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  • AQA Component The legislative branch of government: Congress

  • Edexcel Component 3A: 2.3: Interpretations and debates around Congress: changing significance of parties in Congress

Background: what you need to know

The US Congress has finally passed a bill funding Ukraine’s struggle against Russia and providing military aid for Israel. This ends 18 months of wrangling on Capitol Hill and is a rare example of bipartisan lawmaking. However, it was noteworthy that in the House of Representatives, more Republicans voted against than for the measure.

The bill passed after House Speaker Mike Johnson, usually seen as a Trump loyalist, co-operated with the Democrats. Republican hardliners are angry about this and may act against Johnson, just as they ended the career of his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy. Meanwhile left-wing Democrats were unhappy about continuing US support for Israel following its incursion into Gaza. The episode demonstrates the limits of bipartisanship in US politics.

Click the link below to read the article and then answer the questions:

US Senate passes $95bn bill including aid for Ukraine

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 2

  • ‘The effectiveness of Congress is limited by the polarisation of US politics.’ Analyse and evaluate this statement. [25 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 3A

  • Evaluate the view that partisanship limits the effectiveness of Congress. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]

    TIP: Ukraine has become a dividing line between isolationist-inclined Republicans and more internationalist Democrats. Recent US politics has been bedevilled by bitter controversies which have eventually been resolved by grudging compromise. Examples include the passing of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022 and the deal to avert a government shutdown in March 2024.

    See House approves Biden’s flagship climate and tax package for the former and US senators reach deal on $1.2tn spending bill to avert government shutdown for the latter.

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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