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All About Congress

Through our study of government, we looked at the different aspects of the United States government, including the election process, Congress, the presidency, and the Courts. The topic that I have found the most interesting is our study of Congress.

The first activity in our study of Congress was an activity called Congress in Action. We defined useful terms regarding Congress using our textbook and then put them into our own words to better understand them. We learned about the different people that make up Congress, such as Speaker of the House (the overall head of the House of Representatives – currently John Boehner), Majority Leader (the head of the majority party in the Senate – currently Eric Cantor), Minority Leader (the head of the minority party in the House and Senate), and whips (assistants to the House and Senate leaders who are responsible for gaining support for legislation). In this activity we also learned about the different ways debates can be conducted, such as a filibuster (unlimited debate in which a senator or group of senators may keep taking without being interrupted unless three-fifths of the chamber vote to end the debate), and a hold (tactic used by senators signaling to the other members of a chamber of legislation that they wish to withhold discussion of a bill because they intend to use delaying tactics to possibly give the bill a larger chance of succeeding).

John F. Kennedy

The next activity in our study of Congress was an activity called Congress: Representation. We looked at the different types of congressional representation and which types tend to be most popular with voters. We specifically looked at the delegate model of representation, trustee model of representation, politico model of representation, conscience model of representation, and symbolic representation. We read an excerpt of “The Legislator as Trustee” by John F. Kennedy. In his essay, Kennedy asserts that legislators have an obligation to give priority to the nation as a whole. We also read an excerpt from “The Legislator as Delegate”, which asserts that legislators have an obligation to express the will of the people in their votes. We compared the two essays to learn how they support different models of congressional representation.

Woodrow Wilson

Our final activity was reading an excerpt from “Congressional Government, A Study in American Politics” by Woodrow Wilson. This allowed us to understand how complex our Congress is to understand. Our group identified Wilson’s thesis to be: “Its complicated forms and diversified structure confuse the vision, and conceal the system which underlies its composition. It is too complex to be understood without an effort, without a careful and systematic process of analysis.”

– Abby T.

  1. laurene12
    May 1, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Your explinations and factual information are flawless but I would like to hear more about your thoughts on it all and how it pertains to you in gerneral. I would like to see more of your opinions and voice in your own work. It is a great factual paper and has flow but I dont see any Abby in this. The author could have been anybody for all I would have known. I want to see for you.

  2. christinab12
    May 1, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Your post was well written and very factual. To begin there is just a short edit note. In the second paragraph don’t forget to close the parenthesis when speaking about a hold. Your post was very informative but if I could give you one suggestion it would be to speak about how this study has improved your view on government or specifically about what you enjoyed about the study of congress. I would integrate a bit more opinion into the post and talk about what valuable information you have taken from the lesson.

  3. nejohnston7
    May 1, 2012 at 1:59 pm


    Your blog post was very informative! I love your use and placement of pictures! Just as suggestion, but I think you can expound on Woodrow Wilson’s “Congressional Government”. Talk more about his assertion and insert your own unique ideas. Great job on reflecting on the congress unit, but maybe add a little more of your own ideas! Awesome job!

  4. May 5, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    I agree with ChristinaB – very well-written and factual… nicely done!

    I do think LaurenE makes a great point, too: she writes that she “would like to see more of your opinions and voice.” YES! We’d LOVE to read more of your opinions – I’m especially curious to read about how you are reflecting on all of this new information…

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