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17th Amendment (1913)
The amendment that provides for the direct election of US senators by the voters of each state.
agenda setting
Determining the public policy questions to be considered by Congress.
Granting political representatoin to a group of people. The apportionment of Representatives beween states is done through a complicated statistical method. The apportionment of Representatives to districts within the state is done by the majority party of the state legislature and sometimes leads to gerrymandering.
Appropriations Committee
a standing committee in the House of Representatives that recommends how much money to provide to federal agencies.
bicameral legislature
A legislature made up of two parts. The US Congress, composed of the House of Representatives and the Senate, is a bicameral legislature.
The draft of a proposed law presented to a legislative body for approval; the law enacted from such a draft.
bully pulpit
The "soap box" that the president has and uses to his advantage because he has the attention of the press and public.
An agenda, or list, that contains the names of bills or resolutions to be considered before committees or in either chamber of a legislature.
capital punishment (death penalty)
A sentence of punishment by execution, now limited to the crime of murder.
Personal work done for constituents by members of Congress.
The counting, every ten years, of hte population of the United States, conducted by the Bureau of Census.
A candidate fro public office who does not current;y hold that office, but rather is challenging the incumbent office holder. In Congress, challengers face very great uphill difficulties in degeating an incumbent.
check and balances
A majore principle of the US governmental system whereby each branch of government exercises a limiting power on the actions of the other branches. Power is distributed among the three branches in order to prevent tyranny.
A parliamentary technique to end debate and to bring the matter under consideration to a vote in the Senate.
committee chair
The congressional member who heads a particular committee.
conference committee
When bills pass both chambers of Congress in different forms, a special joint committe is appointed to reconcile differences.
The residents in an electoral district. A group of individuals represented by a legislature.
continuing resolution
A temporary law that Congress passes when an appropriations bill has not been decided by the beginning of the new fiscal year (October 1)
A person authorized to act as a representative for another.
direct primary
An election within a single party in which voters select the candidates who will run on the party's ticket in the next election.
discharge petition
When a committe has refused to report a bill for consideration by the House, this procedure is used by the H of R to force that bill's discharge.
enumarted powers
Powers specifically granted to the national government by the Constitution.
executive budget
The budget prepared and submitted by the presidetn to Congress.
Unlimited speech-making in the Senate, designed to stall the legislative process and halt action on a particular bill.
finance committee
A standing committee in the Senate, in charge in taxes
first budget resolution
A resolution passed by Congress in May that sets overall revenue and spending goals and, therefore, the size of the defecit for the following fiscal year.
fiscal policy
Government's use of its powers to tax and spend in order to influence the nation's economy.
fiscal year (FY)
A twelve-month period the government uses for accounting purposes. The fiscal year is usually not the same as the calendar year.
A policy that allows congressional members to substitute their fax signature (frank) for postage when sending materials through mail.
The practice of drawing legislative district boundaries with an eye toward creating a political advantage for a particular party. In order to increase its electoral strength, the state legislature's dominant party triies to manipulate the shap of a district.
Great Comprimise (Connecticute Comprimise)
During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, this was the comprimise reached to the opposing NJ and VA plans. It created a bicameral legislature: states would be represented equally in the Senate, and by population in the House of Representatives.
the circumstances where little or nothing is accomplished at the policy-making level. This occurs either because there is no clear and consistent majority, or because the government is divided with a Democratic president and a Republican HofR and/or Senate or vice versa.
A Senate tradition that allows a Senator to stop or delay consideration of a bill on the floor because he wishes to be present for the debate and vote, or because he is fundamentally opposed to the legislation.
Home Style
A style of behavior used by legislators that emphasizes a folksy, "one of the folks" attitude. A legislature would adopt this behavior in order to make constituents beleive that he is a Washington "outsider", and as such, can accurately represent the district and fight against the Washington types.
House of Representatives
The lower house of the bicameral Congress, in which representation is based on population.
implied powers
Authority possessed by the national government by inference from those powers delegated to it in the Constitution.
The refusal of hte president to spend money that Congress has appropriated.
incumbent re-election
The great likelihood that a current office holde will be re-elected to office because of the advantages he has as an incumbent - name recognition, the franking privilege, legislative visibility and success.
instructed delegate
Legislator who votes directly according to the views of the voters who elected him or her, no matter what the legislators personal views are.
joint committee
A legislative committee including members of both the House and Senate. Committee members are usually split evently between the House and Senate, and each member has one vote.
Process of developing the rules that govern a society. Created by governments, laws may deal with a wide spectrum of activities, from minor affairs to sweeping policies of national concern.
legislative oversight
Congressional responsibility to determine if the laws it has passed are being enacted and enforced in the way Congress intended.
legislative veto
A process placed in a number of bills the presidents signed into law allowing one or both houses of Congress to reject (veto) a decision made by an administrative agency if it disapproves.
