Gov: Congressional Leadership


Congressional Leadership
Congress is a fragmented institution. It has no single leader; rather, the House and Senate have separate leaders, neither of whom can presume to speak for the other chamber. The principal party leaders of Congress are the Speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader. They share leadership power with committee and subcommittee chairpersons, who have influence on the policy decisions of their committee or subcommittee.

The main task of each house in Congress is to make laws. The committees of Congress perform most legislative activity. The majority party in both the House and Senate gets to select the leaders of that body, control the flow of legislative work, and appoint the chairs of all the committees. The Speaker of the House has great power presiding over House sessions.

Leadership in the Senate closely parallels leadership in the House, but the Senate has no Speaker. The vice president presides but cannot vote except to break a tie. The majority party leader steers the party’s bills through the Senate. The minority leader critiques the majority party’s bills and keeps his or her own party united. Senate leaders control the flow of bills to committees and to the floor.

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