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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Summer 2008

GOV S370L • United States Congress

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
86105 MTWThF
11:30 AM-1:00 PM
MEZ B0.306

Course Description

Congress is the branch that makes the nation's laws. How does Congress conduct its business? Who are the key leaders in Congress? What do committees in Congress do? Why is Congress divided into two branches? This course seeks to answer all of these questions and many more. The importance of Congress is demonstrated by the fact that Article I (not II or III) of the U.S. Constitution outlines the powers and restrictions placed on Congress. Congress is composed of the House and the Senatetwo chambers which must agree in order to send legislation to the President. Because it is difficult for 535 people to come to agreement easily, the institution is designed so that members compromise in order to pass legislation. This course will examine all of these structural issues, as well as congressional representation, elections and redistricting, the role of political parties, congressional decision-making, and the relationship between Congress and the President, the Judiciary, and the Press.

Grading Policy

Grades will be computed as follows: Midterm Exam (July 31) 30% Final Exam II (August 16) 40% Book Review 20% Attendance /Quizzes 10%


Davidson, Roger H. and Walter Oleszek 11th Ed. 2007. Congress and its Members Dodd, Lawrence, and Bruce Oppenheimer 8th Ed. 2005. Congress Reconsidered Oleszek, Walter 7th Ed. 2007. Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process Hamilton, Alexander, James Madison, and John Jay. 1961. The Federalist Papers ed. Clinton Rossiter. Penguin Mentor: New York. **Other readings will be journal articles, or selected chapters from other books. These will be marked with an * below in the appropriate week. They can be found via ERes (Electronic Reserves System) at The password for the course is "cloture." Newspapers and Online Sources Students should read a major newspaper, such as the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal daily in order to monitor Congressional activities.


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