Essay on Congressional Committees: The Workhorse of Legislature

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Most individuals with a general background knowledge of the United States Federal Government system are aware that in order for a bill to become a law, it must first pass a majority vote in Congress. There is, however, a very important step in the legislative process that sometimes goes unnoticed. The committee system of the legislation process ensures that the appropriate attention is given to each bill introduced to Congress. Each member of both chambers are assigned to committees and subcommittees, and are expected to become subject matter experts in their respective roles as committee members. The committee system is necessary in order to ensure that each piece of legislation receives the consideration that it deserves. Judy …show more content…

Joint committees focus on broad areas, and are used of oversight into bureaucratic organizations throughout the Government. It would be as foolish to assume that a committee can know and understand a full piece of legislation as it would be to assume that individual members of Congress would. For this purpose, subcommittees are formed. Subcommittees are a further delegation of tasking within the review of legislation. Valerie Heitshusen, an analyst on Congress wrote, “Most committees form subcommittees to share specific tasks within the jurisdiction of the full Committee” (Committee Types and Roles 3). Subcommittees are expected to present their finding on their assigned area of a bill. They, along with experts (witnesses) testify before the full committee on their findings. After the full committee considers the subcommittees’ findings, a vote is taken as to whether or not the bill goes to the chamber. There is a hierarchy which exists within Congress and its committees. For example, each committee and subcommittee is presided over by a chair, presiding officer, or party leader. A considerable amount of authority is afforded to these leaders, which enables strong partisan influence within the committees. Because committee chairs are selected by majority leaders in both the House and Senate, the controlling party can assign committee chairs who sympathize with the party’s agenda. According to the textbook, “To

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