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The Legislative Branch

Page history last edited by Tom Armstrong 1 year, 5 months ago

Article I                                                 The Legislative Branch of the U.S. Government

Image result for legislative branch pictures


Unit Questions

                                                                   What does it take to be elected to Congress and do their job?

                                                                   Is congress successful?



Icivics on running for congress. See how it works.


The Legislative Branch standards
C.12.4 Explain the multiple purposes of democratic government, analyze historical and contemporary examples of the tensions between those purposes, and illustrate how governmental powers can be acquired, used , abused, or legitimized.
C.12.6 Identify and analyze significant political benefits, problems, and solutions to problems related to federalism and the separation of powers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hltv8-nzcUc&t=2s 5:55 Intro Video on Legislative Branch

Activity 1

constitution Article 1 leg branch.docx  This is article 1 of the Legislative Branch

Lets see what in it?

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1igdhR6V64PqbfkIhxe2YR5lYDZv-LvoERE2HIoo9Yuc/edit?usp=sharing Do this DOC while reading Article 1 of the constitution 


When unit is over you should:
1. List the many duties and responsibilities that Congress performs.  
2. Identify what representatives in the Legislative Branch do and will understand why they do it.
3. Identify and understand the steps a bill goes through to become a law. 
4. Determine how you can participate, influence, and use legislative powers in your daily life 
5. Define the primary responsibilities of a member of Congress

Vocabulary http://www.studystack.com/flashcard-2387108 Use the Stack to study.

Image result for legislative branch pictures



Activity 2: Notes on legislative Branch (Intro)

1. .  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1aHepFh6qXDE_YcOVtvnX764uM5vLhQOvGfAj-gEWEkw/edit?usp=sharing - use this note sheet throughout the unit.

2. While watching the videos, identify words that are associated with the two columns.

3. Add information to your notes from the following links below on basic legislative information



Activity 3

Essential Question: When is the legislative branch successful?

Essential Question: Why is Democracy a difficult and messy form of government that is not easy to appreciate?

Congress Approval rating at 19%. Why?



http://constitutioncenter.org/ Use this resource for full Constitution resource


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JlgC2DE0tw 4:30 Uptown Funk 3 branches




1. Read pp. 27-52 in the  graphic novels on Legislative Branch 

2 After reading we will do the following questions

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1J2dbWZQfu1ZyJTL0MfztJ2tXnSOzzgVhrO3bkc1mz28/edit Google doc of the 20 questions from the reading

3. Discuss answers

4. Lets read together what article I is says the duties are of congress.

https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/interpretation/article-i/clauses/762 Use this link to study Article I of the constitution.

5.  How effective is Congress at doing its job? How much do the you think people appreciate the job Congress does? ?

 What is it we expect of the Legislative Branch?   Let's read together and you decide.


Re teaching or practice on congressional power

What congress does and why it matters? 

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/1602cbcaccc06549?projector=1 match the duty with the power.


https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Sc-0vT51xeVyQsbfFGCaCd_P_mDZ5o0VGYBgmYvJ4uM/edit?usp=sharing quick write on the Legislative Branch.



Activity 4                   5 Areas where the we lose appreciation for the Legislative branch (Congress).

When does the Legislative branch not work or work for us? 1. lobbyists  2. gov shut down  3. Citizen united  4. Confirm supreme court justices 5. Gerrymandering


https://docs.google.com/document/d/14_wngF_bBqe43vBm7xp_ovcXEVHwJU-cdiZrdT9ntpA/edit?usp=sharing Use this organizer for the 5 areas below.



1. Lobbying and Interest Groups

INTEREST GROUPS and  LOBBYING                             

Who has Congress' ear?

Lobbyist-(n) a person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest; a member of a LOBBY. Lobbyist represent interest groups or faction.

