The Primary Responsibilities of Each Position in Each House of Congress Separately
After only a handful of years, the states of the union decided that the Articles were unworkable. To save the young republic, a convention was called, and delegates were sent to assemble and revise the Articles. The Congress we recognize today emerged from the controversies and compromises in this convention.
It is arguably the case that within Member offices, a common group of activities is executed for which staff with relevant skillsets and other qualifications are necessary. A body of publicly available job advertisements for staff positions from a number of different offices can shed light on the expectations Members have for position duties, as well as staff skills, characteristics, experience, and other expectations.
In a typical week, Members may oversee constituent services in the state or district, travel between their state or district to Washington, DC, to participate in committee activities, greet a local delegation from the home state, meet with lobbyists, supervise office staff, speak on the floor, conduct investigations, interact with the news media, and attend to various electoral duties, including fundraising, planning, or campaigning for election. Given that no precise definition exists for the role of a Member, upon election to Congress, each new Member is responsible for developing an approach to his or her job that serves a wide range of roles and responsibilities. One observer of Congress notes that the first job of a Member is to come to grips with the dimensions of [their] role and develop a personal approach to [their] tasks (Burdett A. Loomis, 1975). Given the many challenges, the overall conclusion is readily apparent: the key to effectiveness in Congress is the ability to organize well within a framework of carefully selected priorities. It is not possible, however, to construct a grand master plan such that priorities and the time devoted to each will neatly mesh, for legislative life is subject to sudden and numerous complications (Davidson and Oleszek, 1981).
Davidson and Oleszek, Congress and its Members, pp. 140-145; Robert H. Salisbury and Kenneth A. Shepsle, "U.S. Congressman as Enterprise," Legislative Studies Quarterly, vol. 6, November 1981, pp. 559-576;
Burdett A. Loomis, "The Congressional Office as a Small (?) Business: New Members Set Up Shop," Publius, vol. 9, Summer 1979, pp. 35-55.
Gregory J. Wawro, Legislative Entrepreneurship in the U.S. House of Representatives (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2000)