When two or more members of a legislature agree in advance to vote for each other's bills. There are no established penalties for logrolling; there is only the threat of voter disapproval if it is discovered.
majority floor leader
The cheif spokesperson of the majority party in the HofR or Senate, the floor leader is very influential. They direct legislative program and the party's political strategy.
majority leader of the house
The chief spokesperson of hte majority party in the Hof R, considered second in influence to the Speaker. This individual directs the legislative program and the party's political strategy. Party caucuses select the leader, who is aided by the party whips.
majority whip
An assistant to the floor leader for the majority party.
mark up (session)
Joint action by a committee of House and Senate members in which a bill is approved or revised on a section-by section basis.
megabill (omnibus bill)
A bill with many provisions attached, with the aim of appealing to many legislators.
minority floor leader
The leader of the minority party in teh Senate or HofR. The minority leader directs his/her party's policies and political strategies.
minority leader of the House
the leader of the minority party in the HofR. Directs his/her party's policies and political strategies.
minority whip
An assistant to the floor leader for the minority party.
party caucus
A meeting of party members in on of the houses of legislature to make decisions on selection of party leaders and on legislative business.
The legislative role combining concepts of instructed delegate and trustee concepts. The legislator swtiches roles according to the issue being considered; sometimes also used as a derogatory term for a politician.
pork barrely (pork)
Public money appropriated by a legislative body for local projects not critically needed.
position taking, credit claiming, and advertising
Three activities that political scientist David Mayhew claims legislators engage in to satisy their main goal: reelection. The legislator introduces legislation, takes credit for the legislation, and advertises his or her success and hard work in the reelection campaign.
president pro tem (pro tempore)
The presiding officer of the Senate when the VP is absent. The president pro tempore is nominated by the leading party of the Senate and is elected by the Senate. The president pro tempore is fourth in line for the presidency and in the event the president, VP, and Speaker of the House have all died or are unable to fill the office.
The minimum number of legislative members who must be present in order to transact business.
The responsibility that legislators have as elected officials to represent the views of their constituents. Just exactly how they muse do that is debated: Some feel they should vote exactly as their constituent wish, while others feel that legislators are elected reps and should exercise thier own judgment. Utlimately officials are accountable to citizens in the next election.
A measure that on chamber of Congress adopts. Resolutions do not have to be adopted by the president or the other chamber of the Congress.
Rules Committee
A standing commitee within the HofR that specifies special rulse, or conditions, under which the House can debate, amend or consider a bill. Is inteded to function as a traffic-cop for bills moving through the house which results in the the committe having a great deal of power to influence the outcome of the bill.
safe districts
Districts that almost automatically re-elect HofR incumbents.
safe seat
A voting district that returns an incumbent legislator with at least 55 percent of the vote.
second budget resolution
A resolution passed by Congress in September of every year, setting binging limits on taxes and spending for the next fiscal year, beginning October 1.
select committee
A temporary legislative committee established by either branch of Congress for a limited period and a particular purpose. Select committees are generally established to handle issues that don't fall within a standing committee's jurisidiction, or tp handle issues that standing committees would prefer not to handle.
The upper house of the US bicameral Congresss, in which representation is based on the principle of state equality.
senatorial courtesy
A tradition in the Senate that allows an individual senator to object to a presidential judicial nomination for a district court in that senator's state. Its function usually depends on the senator running it being in the majority in the Senate and of the presidents party.
seniority system
A custom that both Congressional chambers follow that gives preference to members with the longest terms of continuous service when selecting committee chairpersons and holders of other significant posts.
Speaker of the House
The presiding officer in the HofR. The Speaker always belongs to the majority party, is nominated by the majority party caucus, and is elected by members of the House. The Speaker has more power and influence than anyone else in the House and is third in the line for the Presidency after the VP.
standing committee
A committee within the House or Senate charge with considering bills within certain, specific subject areas. While the committee itself is permanent, its membership changes over time.
Congressional committees formed as a means of easing the legislative workload and dispersing some of the power amassed by long-serving committee chairs. Holds hearings on bills, take testimony from interest group representatives and other concerned individuals, and "mark up" or make changes to the text of proposal legislation.
term limits
The movement of the state and federal levels to limit the number of terms in office that elected officials can hold.
A legislator who acts according to his or her conscience and the broad interests of the entire society, as opposed to the specific agenda of his or her constituents or another narrow interest.
Tuesday-Thursday Club
The term refers to the House members who go home to their districts for long week-ends. These members have typically been criticized for spending time in their districts, as the work done there was seen as less important than the "real" work taking place in Washington, DC.
A legislative power of the chief executive to return a bill unsigned to the legislative body.
Washington Style
A style of behavior that relies on a legislator's expertise and specializewd knowledge in order to acheive results in Washington. A legislator who adopts thsi style will emphasize his being an experiences insider who can get things done in Washington. He may even disregard consituent preference.
Ways and Means Committee
The House committee that deals with all the tax measures.
A legislator who acts as an assistant and helps the House majority or minority leader, or the Senate majority or minority leader.

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