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"California On The Hill"
Instructors: Bruce Cain, Tim Ransdell, Laura Capps
Winter 2006, Wednesdays & Thursdays, 8:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m., UCDC Main Auditorium
Professor Cain is Director of UC Washington and Robson Professor of
Political Science at Berkeley.
Tim Ransdell is the Director of the California Institute for Federal Policy Research and UC graduate.
Laura Capps is Communications Director for Senator Kennedy and UC graduate.
California has 55 representatives on the Hill, the largest delegation. Many of its legislators sit on important committees and hold leadership positions. This course will explore contemporary politics, processes and policies on the Hill as they affect California. We will begin with a review of the political and demographic context that the California delegation finds itself in, and the conditions in California, such as the state’s changing economy and the heavy influx of immigrants, that shape its needs and expectations from federal programs. Among the topics to be discussed are the polarization of the caucus, how money is raised and from whom, the importance of committee chairmanships and leadership posts, media relations as well as a number of policy areas such as homeland security, science policy and funding, homeland security, defense and base closures, water and transportation and immigration reform.
Students will be required to do all reading and participate in class discussions. There will also be three short papers on assigned topics. The first paper will ask you to research one of the Congressional races, the electoral/constituency pressures its representative must deal with. Based on the electoral history and demographic profile of the district, you will try to assess the Democratic or Republican prospects for winning control of the seat in the mid-term elections. The second paper will take the form of a short policy memo advising a hypothetical representative of a position he or she should adopt. The last paper will be an open book synthesis of the material in the course answering a broad question posed by the instructors. Students may also be asked to attend Center talks and events related to the subject matter of the course, and to read Tim Ransdell’s weekly California Capitol Hill Bulletin.
The course will have frequent guests from the Hill and will depart from the schedule outlined below when timely opportunities arise or circumstances dictate.
There will be one primary text: The Legislative Branch edited by Paul J. Quirk and Sarah Binder. There will be other materials distributed or directed in class.
Topics and Course Outline
Part I. Congress and the California Delegation
January 4 and 5 - A Profile of California’s Delegation and the Congress
Reading: Congress and the Constitutional System,” Charles Stewart.
January 11 and 12 - Congressional Elections and Campaign Finance
Reading: “Modern Campaigns and Representation,” Gary Jacobson; “Representing Racial and Ethnic Interests,” David Canon.
January 18 and 19 - Rising Partisanship and its Effect on Congress
Reading: “Actions in the Public Sphere,” David Mayhew; “Elections, Parties and Governance,” Sarah Binder.
January 25 and 26 - Congress and the Judiciary: the Alito Hearings
Reading: “Advice and Consent: Cooperation and Conflict in the Appointment of Federal Judges,” Forrest Maltzman.
February 1 and 2 - Congress and the Presidency
Reading: “Foreign Affairs and War,” Christopher Deering; “Budgets and Fiscal Policy,” Eric Patashnik.
February 8 and 9 - Committee Chairs and Congressional Leadership.
Reading: “Parties and Leadership in the House,” Barbara Sinclair; “Parties and Leadership in the Senate,” Steven Smith.
February 15 and 16 - Interest groups, lobbyists and the media
Reading: “Interests, Constituencies and Policy-making,” Frances Lee; “Images of Congress,” John Hibbing.
Part II. Issues Before Congress that Impact California
February 22 and 23 - Immigration reform
March 1 and 2 - Science, R&D, and Stem Cell Research
March 8 and 9 - Transportation and Military Spending
March 15 - Wrap-up
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