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Congress Vocab

AP Government

QuestionAnswer
attitudinal view of representation The theory of congressional voting behavior which assumes that members vote on the basis of their own beliefs because the array of conflicting pressures on members cancel out one another.
bicameral legislature A legislative assembly composed of two separate houses, such as the U.S. Congress, which consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
caucus (congressional) An association of members of Congress created to advocate a political ideology, a constituency, or regional or economic interests. Almost a hundred of these groups now exist, and they rival political parties as a source of policy leadership.
Christmas tree bill A bill that has lots of riders (Senate only).
Committee of the Whole committee dedicated to operation of the House. Used to avoid 218 quoram restriction. Attended by whomever is available
closed rule Limitation imposed by the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives on the amount of debate time allotted to a bill and on the introduction of amendments from the floor (or of any amendments other than those from the sponsoring committee).
cloture rule Rule 22 of the Senate, providing for the end of debate on a bill (filibuster)if three fifths of the members agree. A cloture motion is brought to the floor if sixteen senators sign a petition.
concurrent resolution A resolution used to settle housekeeping and procedural matters that affect both houses. Such resolutions are not signed by the president and do not have the force of law.
conference committee A special type of joint committee appointed to resolve differences in House and Senate versions of a piece of legislation.
Congress A meeting place of representatives of local constituencies who can initiate, modify, approve, or reject laws. It also shares supervision of government agencies with the executive.
Congressional Budget Office Created in 1974 to advise Congress on the economic effects of spending programs and to provide information on the cost of proposed policies.
Congressional Research Service Created in 1914 to respond to congressional requests for information. It also keeps track of every major bill and produces summaries of legislation for members of Congress.
conservative coalition A vote in Congress in which conservative Democrats join with Republicans.
descriptive representation A term coined by Hannah Pitkin to refer to the statistical correspondence of the demographic characteristics of representatives with those of their constituents.
discharge petition A procedure for removing legislation from the control of a committee and bringing it to the floor for immediate consideration.
division vote a procedure where members stand and are counted
double tracking A method to keep the Senate going during a filibuster, whereby a disputed bill is temporarily shelved so that the Senate can go on with other business.
earmarking direction of funds for projects unrelated to the piece of legislation
filibuster A prolonged speech or series of speeches made to delay action on legislation in the Senate. The purpose is to kill the measure by talking it to death.
franking privilege The ability of members of Congress to mail letters to their constituents free of charge by substituting their facsimile signature (frank) for postage.
General Accounting Office Created in 1921 to perform routine audits of the money spent by executive departments. It also investigates agencies and makes recommendations on every aspect of government.
gerrymandering Drawing congressional district lines in a bizarre or unusual shape to make it easy for a candidate of one party to win elections in that district.
honoraria Speaking fees accepted by members of Congress.
joint committee Committee on which both representatives and senators serve.
joint resolution A resolution requiring approval of both houses and the signature of the president and having the same legal status as a law.
majority leader The legislative leader elected by party members holding the majority of seats in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
majority-minority districts Congressional districts designed to make it easier for minority citizens to elect minority representatives. These districts are drawn so that the majority of their voters are minorities.
malapportionment The creation of congressional districts in a state which are of unequal size. The Supreme Court in 1964 eliminated the practice by requiring that all districts in a state contain about the same number of people.
marginal districts A congressional district in which the winner of the general election gets less than 55 percent of the vote. Such districts could easily switch to the other party in the next election.
"mark-up" session Revisions and additions to legislation made by committees and subcommittees. These changes are not part of a bill unless approved by the house of which the committee is a part.
minority leader The head of the minority party in each house of Congress chosen by the caucus of the minority party. This person formulates the minority party's strategy and program.
multiple referral The practice of referring a bill to several committees.
open rule Consent from the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives which permits amendments from the floor on a particular piece of legislation.
organizational view of representation The theory of congressional voting behavior which assumes that members make voting decisions to please fellow members and obtain their goodwill.
parliament An assembly of party representatives which chooses a government and discusses major national issues. Tight party discipline usually regulates the voting behavior of members.
party vote The extent to which members of a party vote together in the House and Senate. By any measure, the extent of such voting has fluctuated and is lower now than at the turn of the century, although a slow but steady increase has developed since 1972.
pork-barrel legislation Appropriations of public funds by Congress (or other legislative assemblies) for projects that do not serve the interests of any large portion of the country's citizenry
president pro tempore A position created in the Constitution to serve as presiding officer of the Senate in the absence of the vice president.
private bill Legislation that pertains to a particular individual, such as a person pressing a financial claim against the government or seeking special permission to become a naturalized citizen.
public bill Legislation that pertains to affairs generally.
quorum call A calling of the roll in either house of Congress to see whether the number of representatives in attendance meets the minimum number required to conduct official business.
representational view of representation The theory of congressional voting behavior that assumes that members make voting decisions based on their perception of constituents' wishes to ensure their own reelection.
restrictive rule Consent from the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives which permits certain amendments to a piece of legislation but not others.
rider A nongermane amendment to an important bill. It is added so the measure will "ride" to passage through the Congress. When a bill has lots of riders, it is called a Christmas tree bill.
roll-call vote A method of voting used in both houses in which members answer yea or nay when their names are called. These votes are recorded and occur in the House at the request of 20 percent of its members.
Rules Committee In the House of Representatives, the committee that decides which bills come up for a vote, in what order, and under what restrictions on length of debate and on the right to offer amendments.
select committee Congressional committee appointed for a limited time period and purpose.
senatorial courtesy The tradition observed in the Senate in which that body refuses to confirm an appointment to a federal office when the candidate is personally obnoxious to either senator from the candidate's state.
Seventeenth Amendment A constitutional amendment ratified in 1913 requiring the popular election of U.S. senators. Senators were previously chosen by state legislatures.
simple resolution A resolution passed by either house to establish internal chamber rules. It is not signed by the president and has no legal force.
sophomore surge An increase in the number of votes candidates receive between the first time elected and their first time reelected.
Speaker of the House The constitutionally mandated presiding officer of the House of Representatives. The Speaker is chosen in the caucus of the majority party and is empowered to recognize members to speak on the floor, to rule whether a motion is germane, etc.
standing committees The permanent committees of each house with the power to report bills.
substantive representation A term coined by Hannah Pitkin to refer to the correspondence between representatives' opinions and those of their constituents.
teller vote A method of voting used only in the House. Members' votes are counted by having them pass between two tellers, first the yeas and then the nays. Since 1971, teller votes are recorded at the request of twenty members.
voice vote A method of voting used in both houses in which members vote by shouting yea or nay. Votes are not recorded.
whip A member of the party leadership in each house who helps the party leader stay informed about what party members are thinking.
safe district a seat in a legislative body which is regarded as fully secured.
Created by: kloong87li