There is an organized group (interest group) for nearly every person with a policy interest—from automobile manufactures to small business owners; factory workers to retirees; religious freedom advocates to ethnic constituencies.  Many accuse these “special interests” of hijacking the legislative process. But these groups play an important role—by focusing the public‘s attention on certain issues and helping members of Congress understand their values. Joining an interest group is one of the main ways Americans participate in public life and communicate their concerns to government.

http://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/special-interest-government-corruption.html/?a=viewall Here is an article on the 20 biggest special interests groups.


2. Government funding

What is a Government Shutdown?

How is the legislative branch messy? Lets look at funding the Federal Government and how they influence paying the bills for the nation.


In U.S. politics, a government shutdown is the process the Executive Branch must enter into when the Congress ( Legislative Branch) creates a "funding gap" by choosing not to or failing to pass legislation funding government operations and agencies, or, after the Congress passes a bill to fund the government and sends it to the President, ...



https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/federal-budget-process/ How does a federal budget pass?


http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/12/07/congress-poised-pass-bill-fund-government-boost-defense-spending/95094238/ Article on a Government shut down


Do this activity on passing a federal budget.


Is it easy to pass a budget?


How is the legislative branch messy? Lets look at PACs and how they influence making of laws.


3. Campaign financing 

What is Citizens United?

http://reclaimdemocracy.org/who-are-citizens-united/ This is full reading on What is  Citizens United.

What is Citizens United? The short answer is it’s two different but related things: a Political Action Committee (PAC) in Washington, D.C., and a Supreme Court case about election spending in which the aforementioned PAC was the plaintiff. Both lie at the center of a debate over the role corporations play in society. 


See how Congress has compromised since Citizens United has existed



Look at the money and how it influences the political process.



What is Citizens United and how has it influenced politics?

frayer_model Citizens United.docx


Quick Write: Why is the legislative branch a difficult and messy form of government that is not easy to appreciate?

Statement, evidence, evidence, evidence, Conclusion. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1kpFlPFgaKuZWcrT29Jm2n2DM5Gd-AuCpu2k_WXAFIa8/edit Place your answer on this google form.


4. Confirm Supreme Court Justices

Confirm Supreme Court Justices

Does the Legislative Branch (Senate) have to fill the Supreme Court by Holding Hearings?

Legislative Supreme Court nominee.pdf Article on the Senates refusal to hold court hearings

legislative branch Checks and Balances w.s.docx W.S. on Checks and Balances.




5. Drawing House of Representative boundaries


washingtonpost.com-This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see.pdf  Article about Gerrymandering from above chart

Gerrymandered Congressional Districts in the United States top 10.pdf Top 10 most gerrymandered districts


http://redistrictinggame.org/ Play the redistricting games on Gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering organizer.docx  complete this organizer and the questions after reading the articles and playing the redistricting game.


3. After looking at links below and watching videos, take the list of vocabulary words and make the two Wordles.  Repeat words that your hear more often.


4.    Final Activity    Create your Wordle using the Wordle vocabulary sheet from the beginning of the unit                 Wordle Link


5. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1dHG36au7zkSKz712y4soRWCA6nfXu947L2OGZQinrhw/edit?usp=sharing Create a google side about the duties of Legislative branch



Activity 5     Appreciating Democracy

Essential question: Why is Democracy a difficult and messy form of government that is not easy to appreciate?


Pick a place to eat- lets use Democratic principles

1. A unanimous pick for a place to eat

2. 2/3 pick for a place to eat

3. Majority vote for a place to eat 51%

Congress does not need a 60% threshhold to pass a bill. The House of Representatives requires a simple majority for any given bill. That's the easy part. The Senate is tricky because while the votes for bills only require 51%, there's the filibuster.

A filibuster in the United States Senate is a dilatory or obstructive tactic used in the United States Senate to prevent a measure from being brought to a vote. The most common form of filibuster occurs when a senator attempts to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a bill by extending the debate on the measure.


Lobbyist-(n) a person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest; a member of a LOBBY. Lobbyist represent interest groups or faction.


Democracy Definition: a system of government in which the power is shared by all the people.


