Summer 2018 - 89325/89320 - PA W381W - Foundations of Policymaking

How the U.S. Congress Works—DC

MPAff 89325/ MGPS 89320

This course examines how the U.S. Congress operates in both its legislative and oversight capacities. The students will learn how policymaking is affected by the organizational and structural make-up of the legislative branch and how congressional members and staff operate within the congressional environment. The course will examine the role of the Congress in affecting policies at the state and local levels as well as in the international arena. The course requires students to prepare and conduct various oral and written presentations offered in a range of congressional settings, such as a town hall, formal committee hearings, mark-ups, models/official travel, oversight visits, etc.

Topics include:  

The governance of Congress and its rules, leadership and the processes it uses to affect policy.  
The interaction of the Congress with the executive and judicial branches of government in all phases of the legislative process.  
The role of the Congress in developing international policies.  
The relationship of the Congress to policies generating from state and local governments as well as national policies that require state and local implementation.  
The relationship between the Congress and non-federal government institutions such as state and local authorities, non-governmental/ business institutions, organizations that lobby, think tanks, etc.  
Organic authorizing statutes.  
Drafting committee report language.  
Writing legislative briefs for Members and staff. 
Presenting testimony. 
The role of committees in the work of the Congress.  
The ability of the Congress to establish legislative agendas. 
The changing role of leadership in the House and Senate. 
The way Congress obtains and uses information.  
The range of functions undertaken by congressional staff. 
The unique roles of Legislative Branch Agencies: Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Budget Office, the Congressional Research Office,and the Government Printing Office.