4 January 2018
Why are committees in Congress so important? How do the political parties affect the committee system in Congress? Committees represent a significant role in the legislative process by helping to coordinate the most important assignment of the Congress. Senate committees supervise the actions of the government and analyze issues for congressional review. In other words, when a bill is proposed in either Senate or the House, it is sent to a committee for examination and to receive a public judgment. Then, if the votes are in favor, the committee has to make the final decision, by suggesting changing the bill, approve it to take further action by the Senate or House, or even to disapprove it. Thousands of laws are suggested each year, but around 5% of them get to be successful.
The committees are the real power of the Congress because the committee Chairmen are very powerful. They can “pigeonhole” a bill, which represents that a bill could get canceled or the committee could modify and add other bills with the purpose of changing the original one by all it means. There are four types of committees: standing committees, select committees, joint committees, and conference committees. The first type, standing committees, are the most critical type because they modify the majority of the proposed laws. They can also manage to start investigations, such as the Senate Banking Committee’s investigation of President Bill Clinton’s Whitewater investments.
The second type, select committees, are designed to work on specific purposes, occasional on a particular case, like the investigation of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King to have limited lives. The third type, joint committees, has a similar direction as select committees, but the members are from both the House and the Senate. They are in charge of the business between the houses and guide the public attention on major concerns. The last type, conference committees, establish when both the House and Senate have to coordinate different versions of the same bill. The members of the conference committees are made up of members from the House and Senate, and once the committee agrees on a compromise, the revised bill is returned to both houses of Congress to get their approval.
Party organization is formed by democratic and republican parties, and they represent a powerful presence in Congress. Almost all the members of Congress are either a republican or a democrat, and these political parties bring Congress organization format and regulation. The most stable coalitions in Congress are the parties in Congress, who also do the lawmaking. The party members are helped by Congressional campaign committees to get elected to Congress.
There exist two types of formal party organizations: caucuses and committees. The top leadership positions are controlled by the majority party and the minority party represents an organized encounter to the majority party. The members of the House and Senate are associated with a political party: party’s caucus or conference. Caucuses nominate leaders, get the approval for committee’s assignments, and establish tasks to research and resolve specific issues. Then, they have a forum to debate the policies and to develop the strategies for passing the legislation. The people from the party staff helps the members of the party by assisting them with media interactions, like producing interviews on television or radio, webcasts or podcasts on Capitol Hill. Caucuses promote their party loyalty members by giving them rewards, such as prestige committee assignments. Sometimes, because of this, some members change the party.
Party committees are established by the two major parties and have the primary job to execute specific tasks. In the House, the steering committees are formed of the party leaders and propose members to deliver on legislative committees. The members are advised about the legislative proposals by each party’s House and Senate policy committee. The campaign committees do a lot of jobs to promote the election of their party members to Congress, like raising funds, organize volunteers, and developing campaigns to boost their publicity. The party voting consists of Congressional parties who promote party voting on bills. When a majority of members from one of the parties vote against another majority of members of the opposing party on major legislation, then the party votes occur.
Nowadays in Congress, there is around 70 to 80 percent of members who have frequently voted with their party. The members’ decisions are affected by the political parties’ decisions. In the party, voting exists some tension between the institution of Congress and individual members. The main reason for this is because the party voting usually declines in election years, as members are not ready to face criticism in their districts for supporting unpopular positions. Rarely the media focuses on the legislation itself when it comes to the conflict between the two major parties Republican and Democratic. In our days, the conflict is more debatable, and the journalists find it easier to focus on it than to cover the complicated details of the legislation itself.