them out at public events, holding open office hours and town meetings, visiting shopping centres and other community centres. They closely follow public opinion surveys, and often undertake polling of their own constituents. Members are keenly aware that they have a responsibility to reflect the viewpoint of a majority of their constituents in their work in Washington, and that if they fail to read the pulse of public opinion in their District or State accurately, a majority of the voters in that area will find someone else in the next election who does. The factors which influence a Member's voting decisions are not a matter of science but of individual and varied circumstances. There is no neat, mechanical formula that is followed nor can a computer model predict the thought process a Member goes through in arriving at a vote. No single factor is the most important across-the-board for all Members on all issues. Policy arguments do not always persuade. Political pressures are often withstood. Campaign contributions are not always rewarded. Public opinion is always gauged but not always followed. Members consult their consciences, but sometimes cede to the majority perspective. The decision-making process that precedes casting a vote is often lengthy and complex and known fully only to the Member going through it. And as they vote, each Member knows that in our democracy they alone will be held accountable for the decision they are about to make.

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