The Representation Function of Congress

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Question: Discuss the representation function of Congress. In particular, focus on the key tension inherent within this function, and the consequences this has for the lawmaking function.

            The Congress members are known to be delegates of their constituency to the federal government. Their key representation role is to vote on legislation as well as ensuring that other government departments and entities are accountable for all activities and operations they assigned through voting. A Congress member represents the views of his/her constituents so that each and every issue is considered from the point of view of those constituents. It is therefore very important for Members of Congress to please their constituents for him/her to a long term in office.

            This key representation role has a big influence on the lawmaking process since the interests of the constituents in a particular perspective may be conflicting with national policies. Under such situations, there are distinct opposing views concerning how representation should be accomplished i.e. Trustee versus Instructed-Delegate.

            Based on the Trustee View of representation, the lawmaking process is affected since there is a legislator (Member of Congress) who acts according to his/her personal beliefs concerning the broad interests of the whole constituent. On the other hand, Instructed-Delegate view of representation tends to affect the lawmaking the process as well because there is a legislator/member of Congress that mirrors the majority views from his/her constituents who voted him/her regardless of personal beliefs. Apart from these two theories of representation explained above, there is also a sociological representation which as well affects the process of lawmaking. According to this representation, it is upon the people to choose a member who has ethical, religion, social, race or educational background that is the same as of their own. Since this member has views same as those of his/her voters, he/she will have a representation that acts in ways that suit his/her voters during the lawmaking process. Under these circumstances, the constituents don’t need to closely monitor their representatives.

            Lastly, on the oversight representation role of Congress, they are responsible for following up on laws that it has enacted so that it ensures that such laws are enforced and are administered according to their intention. The intention is defined based on the theories illustrated above. The Congress mainly reviews all the action of the executive as well as ensuring that its policies are carried out properly. This situation has affected the process of lawmaking since it creates a constitutional struggle amongst the Congress members and the Executive branch.

November 24, 2023


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