a legislature divided into two houses; the U.S. Congress and the state legislatures are bicameral except Nebraska, which is unicameral.
The process of allotting congressional seats to each state following the decennial census according to their proportion of the population.
The redrawing of congressional districts to reflect increases or decreases in seats allotted to the states, as well as population shifts within a state.
A proposed law
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 officials from office.
The political party in each house of Congress with the most members.
The political party in each house of Congress with the second most members.
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.
Party Caucus or Conference
A formal gathering of all party members.
The elected leader of the party controlling the most seats in the House of Representatives or the Senate is second in authority to the Speaker of the House and in the Senate is regarded as the most powerful member.
The elected leader of the party with the second highest number of elected representatives in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
Key member who keeps close contact with all members of his or her party and takes nose counts on key votes, prepares summaries of bills, and in general acts as communications link within a party.
Committee to which proposed bills are referred; continues from one Congress to the next.
Committee that includes members from both houses of Congress to conduct investigations or special studies.
Special joint committee created to iron out differences between Senate and House versions of a specific piece of legislation.
Select (or special) committee
Temporary committee appointed for specific purpose, such as conducting a special investigation or study.
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.
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.
Time of continuous service on a committee.
The fact that being in office helps a person stay in office because of a variety of benefits that go with the position.
Role played by elected representatives who listen to constituents' opinions and then use their best judgment to make final decisions.
Role played by elected representatives who vote the way their constituents would want them to, regardless of their own opinions.
Role played by elected representatives who act as trustees or as delegates, depending on the issue.
The political condition in which different political parties control the White House and Congress.
Vote trading; voting to support a colleague's bill in return for a promise of future support.
A tactic by which a senator asks to be informed before a particular bill is brought to the floor. This allows the senator to stop the bill from coming to the floor until the hold is removed.
A formal way of halting action on a bill by means of long speeches or unlimited debate in the Senate.
Mechanism requiring sixty senators to vote to cut off debate.
Formal constitutional authority of the president to reject bills passed by both houses of the legislative body, thus preventing the bill from becoming law without further congressional activity.
If Congress adjourns during the ten days the president has to consider a bill passed by both houses of Congress, the bill is considered vetoed without the president's signature.
Congressional review of the activities of an agency, department, or office.
A process whereby Congress can nullify agency regulation by a joint resolution of legislative disapproval.
Wars Power Act
Passed by Congress in 1973; the president is limited in the deployment of troops overseas to a sixty day period in peacetime (which can be extended for an extra thirty days to permit withdrawal) unless Congress explicitly gives its approval for a longer period.
Process by which presidents, when selecting district court judges, defer to senators of their own party who represent the state where the vacancy occurs; also the process by which a governor, when selecting an appointee, defers to the state senator in whose district the nominee resides.