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PS365 - The Legislative Process - Spring 2007
Professor Russell Renka

PS365 - The Legislative Process in the U.S. 
Spring 2007 (Course no. 21861)
TR 11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Classroom:  Carnahan Hall 210
Office Phone: (573) 651-2692
FAX: (573) 651-2695
Professor Russell D. Renka
Home URL:  cstl-cla.semo.edu/renka/
Office Hours: MWF 10:00-11:00 a.m., TR 1:00-1:50 p.m.
Office Locale:  Carnahan 211L
E-mail:  rdrenka@semo.edu
Course URL: cstl-cla.semo.edu/renka/PS365/Spring2007/index.htm

PS365 Syllabus Sections:
    ° Course Coverage
    ° Online Instructor Suite
    ° Course Readings and Resources
    ° Standards of Conduct
    ° Course Examinations and Papers
    ° Weekly Reading and Examination Itinerary


PS365 Course Coverage - Spring 2007:         Top; Next Down

   The U.S. Congress is one of the preeminent political institutions in the democratic world.  It is also one of the oldest, dating from 1789; we're now in the 109th Congress, each being two years or sessions in length.  It is unusual among democracies for being truly bicameral with equal power in both houses (U.S. House of Representatives at www.house.gov; U.S. Senate at www.senate.gov).  The Framers in 1787 spent the majority of their time and effort on fashioning this institution in the U.S. Constitution's Article I (see also:  U.S. House of Representatives, Educational Links at www.house.gov/house/Educate.shtml).  This course concentrates on that institution, showing how Congress and its Members work.  It's an ongoing experiment in running a powerful and independent legislature that displays democratic politics with nearly unique clarity.  But many Americans dislike politics, and the Congress is often a special target of that sentiment.  Its right and capacity to govern are under serious challenge.

    We also pay mind to state legislatures, especially as interesting comparisons to the national one.  The Missouri General Assembly (www.moga.mo.gov) is in session this Spring of 2007 in Jefferson City.

   The national Congress has two faces.  One is Members of Congress at home and on the campaign trail, constantly traveling home, doing 'district work sessions', providing services to constituents, and appearing on local media. The other is Congress in session on Capitol Hill with committee hearings, parliamentary maneuvers, floor debate and voting, vote trades, small and large insiders' intrigues, arguments on national media about major policy, fights over presidential Cabinet nominations, and even impeachment proceedings. Understanding this Congress in session requires that we understand Members of Congress in their districts or states.

    So we look first at 'home style' as a key to legislators' careers.  Congressmen and Senators are above all products of their districts and states.  We see how relations at home are established and kept up, why incumbents win reelection so often, how pork barrel works, why PAC money flows almost entirely to incumbents, and how local media access operates.  Members of Congress closely reflect their districts.  Changed districts have undercut conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans since the 1980s to create today's highly partisan and confrontational Congress. 

    But it isn't clear that Congress can operate indefinitely through such strong partisanship.  Today Congress on the House of Representatives side has "conditional party leadership" which tries to practice strict party governance in the peculiarly American bicameral, separated-powers, non-parliamentary context.  Party division dominated the 1998-1999 presidential impeachment proceeding.  It is comparably dominant elsewhere, in committees and on the floor, in the rules, and most of all, in the epic budget face-off of winter 1995-96 in the 104th Congress between its House Republican majority and the Democratic president.  But the Senate is resistant to such partisan dominion, as we shall see.  So is the President on many an occasion.  And we shall see why, with spatial analysis that has become elemental to understanding this institution.

    Congressional scholar Morris Fiorina says Congress is "the keystone of the Washington Establishment."  The institution indeed is very powerful.  But it is often very parochial as well.  This exposes Congress to severe public disdain as an institution even while the voting public typically demands this same behavior as the price of having a reasonably long congressional career.  We consider how often Congress will "do the right thing", why the floor rules are so critical to ultimate outcomes (such as House impeachment of President Clinton in December 1998), what floor voting reveals about congressional policymaking, and how Congress deals with the other important power centers in Washington and the nation.  All along, we consider proposed reforms:  What would happen if term limitations or other anti-Congress actions take hold?  Why is authentic debate and deliberation so rare in modern Congresses?  What's responsible for the climate of surliness and incivility in the House of Representatives?  And we summarize by considering what future the Congress has.

