Bills that benefit legislators' home districts, or powerful corporate contributors, with sometimes wasteful or unnecessary public works or other projects.
An unwritten custom by which individual senators who belong to the same political party as the president exercise an informal veto power over presidential appointments in their states.
Concept of the British statesman Edmund Burke that legislators should act according to their own consciences.
A legislator who automatically mirrors the will of the majority of his or her constituents.
Speaker of the House
The presiding officer and the most powerful member of the House of Representative. The speaker is technically elected by the full House but in practice is chosen by the majority party.
A legislative leader of each party who is responsible for rounding up party members for important votes.
Committee of the Whole
A device that allows the House of Representatives to conduct its business with fewer restrictions on debate and a quorum of only 100 members.
A vote in the House of Representatives in which the position of each member is noted and published in the Congressional Record.
The process by which a single senator, or a group of senators, can sometimes talk a bill to death and prevent it from coming to a vote.
The practice that allows senators to delay or even kill floor action on legislation, a nomination, or other matters by asking their party leaders not to schedule them.
A senate procedure to cut off filibustering by a vote of three-fifths (60 members) of the entire senate.
The permanent committees of a legislature that consider bills and conduct hearings and investigations.
Committees created by Congress to conduct special investigations.
Committees created by COngress to conduct special investigations. Although normally temporary, some select committees become, in effect, permanent.
Committees of Congress composed of both representatives and senators.
A committee composed of members of the House and Senate that tries to reconcile disagreements between the two branches of Congress over differing versions of a bill.
A system, until modified and reformed in the 1970's that automatically resulted in the selection as committee chair of those members of the majority party in Congress who had the longest continuous service on a committee.
First stage of preparing the government's annual budget. Laws that recommend maximum levels of funding for federal programs.
Second stage of preparing the government's annual budget. Separate legislation that allows the money to be spent.
A provision of law in which Congress asserts the power to nullify actions of the executive branch. In 1983 the Supreme Court ruled that the "legislative veto" was unconstitutional, but Congress continued to pass laws containing such provisions.