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interest groups
An organized group that tries to influence legislation
ad hoc/special committees
Temporary committess that are appointed for specific purposes. Generally shuch committess are established in order to conduct special investigations or studies and to report back to the chamber that established them. Example: September 11th commission
Legislative changes to the consitution or bills
Taking of census and redrawing of congressional district lines to relect increases or decreases inseats allotted to the sates, as well as population shifts with in a state
bicameral legislature
A legislature divided into two houses; the US Congress and state legisaltors are bicameral except Nebraska which is unicameral
A proposed law
bill sponsors
Legislators who propose(sponsor) or support (co-sponsor) bills
Process of solving constituent's problems dealing with the bureaucracy
Congressinal budget office was created by the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Created to assist the budget committees and to provide members of Congress with their own source of budgetary infomration so they would be more independent.
Motion requiring 60 senators to cut off debate
committee chair
Select all subcommittee chairs, call meetings, strategize and recommend majority members to sit on conferenc committees, selected by seniority in the Senate but not in the house.
committee hearings
discuss bills that have been sent to them for considerations
committee staff
conference committee
Joint committee created to iron out differences between the Senate and the House versions of a specific piece of legislation
congressional review
Process by which Congress can nullify and executive branch regulation by a resolution jointly passed in both houses within 60 days of announcement of the regulation and accepted by the president
Created in 1914 as a Legislative Research Service. It is administered by the Library of Congress and responds to many congressional requests for information each year. The service provides nonpartisan studies of public issues, compiling facts on both sides of issues, and it conducts major research projects for committees at the request of members. It prepares summaries of all bills introduced and tracks the progress of major bills.
Role played by elected representatives who vote the way their constituents would want them to, regardless of their own opinions.
discharge petition
Petition that gives a majority of the House of Representatives the authority to bring an issue to the floor in the face of committee inaction. It must be signed by a majority of the House membership, but most legislators are reluctant to take this drastic measure.
divided government
The political condition in which different political parties control the White House and Congress.
The General Accouting Office: Established in 1921 by Congress in essence creating it's own bureacracy to keep on eye on what the executive brancch was doing.
A tactic by which a senator asks to be informed before a particular bill is brought to the floor. This stops the bill from coming to the floor until the hold is removed.
House & Senate membership requirements
House members must be at least 25 years old; senators, 30. Members off the House must have resided in the US for at least 7 years; those elected to the Senate, 9. Both must be legal residents of the states from which they are elected.
The power delegated to the House of Representatives in the Constitution to charge the president, vice president, or other "civil officers," including federal judges, with "Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors." This is the first step in the constitutional process of removing such government officals from office.
impeachment process
A resolution is sent to the House Judiciary Committee, the committee votes, the House votes, the Committee holds hearings, the Committee votes on the articles of impeachment, the House votes, there is a trial in the Senate, and then the Senate votes.
incumbency factor
The fact that being in office helps a person stay in office helps a person stay in office because of a variety of benefits that go with that position.
joint committees
committees that exist in both the House and the Senate to expedite matters and to deal with high-profile issues (ex: terrorism investigation committee)
legislative veto
one/both houses could override presidential act/agreement with majority vote
line-item veto
executive authority to delete items of tax/spending bills that could be overridden by large majority of Congress; declared unconstitutional by Supreme Court in 1998 because it was considered excessive
someone who argues causes to political figures on behalf of an organization
majority leader
elected leader of party who has more reps in House or Senate than opponent; second to Speaker in House, most powerful in Senate
minority leader
The elected leader of the party with the second highest number of elected representatives in both houses of Congress.
North American Free Trade Agreement that promotes free movement of goods and services among Canada, Mexico and the United States.
The National Recovery Administration which imposed restrictions on production in agriculture and other industries as a part of FDR's New Deal.
Congressional review of the activities of an agency, department or office.
Political Action Committee. Federally mandated, officially registered fund-raising committee that represents interest groups in the political process.
party caucus/ conference
A formal gathering of all party members.
pocket veto
If Congress adjourns during the ten days the president has to consider a bill passed by both houses of Congress, without the president's signature, the bill is considered vetoed.
Pole played by elected representatvies who act as trustees and as delegates, depending on the issue.
pork barrel
Legislation that allows representatives to "bring home the bacon" to their districts in the form of public works programs, military bases, or other programs designed to benefit their districts directly.
The redrawing of congressional districts to reflect increases or decreases in seats allotted to the states, as well as population shifts within a state.
Rules Committee
exists only in the House and exercises substantial control over time and rules of debate in conjunction with the Speaker.
Senate Finance Committee
senatorial courtesy
A process by which presidents, when selecting district court judges, defer to the senator in whose state the vacancy occurs.
seniority system
The system by which members of the Houst and the Senate that have been there the longest get the high positions such as chair of a standing committee, etc.
separate powers of House & Senate
As layed out in Article I, the House has the power to initiate all revenue bills, impeach the president, vice president, and other civil officers with treason, bribery, and high crimes and misdemeanors. The Senate holds the trials of impeachment, has the sole authority to approve major presidential appointments, treaties.
Speaker of the House
The only officer of the House of Representatives specifically mentioned in the Constitution; elected at the beginning of each new Congress by the entire House; traditionally a member of the majority party.
standing committee
Committee to which proposed bills are refered. Ex: The Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations.
Committes within standing committees that allow for even greater specialization and organization within the committee. Subcommittees allow the standing committees to review bills more efficiently by allowing for the bill to be designated to a smaller group of members who are proficient in the area that the bill is dealing with.
term limits
A legal prohibition against running for a political office after holding it for a prescribed number of years or terms. For example, Presidents cannot serve more than two and a half terms (ten years).
A representative who acts independently in deciding what is in the best interests of his or her constituents.
trustee vs. delegate theory of representation
1.Trustee: representatives should be trustees who listen to the opinions of their constituents and then can be trusted to use their own best judgement to make final decisions 2.Delegate: must be ready or willing to vote against their conscience for policy preferences if they know how their constituents feel about a particular issue
War Powers Act
The 1973 WAR POWERS ACT requires the president to consult with Congress before deploying troops abroad for more than 60 days in Peacetime
Ways & Means Committee
responsibilty of raising the revenue required to finance the federal government, including all government taxes
Political party official in a legislative body charged with the duty of encouraging party members to vote with their parties on key pieces of legislation.

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