Online Instructor Suite (OIS) - Spring 2007:              Top; Next Down

    OIS is run by Center for Scholarship in Teaching and Learning.  OIS gives you access to a class bulletin board (Forum), locale to post for posting papers and assignments (Drop Box), and personal grade and assignment record (Gradebook).  You'll also see a couple of Sample Tests done via UTest.  I'll use your Southeast e-mail address to communicate with you, so be sure to check it regularly.

PS365 Course Readings and Resources - Spring 2007:                Top; Next Down

    Stewart, Charles III.  2001.  Analyzing Congress.  New York:  W.W. Norton & Company.  Website:  Stewart's Introduction to Congressional Politics at URL www.mit.edu/~17.251.
    Dodd, Lawrence C. and Bruce I. Oppenheimer, eds.  2004.  Congress Reconsidered, 8th ed.  Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press.  Website:  CQ Press Book Congress Reconsidered, 8th Edition, Book, Books, Bruce I. Oppenheimer, Lawrence C. Dodd.
    Jacobson, Gary C.  2004.  The Politics of Congressional Elections, 6th ed.  New York: Longman Classics in Political Science.  Website location:  The Politics of Congressional Elections.  Note:  My colleague Karen Hult from Virginia Tech has published a Jacobson reading guide on the 5th edition from 2001.  It helps with the 6th edition too.
    The Stewart text is in Textbook Service; the others are at Southeast Bookstore.  Or Amazon for Jacobson:  http://www.amazon.com/Politics-Congressional-Elections-Longman-Classics/dp/0321100409; and Dodd and Oppenheimer:  http://www.amazon.com/Congress-Reconsidered-Lawrence-C-Dodd/dp/1568028598.
     I will expect you to regularly read The Hill:  The Newspaper for and about the U.S. Congress for periodic information and discussion to keep up with the doings of this First Session of the 108th Congress.  I will periodically discuss these articles in class and draw exam questions partially or entirely based upon them.
    Congressional Quarterly Weekly:  1) go to Kent Library Homepage; 2) click on top link on the page at "Find - articles, newspapers ..." ; 3) Note bottom of page and hit "Full text - Available in Databases"; 4) now at Fulltext Magazine Search, write in "CQ"; and 5) you'll see four entries for CQ Weekly, so go to the "Military Full Text" option and click on "connect to database"; and 6) specify the article or article category you want.  Note:  if unsure how to do step 6, just scan the articles in the CQ Weekly issues on Kent L's stacks, note the article titles, and enter those.
    Other resources:
Congressional Quarterly Weekly
- http://library.cqpress.com/index.php and click on CQ Weekly (subscribers only)
National Journal
at nationaljournal.com
Almanac of American Politics at nationaljournal.com/pubs/almanac (subscribers only)
U.S. House of Representatives at www.house.gov/Welcome.shtml
U.S. Senate at www.senate.gov/index.htm
State of Missouri's General Assembly at www.moga.mo.gov
Real Clear Politics at www.realclearpolitics.com/
Mark Blumenthal's Mystery Pollster at www.pollster.com/mystery_pollster/; Charles Franklin at www.pollster.com/charles_franklin/; and www.Pollster.com/blogs/
New York Times at www.nytimes.com

PS365 -Standards of Conduct - Spring 2007:                   Top; Next Down

    This section refers to disabilities, class attendance, cell phones, guns and knives, personal disruptions, cheating, plagiarism, and paper citations.  Some of this isn't fun for me to say or you to read, but it's all important.  I ask every student to carefully read this section.  Once classes commence, I'll assume you have read this and are responsible for heeding it.

