How does Congress makes laws? Can you play a role in what kind of laws they make?
School House Rock over simplifies. The most efficient way is to attend your Precinct Conventions after the elections on election night. There you can submit resolutions to be sent to a committee that will form the party's platform. (Each resolution is called a plank.) At your precinct level you have the chance to represent your precinct at the County or Senatorial District Convention/caucus. This will be like the precinct level except larger. The Resolutions committee will address the proposed resolutions, and form their platform that will, if passed by the general assembly, will go to the State resolutions committee. If you resolution is voted against or disregarded you can resubmit it at each level by the way. At the county level you will need to get the fellow delegates from your precinct to represent them at state, or you can run at large. State is just like county and precinct level caucuses/conventions. Pass resolutions and elect members to national. National same as before.
Some other things they do at these conventions are indirectly support candidates, the people at the national convention will pick the party nominee. If for instance all of Arkansas people sent Huckabee supporters to national he might get a few votes still and you can undermine the popular vote like this. They also organize the grassroots at this level, and you can meet different politicians that will pander to you. If you really care about the resolution, try to get on the comittee. By the time the platform gets to the general assembly all of the proposed resolutions are disregarded and you end up passing the platform from the previous year as is. It could actually take a decade worth of involvement to change anything but do not give up.
If you plan on going learn Roberts Rules of Order though.
This is more specific to the Republican party of Texas and can vary from state to state and party to party. Of course voting and calling your representatives is one way of doing it, but who would have more clout a person who has never met the rep or someone who is active in their political parties.
How can Congress ever accomplish anything when the minority obstructs for political reasons?
Yes and it is a good example of how divided our own government is. Clinton had the same problem with a republican congress. Bush had it made with a republican congress. We have had mostly republican congress for a long time. It will be nice to have a democrat president with a democratic majority for a change.
Talk about getting things done. Lol the dems won't know how to act when they can actually GET something done. This country has been in stalemate long enough!!
What made congress pass the civil rights act of 1964 and the voting rights act of 1965?
Believe me it wasn't just because of the Jim Crow laws of the south. De facto segregation existed in most of the US. Black Americans with the jobs, money and social standing couldn't buy or rent homes in middle class areas. Here in the west, new housing was "restricted" - it would not be sold to a person of color. In the south, "whites only" signs peppered all public facilities even though blacks paid some of the taxes that built and supported them. Blacks had to pay poll taxes and in some states prove their literacy before being allowed to register to vote while whites were waived. The US was truly two countries: the white one and the "colored" one.
Getting these laws passed was a long, hard struggle. Lyndon Johnson was a practioner of old style personal politics. He'd spent many years in the Senate and was senate majority leader when nominated and elected to the vice presidency. He knew where all the skeletons were buried and had used the power he had as majority leader to accumulate a ton of IOUs. He'd done enough "favors" to have a huge bankroll of political capital. He was not past using his political clout when it needed to be used. When these bills came up for votes, he called in those IOUs and used his clout to basically bully and shove the votes to the "yea" side. He knew that passing these bills would spell the end of the Dems Southern alliance. He knew it would mean the end of any political influence he had in Congress but he did it anyway. If you want specifics, you're going to have to dig for them.
You also have to remember that the Dems and Repubs in the 1960s each consisted of conservative, moderate and liberal blocks. If you look at the voting records of these bills, you'll see both Dems and Repubs on the for and on the against sides. The US wasn't as politically polarized as it is today. And politics was personal, not ideological.
When is Congress going to start paying for their own health insurance?
It's not completely free for them.
Oh, they pay.
Depending on which plan that they pick, it's as low as $65 a month, which is damn fine.
They pay about 25% for their plan coverage, their employer - you and me, the taxpayers - pay the other 75%. Oh, and unlike with YOUR employer and MY employer, when they first sign on, there's no waiting period, and no short term exclusion of preexisting conditions, when there's no prior credible coverage.
Congress only has to meet once a year, according to the Constitution. In practice, they meet more often than that. However, they do not meet every day. They spend most of the year in their home districts or meeting with lobbyists or working in their offices (at least officially). Many of them are probably taking significant amounts of time off to do whatever and calling it work, but what can you do?
The Congressional Calendar is filled with large amounts of what are called 'District Work Periods' during which Congress does not meet. Watch the video below and you will be shocked at how many of these there are.
If you look at the House of Representatives Calendar, you will see a lot of District Work Periods. When you realize that Congress doesn't usually convene on Mondays or Fridays, and the District Work Periods run up into the weekends and other holidays, you can see that Congress is actually meeting maybe 100 days a year.
U.S. Constitution - Article 1 Section 4
Article 1 - The Legislative Branch
Section 4 - Elections, Meetings
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Place of Choosing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall (be on the first Monday in December,) (The preceding words in parentheses were superseded by the 20th Amendment, section 2.) unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.