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Study Notes

Unit 4 Essay Advice: "“Lacking in effective leadership” Assess this claim about the US Congress"

AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

This Study Note contains some of the key terms and examples that you might consider using if you were assessing the effectiveness of leadership in Congress.

Make sure you can explain the following key terms:

  • US Congress
  • Article I of the Constitution
  • The Speaker of the House
  • Minority Leader
  • Majority Leader
  • Democratic Whip
  • Republican Whip
  • Committee Chairmen
  • Caucus Chairs
  • Pork Barrel politics
  • Pressure Groups
  • Ear marks
  • Party polarisation
  • Partisanship
  • Influences upon Congressional voting
  • Legislator in Chief

Contemporary Examples

Congress lacks effective leadership:

  1. The Affordable Care Act had to be introduced by Charles Rangel a Democrat from NY instead of the Legislator in Chief
  2. Speaker Boehner was forced from office after pressure from Congressional Republicans for not being conservative enough in 2015.
  3. 2014 saw the largest ideology gap between Moderate Republicans and Moderate Democrats according to Pew Research.

Congress does not lack effective leadership:

  1. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been dubbed the most effective speaker in modern times having piloted through reforms in Healthcare, Finance and Ethics.
  2. Pelosi then as House Democratic Leader during the Boehner Speakership fought a tough fight against repeal of Obamacare
  3. Congress does have some very effective members such as Dave Camp from Michigan who was the most effective Republican in the 113th Congress

Historical Examples

Congress lacks effective leadership:

  1. Between 2005 and 2007, 27% of communications issued by Senators were negative about the opposing party.
  2. Speaker Gingrich was removed by Republicans after the worst performance by Republicans when not holding the Presidency in the 1998 elections.

Congress does not lack effective leadership:

  1. Speaker Gingrich managed to coordinate the 1994 Republicans into a nationalised campaign in order to retake the House.
  2. Dennis Hastert was the longest serving Republican Speaker, providing leadership throughout the end of the Clinton administration and for most of the Bush administration.

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