    Any student with a disability that may require special accommodation should contact me about that as soon as the need is recognized.  I will take all reasonable measures to assist you so long as they're within the law and not an undue burden on me or on other students.  Experience shows that many special needs can readily be met, but only if I know about them.  So please visit with me about that.  I'll hold our discussion in strict confidence and will do what I can.

    Good students regularly attend classes, while poor ones often don't.  You're expected to attend all regularly scheduled classes within reasonable time of their start.  Each session you'll have a sign-in sheet based on your classroom seat.  I use those to call names and make queries.  I keep an open door as a rule and do understand delays on entry due to other classes, inclement weather, and gossip time; but be reasonable and don't plan on habitual late entry.   If you know you'll need to leave a class early, just advise me in advance of that.  If it's sudden and necessary to leave, then do so but let me know next time what's happened.

    Cell phones may also attend my classes, but ONLY when turned off.  Should one somehow manage to ring anyway, please silence it immediately and avoid any repeat misbehavior by the offending implement.  If you must be on phone alert, use only its visual signaler for that purpose.

    Weapons may not attend any of my classes.  The State of Missouri passed a 'concealed carry' gun statute in 2003, leaving many unanswered questions on when and where it's permissible to pack concealed heat.  My rule is very simple:  no firearms of any kind are permitted in any of my classes, or in my office, under any circumstances.  Should there be a violation, I will not confront the offender.  Instead I will contact the university's legal authorities and have them press action to ensure that the offender may not continue this practice.  There are no exceptions to this rule unless the student is:  a) a law enforcement authority authorized to carry a gun in the normal performance of duties, and b) this student gets my advance clearance to carry in class.  Note:  None of this refers to minor weapons such as Swiss Army knives, Gerber tools, nail files, or the like.  I refer to guns.

    I've never had a seriously disruptive student in a class, but hear from others that some problems exist along this line.  If someone is seriously disruptive during class in such manner as makes you or others uncomfortable with being there, please advise me of that.  We have lively conversations that address politics, so I don't refer to strongly worded opinions.  I mean personal behavior that seriously offends you or others; that might include sexual harassment.  My policy is to directly ask the party to cease the offending behavior.  Should that fail, then I bring the university legal authority in to resolve the issue.  I can't be more specific than that, for the moment.

    I can be very specific about cheating.  See Southeast's Academic Honesty brochure on this subject.  I had a certain nasty little cheater in 2003, haven't forgotten that, and have since studied some methods for catching and docking offenders.  If a student cheats on an assignment, it's an automatic zero grade on that work.  If there's evidence of cheating on more than one assignment, it's a zero on each affected assignment.  Once I have documented evidence, then I first confront the offender to elicit an explanation of the behavior, after which I file a report with the Department chair.  If I catch the evidence post hoc and cannot confront the offender, I proceed directly to the report.

    Plagiarism is a common form of cheating and a chronic plague of the academic community.  It refers, of course, to someone taking the work of others and passing it off as his or her own.  It can be as simple as taking a quotation and failing to show it properly, to lifting an entire piece verbatim and pasting it to one's own paper or exam.  The common element of this noxious practice is always the same, namely that of falsely claiming for oneself that which another person has created.  In the commercial world, plagiarism brings lawsuits for copyright violation.  In the academic world, it brings verdicts of both moral and academic failure on the offender.  For insight on what it is, see the Academic Honesty brochure or Professor Hamner Hill's Policy on Plagiarism.  Each has helpful links.

    I do not tolerate plagiarism.  I check for it--and know from bitter experience and plenty of web-smarts how to find it.  If the plagiarism is intentional, I report that as a violation of the University's academic integrity policy while assigning that paper or exam an irreversible grade of zero.  If it is not, I return the paper without a grade to its creator for immediate and thorough correction.

