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POLS definitions


2 chambered legislative body = senators and house. Expected to "refine and enlarge the debate" by combining local concerns with common good

pork barrel

appropriations made by legislative bodies for local projects that are often not needed but that are created so that local representatives can win re-election in their home districts

substantive representation

representatives don't look like all their constituents but can still represent their needs and wants


loyally reps constituents direct interests. Part of substantive representation


represents constituents interests while taking into account national, collective, and moral concerns that sometimes cause members to vote against constituents majority interest. Part of substantive representation


delegate on issues that constituents care about (ex: immigration) and trustee on more complex or less salient issues (foreign policy or regulatory matters). Part of substantive representation


assistance provided by members of congress to their constituents in solving problem with the federal bureaucracy or addressing other specific concerns

electoral connection

congressional behavior is centrally motivated by members' desire for reelection


actions by members of congress unrelated to government with primary goal of making and impression on public (ex: holiday cards to constituents and parade appearances)

credit claiming

acceptance of credit by members of congress for leg that specifically benefits constituents (pork barrel) small projects

position taking

public statement of members of Congress that makes views known to constituents (ex. poll call votes, speech, editorial, position paper). Alienates segment of constituents


redrawing the geographical boundaries of legislative districts every 10 years to ensure districts remain roughly equal in population.


process of assigning 435 seats in House to states based on ups or downs in state population, basically like redistricting but of the representatives.


attempting to use redistricting to benefit political parties, protect incumbents, or change the proportion of minority voters in district (ex. Texas after 2000 census)

partisan gerrymandering

officials from one party draw lines that benefit their party and hurt others. Usually happens when one party is in control of both houses and governship

incumbent gerrymandering

lines drawn to benefit current incumbents occurs when government is divided between parties and support from both parties is needed to enact districting plan or when needed to be approved by judges

racial gerrymandering

help/hurt chances of minority legislative candidates.
Amendments like VRA 1965 of been made to create districts where racial minority becomes the majority to up the percentage of African American and Latino elected officials.

descriptive representation

members of Congress share the characteristics (gender, race, religion, ethnicity) with constituents which equals greater trust in system and more positive role models. Gives the illusion that their interests are being represented.

House of Representatives

bills dealing with money must start in the...


inability to enact legislation because of partisan conflict within Congress or between Congress and the president. Basically people expect the imppossible from Congress, like lower taxes but increase spending

incumbency advantage

relative infrequency with which members of Congress are defeated in attempts for reelection. Suburbs: expect direct contact. Urban: how policies explained


informal congressional norm of distributing benefits of legislation in a way that serves interests of as many states and districts as possible


informal congressional norm whereby a member votes for a bill that he/she might not otherwise support because a colleague might strongly favor it in exchange for that colleague votes for a bill that member feels strongly about. (logrolling)


federal funded local projects attached to bills passed


expertise of members of Congress on specific issues/ areas of policy. More common in House than in Senate (policy generalists)


informal congressional norm of choosing members who have served longest on a particular committee to be committee chair

speaker of the house

only position explicit in Constitution; elected leader of House of Representatives; influences legislative agenda, assigns committees, scheduling, overall party strategy

majority leader

elected head of party holding majority seats in House or SEnate. Aids the Speaker of the house

Whip System

organization of House leaders who work to disseminate information and promote party unity in weighing in on legislation

caucus chair

Conference Chair for Republicans. Elects floor leaders, makes committee assignments, runs party meetings, sets agenda

minority leader

The elected head of minority party in House and Senate.

President Pro Tempore

largely symbolic position usually held by most senior member of the majority party in Senate. Presides over Senate when VP is gone.

roll call votes

recorded vote on legislation: yes, no, abstain, present

party votes

a vote in which the majority of one party opposes the position of the majority of the other party.

party unity

extent to which members of Congress in the same party vote together on Party votes

standing committee

ongoing membership and jurisdictions permanent part of House and Senate structures, holding more importance and authority than other committees.

select committees

house and senate committees that are created to address a specific issue for one or two years.

Joint committees

contain members of both House and SEnate but have limited authority

conference committees

temporary committees that negotiate differences between house and senate versions of legislation that has passed through both houses

distributive theory

member of Congress will join committees that best serve interests of district and committee members will support each other's legislation

informational theory

committees in Congress made up of experts on specific policy areas that help to ensure well-informed policy decisions


final wording of bill


president's rejection of bill by Congress; House and Senate can override by 2/3 vote

pocket veto

automatic death of a bill by House and Senate when president fails to sign bill in last 10 days of legislative action

omnibus legislation

large bills that cover several topics and may contain extraneous (pork barrel) projects

suspension of the rules

moving legisation to top of House agenda; debate is limited to 40 minutes, no amendments can be made, and it has to have 2/3 vote to pass. Deals with non-controversial legislation


Senate can limit debate time (cut off fillibusters) if supermajority, or 60+ members of Senate agree.


senate's tactic to block bill by continuing to hold floor and speak (unlimited debate) until bills supporters back down.


objection to considering measure on Senate floor

closed rules

prohibits amendments by House Rules Committee

open rules

relevant amendments can be added by House Rules Committee

modified rules

allows certain amendments, bans others. By House Rules Committee.

Legislative Veto

oversight in which Congress overturns bureaucratic decisions (fire alarms)


Congress ensures laws are properly implemented (Leg. Veto)

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