Background on why the legislature branch is messy      

  • Democracy is filled with conflict
  • Democracy is extremely human
  • Democracy gets a bad rap when practiced in Congress or state legislatures
  • Electronic and print media are critical and report what appears bad or scandalous because people respond more to the negative than the positive news
  • The negative is central to political campaigns, where competition is intense.
  • Advocates for one issue or another criticize the congressional and legislative systems to enact their policies or agendas.
  • No one is ever entirely happy with what a legislature produces.
  • Americans do not see why there is so much conflict in politics and are unaware of the divisions that exist. We agree on surface at a general level but not in detail. 
  • Americans do not see the existence of differences in the American public. "We all know what's right, why don't they just do it?



Legislative process

Agreement (consensus)

Deliberation (position)

Negotiation (compromise)

Decision (majority rule)


Handout:  Where to Eat? 

Restaurant Assessment Questions


Wrap up

Directions: Answer the questions below about the legislatvie process. Each answer must include two statements. 

   Wrap up Legislative Process.doc

Extra article here on how money in politics is working against the middle class and poor.

Money Plans To Destroy Our Safety Net Will Also Kill Democracy.pdf


Political Action Committee (PAC) — A popular term for a political committee organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates. Most PACs represent business, labor or ideological interests.

Top 20 PAC Contributors to Candidates, 2015-2016

PAC NameTotal AmountDem PctRepub Pct
National Assn of Realtors $3,912,200 42% 58%
National Beer Wholesalers Assn $3,515,700 42% 57%
AT&T Inc $3,100,750 38% 62%
Honeywell International $2,785,864 40% 60%
National Auto Dealers Assn $2,747,250 28% 72%
Lockheed Martin $2,600,750 38% 62%
Blue Cross/Blue Shield $2,585,898 36% 64%
American Bankers Assn $2,524,507 22% 78%
Credit Union National Assn $2,462,350 46% 54%
Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $2,413,200 97% 3%
National Assn of Insurance & Financial Advisors $2,312,400 33% 67%
Operating Engineers Union $2,270,903 74% 26%
Comcast Corp $2,264,200 37% 63%
United Parcel Service $2,218,203 34% 66%
Northrop Grumman $2,149,500 39% 61%
Boeing Co $2,086,000 42% 58%
Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union $2,084,500 92% 8%
Majority Cmte PAC $2,076,513 0% 100%
New York Life Insurance $2,029,200 43% 57%
National Assn of Home Builders $2,028,125 16% 84%


Top lobbyists

  • NRA (guns) $22,450,670.       98% to Republicans 2% to Democrats
  • AARP (retirees)
  • NFIB (small businesses)
  • AIPAC (Israel)
  • AAJ (lawyers)
  • AFL-CIO (trade union)
  • USCC (business)
  • NBWA (beer)




                                Reading Activity  


Goal: How does this article state what is or is not messy about Democracy?

Read the article below and answer the questions that follow.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/03/opinion/populism-and-the-silent-majority.html?_r=2&ref=conservatismuspolitics  Article on the silent majority and Nixon's reach to both sides of the spectrum.

What Worked using Democracy?


What did not work or was messy with Democracy?

Read the link on Nixon above. Comment on chart.


      Difficulties with Democracy Chart


 Exit question: What is one aha!!! moment that you learned about the political spectrum, politics, or Democracy?




  How congress influences your life


Unit objective: Why is Democracy a difficult and messy form of government that is not easy to appreciate?


Understanding Congress

http://media.wix.com/ugd/291e9d_831940dd1a1445b38bd3356931137042.pdf a citizen's guide




1.Choose three videos to watch and  respond to criticism, impacts and the importance of civic responsiblilites on the organizer.




What do you know about how Congressional action can affect your everyday routine?
List at least 5 things that you learned how congress influences your everyday life on a google form


http://www.phschool.com/curriculum_support/interactive_constitution/quiz/index.htm  do quiz on Article 1


https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1lu1RgXZqUYxpz9FnhpabX8W1zxPytV5AyzjQ-LhHTdA/edit  Final exit slip on Legislative Branch


Summative Assessment Legislative Branch


Legisative branch Trading Cards 2010 (1).docx






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