    The best method of avoiding plagiarism is to acquire the habit of properly citing your source material as you go along.  I do so above on the listed books for this course.  The books do so as well.  I do not stipulate a particular source guide, but will expect you to cite one in your References section of any term paper.  See Kent Library's final touches - tools for citing sources for proper use of MLA, APA, Chicago Style, and others.  I usually employ APA myself, but any of them are fine.  The core rule is really very simple:  cite your stuff so that anyone who reads your paper can easily track its sources.  Give full citation to all sources, including names of all authors, the book/article/website file name or name and position of an interviewee, and all publication information (publisher's location, publisher's name, year of pub, volume and issue of journal, URL of a website plus date of its access).  If you got specific information from one page of a 900-page tome, do the reader the courtesy of citing that page so they can avoid poring through 899 superfluous pages.  Simple as that.

    Websites are a special problem for proper citation.  Please do not cite a URL alone, as URLs are frequently changed.  If I cannot find your URL, then it won't count as a source.  Cite the author, the filename, the URL, and the date or dates of access.  Filenames are easily acquired from Google, or just take the article's self-assigned title at its heading.  A general guide on separating good from crappy websites is Evaluating Websites from Donnelley and Lee Library in Chicago.  On use of blogs:  better establish why it is authoritative enough to use.  Some are, but others are just rants.  As a professional skeptic, I won't assume a blog is valid; you have to establish that it is.  On Wikipedia, I will accept these, but only when coupled with another source on same subject.  Wikipedia is useful, but error-prone; so cross-check anything you get from them.

    For local writing help, visit our Online Writing Lab.  A web guide is Expository Writing - Resources at Harvard.  For how-to guidance on writing by political science students, see Excerpts-Van Evera at web.mit.edu/17.423/www/writingtips.html.  There is always Strunk and White:  see Bartleby's Strunk, William, Jr. 1918. The Elements of Style for on-line use.  And for the godmother of all sources, confer the Chicago Manual of Style - Q&A.  Splendid.

PS365 - Course Examinations and Papers - Spring 2007:           Top; Next Down

(1) Examinations (600 points):   Three examinations are worth 200 points each, one at the 5th week, a second right after the 10th, and a third in Finals week.  Each covers readings and class proceedings.  Each exam has an in-class section (mostly multiple choice) and a take-home essay worth 100 points each.  The take-home part gives you two or more essay questions from which to select.  You then have about five days to complete and deliver the resulting paper.  Since Exam no. 3 is on the date of the final, your take-home part will be issued a week ahead of time.

(2) Midterm Paper (100 points): A paper of approximately five pages is due by Thursday, March 8 just before Spring Recess, valued at 100 points. You should select one or more Senators or Members of Congress worthy of attention for what his or her career tells us about how the Congress works. Use someone to demonstrate an insight into Congress itself, as well as that Representative or Senator.  Ground rules on submission are the same as the Term Paper.

(3) Term Paper (200 points): There is a 200 point term paper of at least 10 full pages length, with 10 or more sources, on any topic of your choice which is germane to legislatures.  Full details on this are under separate cover.  For now, note the following.  First, select a topic of your own choosing which has a clear congressional aspect to it.  This may sound difficult but really isn’t.  I will specify deadlines for written statements of term paper topics, and will follow with another deadline for a listing of your source list materials.  Deliver this by hard copy; but also send it electronically.  That way, I will:   a) use your hard copy to make penciled notations, corrections, suggestions, and so forth; and b) use your electronic copy to post it (or a revised version) to a website locale if you permit.  That could eventually prove useful for you to put together a portfolio of your written work.  Our Department emphasizes the importance of this for our majors and minors, and we invite all of you to avail yourselves of this service.  Due date:  Thursday, April 26.

(4) Class Participation and Forum (100 points):  I count class participation and Forum contributions.  Good Forum entries are valued up to 6 points per entry up to 100 points, so that's about 16 entries or around one a week (and once at 16, you get the extra four points for 100 in all).  I will present questions on the Forum for all of you to address, so posting this many will not be difficult.  Also, the Forum is an ideal place for you to post questions or comments, and answers or replies to those.  However, I reserve the right to judge each posting on a 0 to 6 point scale.  A tally of your postings and their value will be in Gradebook.

