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While the Representatives operated in a two-year direct election cycle, making them frequently accountable to their constituents, the senators could afford to "take a more detached view of issues coming before Congress".State legislatures retained the theoretical right to "instruct" their senators to vote for or against proposals, thus giving the states both direct and indirect representation in the federal government.

It also alters the procedure for filling vacancies in the Senate, allowing for state legislatures to permit their governors to make temporary appointments until a special election can be held.

The business of holding elections also caused great disruption in the state legislatures, with a full third of the Oregon House of Representatives choosing not to swear the oath of office in 1897 due to a dispute over an open Senate seat.

The result was that Oregon's legislature was unable to pass legislation that year.

But analysts Bybee and Todd Zywicki believe this concern was largely unfounded; there was a "dearth of hard information" on the subject. Because state legislatures were charged with deciding whom to appoint as senators, the system relied on their ability to agree.

Some states could not, and thus delayed sending representatives to Congress; in a few cases, the system broke down to the point where states completely lacked representation in the Senate.

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