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Constituent

One of the persons represented by a legislator or other elected or appointed official

Bicameralism

The division of a legislature into two seperate assemblies

Lawmaking

The process of establishing the legal rules that govern society

Logrolling

An arrangement in which two or more members of Congress agree in advance to support each other's bills

Earmarks

Special provisions in legislation to set aside funds for projects that have not passed an impartial evaluation by agenies of the executive branch. Also known as pork

Representation

The function of members of Congress as elected officials representing the views of their constituents

Trustee

A legislator who acts according to her or his conscience and the broad interests of the entire society

Instructed Delegate

A legislator who is an agent of the voters who elected him or her and who votes according to the views of constituents regardless of personal beliefs

Casework

Personal work for constituents by members of Congress

Ombudsperson

A person who hears and investigates complaints by private individuals against public officials

Oversight

The process by which Congress follows up on laws it has enacted to ensure that they are being enforces and administered in the way Congress intended

Agenda Setting

Determining which public-policy questions will be debated or considered

Enumerated Power

A power specifically granted to the national government by the Constitution. The first seventeen clauses of Artical 1, Section 8, specify most of the enumerated powers of Congress

Rules Committee

A standing committee of the House of Representatives that provides special rules under which specific bills can be debated, amended, and considered by the House

Filibuster

The use of the Senate's tradition of unlimited debate as a delaying tactic to block a bill

Party Identifies

A person who identifies with a political party

Reapportionment

The allocation of seats in the House of Representatives to each state after each census

Redistricting

The redrawing of the boundaries of the congressional districts within each state

Justiciable Question

A question that may be raised and reviewed in court

Gerrymandering

The drawing of legislative district boundary lines for the purpose of obtaining partisan or factional advantage.

Franking

A policy that enables members of Congress to send material through the mail by substituting their facsimile signature (frank) for postage

Discharge Petition

A procedure by which a bill in the House of Representatives can be forced (discharged) out of a committee that has refused to report it for consideration by the House. The petition must be signed by an absolute majority (218) of representatives and is used only on rare occasions

Standing Committee

A permanent committe in the House or Senate that considers bills within a certain subject area

Select Committee

A temporary legislative committee established for a limited time period and for a special purpose

Joint Committee

A legislative committee composed of members from both chambers of Congress

Conference Committee

A special joint committee appointed to reconcile differences when bills pass the two chambers of Congress in different forms

Seniorty System

A custom followed in both chambers of Congress specifiying that the member of the majority party with the longest term of continuous service will be given preference when a committee chairperson is selected

Safe Seat

A district that returns a legislator with 55 percent of the vote or more

Speaker of the House

The presiding officer in the House of Representatives. The Speaker is always a member of the majority party and is the most powerful and influential member of the House

Majority Leader of the House

A legislative position held by an important party member in the House of Representatives. Is selected by the majority party in caucus or conference to foster cohesion among party members and to act as spokesperson for the majority party in the House

Minority Leader of the House

The party leader elected by the minority party in the House

Whip

A member of Congress who aids the majority or minority leader of the House or the Senate

President Pro Tempore

The temporary presiding officier of the Senate in the absence of the vice president

Senate Majority Leader

The cheif spokesperson of the majority party in the Senate, who directs the legislative program and party strategy

Senate Minority Leader

The party officer in the Senate who commands the minority party's opposition to the policies of the majority party and directs the legislative program and strategy of his or her party

Conservation Coalition

An alliance of Republicans and southern Democrats that historically formed in the House or Senate to oppose liberal legislation and support conservative legislation

Executive Budget

The budget prepared and submitted by the president to Congress

Fiscal Year (FY)

A twelve-month period that is used for bookkeeping, or accounting, purposes

Spring Review

The annual process in which the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires federal agencies to review their programs, activities, and goals and submit their requests for funding for the next fiscal year

Fall Review

The annual process in which the OMB, after receiving formal federal agency requests for funding for the next fiscal year, reviews the requests, makes changes, and submits its recommendations to the president

Authorization

A formal declaration by a legislative committee that a certain amount of funding may be available to an agency

Approproation

The passage, by Congress, of a spending bill specifying the amount of authorized funds that actually will be allocated for an agency's use

First Budget Resolution

A resolution passed by Congress in May that sets overall revenue and spending goals for the following fiscal year

Second Budget Resolution

A resolution passed by Congress in September that sets "binding" limits on taxes and spending for the following fiscal year

Continuing Resolution

A temporary funding law that Congress passes when an approproations bill has not been decided by the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1

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