(1) through (4) - PS365 Total Points: 1,000

PS365 - Weekly Reading and Examination Itinerary - Spring 2007:                     Top

Master Calendar - click at upper left corner for Academic Calendar

Week 1 - January  16, 18       Basic Theory - the spatial analysis of Congress

Stewart, Chapter 1 - An (Unusual) Introduction to the Study of Congress,  pp. 3-54

spatial politics - from Stewart's Introduction to Congressional Politics, go to "Unidimensional spatial model (ppt)" at URL:  www.mit.edu/~17.251/Unidimensional_spatial_model.ppt

Week 2 - January  23,25       The Framers - Where and How It Began

Stewart Ch. 2 - The Constitutional Origins of Congress, pp. 55-86

The United States Constitution Online at www.usconstitution.net/const.html; emphasis is on Article I, and Amendments 17 (Senators Elected by Popular Vote) and 20 (Presidential and Congressional Terms)

Roger A. Bruns, A More Perfect Union:  The Creation of the U.S. Constitution (web version) at URL: www.archives.gov/national-archives-experience/charters/constitution_history.html.

James Madison, Federalist No. 10 at URL:  www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm

Jacobson Chapter 1 - Introduction, pp. 1-4; and Jacobson Ch. 2 - The Context, pp. 5-21

Dodd and Oppenheimer, "Prologue:  Perspectives on the 2004 Elections," D & O pp. xxi-xxx

Dodd and Oppenheimer, "A Decade of Republican Control:  The House of Representatives, 1995-2005," D & O selection 2, pp. 23-54

Week 3 - January 30, February 1      Becoming A Modern Careerist Legislature

Stewart Ch. 3 - The History and Development of Congress, pp. 87-128

Stewart, Appendix A - Researching Congress, pp. 393-400

Sinclair, "The New World of U.S. Senators," Dodd & Oppenheimer selection 1, pp. 1-22

Hibbing and Larimer, "What the American Public Wants Congress to Be," D & O selection 3, pp. 55-75

Week 4 - February 6,8       Strategic Politicians

Stewart Ch. 4 - The Choices Candidates Make:  Running for Congress, pp. 129-164

Jacobson Ch. 3 - Congressional Candidates, pp. 23-57

Jacobson Ch. 4 -  Congressional Campaigns, pp. 59-112

websites:  Professor Renka's Presidential Election Maps, by County
               Rhodes Cook analysis of 2006 midterms - Pew Research Center - Democrats Made Gains in All Regions of the Country and Unusual Turnout Dynamic Keys Big Democratic Comeback
               Psephos - Adam Carr's Election Archive - 2002-04-06 U.S. House Congressional Districts, by state
               Robert J. Vanderbei's 2006 Congressional Election Results - extremely cool mapping, with vote by county and by congressional district

Week 5 - February 13,15  **    Non-strategic Voters

Stewart Ch. 5 - The Choices Voters Make, pp. 165-193

Jacobson Ch. 5 - Congressional Voters, pp. 113-150

    **Examination No. 1: Thursday, February 15; and PS365 Essay 1 - due Tuesday, February 20, at class.**

Week 6 - February 20,22      Not All Politics Is Local

Jacobson Ch. 6 - National Politics and Congressional Elections, pp. 151-217

Stewart Ch. 6 - Regulating Elections, pp. 194-234

Voter Eligible Persons (VEP) over VAP:  Voter Turnout from Michael McDonald's United States Election Project; Turnout Rates for Voting (VEP atop VAP); and 2004 Voting-Age and Voting-Eligible Population Estimates and Voter Turnout

Stewart Appendix A - Researching Congress, pp. 393-400

Week 7 - February 27, March 1     Can the Congress regulate itself?

