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CongressThe First Branch$
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Benjamin Ginsberg and Kathryn Wagner Hill

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300220537

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300220537.001.0001

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Congress: The First Branch

Congress: The First Branch

(p.1) 1 Congress: The First Branch

Benjamin Ginsberg

Kathryn Wagner Hill

Yale University Press

This chapter is an overview of the US Congress and its major functions of representation and legislation. It argues that many of the characteristics of Congress with which Americans are so impatient stem directly from the institution's democratic nature. The legislative process is complicated because a representative assembly must find ways of balancing minority rights and majority rule and develop mechanisms for reaching decisions while still allowing competing claims to be heard and taken into account. In short, Congress is slow to act, cumbersome in its procedures, and contentious in its discussions because it is a democratic decision-making body. Many who disparage Congress are, in effect if not intent, disparaging popular government.

Keywords:   US Congress, representation, legislation, democracy, popular government, representative assembly, legislative branch, First Branch

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