Jacobson Ch. 7 - Elections and the Politics of Congress, pp. 219-258

Erikson and Wright, "Voters, Candidates, and Issues in Congressional Elections," D & O selection 4, pp. 77-106

Oppenheimer, "Deep Red and Blue Congressional Districts:  The Causes and Consequences of Declining Party Competitiveness," D & O selection 6, pp. 135-158

David C. King, 2002. “Congress, Polarization, and Fidelity to the Median Voter” at URL:  ksghome.harvard.edu/~.dking.academic.ksg/Extreme_Politics.pdf

Week 8 - March 6,8      Congress Governs Itself

Stewart Ch. 7 - Parties and Leaders in Congress, pp. 235-273

Herrnson, "The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and Congressional Elections," D & O selection 5, pp. 107-134

Week 8 Notes - "The Two-Party System in America" (used for PS103, but also valuable as intro to place of parties in the American political system)

**Note:  due date for midterm paper is Thursday, March 8.

Week 9 - March 13,15       Conditional Party Government

Smith and Gamm, "The Dynamics of Party Government in Congress," D & O selection 8, pp. 181-206

Schickler and Pearson, "The House Leadership in an Era of Partisan Warfare," D & O selection 9, pp. 207-226

Keith Poole, The Ideological Structure of Congressional Voting, 1927-2000 (still shots of each Congress); and Keith Poole's NOMINATE Roll Call Data, 1st to 108th Congresses (See the animated GIF sequence; thanks to Keith Poole for this fine stuff.)

Week of March 19-23      Spring Recess - No classes are held.

Week 10 - March 27,29      Party Government and party differences

Haynie, "African Americans and the New Politics of Inclusion:  A Representational Dilemma?," D & O selection 17, pp. 395-410

optional addition (highly recommended for those doing papers on this):  Richard E. Matland & David C. King. "Women as Candidates in Congressional Elections" in Cindy Simon Rosenthal, ed., Women Transforming Congress. University of Oklahoma Press, 2003.

PS365 Essay 2 (posted Friday, March 30) - due Thursday, April 5, at class or in the office before afternoon closing.

Week 11 - April 3,5        Congressional Committees

 **Examination No. 2:  Tuesday, April 3**

Stewart Ch. 8 - Congressional Committees, pp. 274-335

Aldrich and Rohde, "Congressional Committees in a Partisan Era," D & O selection 11, pp. 249-270

Gordon, "The (Dis)integration of the House Appropriations Committee:  Revisiting The Power of the Purse in a Partisan Era," D & O selection 12, pp. 271-295

data site on committees:  Charles Stewart's congressional data page at http://web.mit.edu/17.251/www/data_page.html#1

Week 12 - April 10,12      The Rules and the Floor

Stewart Ch. 9 - Doing It on the Floor: The Organization of Deliberation, pp. 336-392 (first half)

Week 13 - April 17,19      Congress and the President

Stewart Ch. 9 - Doing It on the Floor: The Organization of Deliberation, pp. 336-392 (second half)

Rudder, "The Politics of Taxing and Spending in Congress:  Ideas, Strategy, and Policy," D & O selection 14, pp. 319-342

Evans and Lipinski, "Obstruction and Leadership in the U.S. Senate," D & O selection 10, pp. 227-248

Week 14 - April 24,26      Congressional Legitimacy

Binder and Maltzman, "Congress and the Politics of Judicial Appointments," D & O selection 13, pp. 297-318

Wolfensberger, "Congress and Policymaking in an Age of Terrorism," D & O selection 15, pp. 343-362

 **Note:  The due date for term paper is revised to Tuesday, May 1, at class time.  If you have it ready on April 26, I'll review it for thesis and adequacy of sources and post the reviewed paper for you to pick up at my office on Friday, April 27.**

Week 15 - May 1,3      Finale

Fiorina, "Keystone Reconsidered," D & O selection 7, pp. 159-179

Finals Week - May 7-11   ** The Final Exam is really Exam 3, covering material dating from Week 11 to the conclusion of class.  Exam date is Thursday, May 10, 10:00 a.m.- 12:00 noon. **


Copyright©2007, Russell D. Renka
 January 18, 2010 11:03 AM