Advertisement Upgrade to remove ads


two houses
House of Reps

revenue bills

bills that deal with raising money (e.g. taxes)
must originate in the House

elastic clause

"necessary and proper clause" gives Congress the authority to pass laws it deems necessary and proper to carry out its enumerated powers


the effort by congress, through hearings, investigations, and other techniques, to exercise control over the activities of executive agencies


a bill that states the maximum amount of money available


the actual amount available in a fiscal year for each program that Congress has authorized

Speaker of the House

most important leadership position in the House
-recognize members who wish to speak
-ruling on questions of parliamentary procedure
-appointing members to select and conference committees
-directs business on the floor
-exercising political and behind the scenes influence
-appointing members of the committees who appoint members to standing committees
-exercising substantial control over which bills get assigned to which committees
-appointing the party's legislative leaders

majority leader of the House

stepping stone to the speaker's position
responsible for scheduling bills and for rounding up votes for bills the party favors

minority leader of the House

spokesperson for the minority party, steps into the Speaker's position when and if his/her party gains a majority in the House

party whips

serve as go-betweens for the members and the leadership of the House

president pro tempore

ceremonial position in the Senate, usually the most senior member
the official chair, but has no real power

majority leader of the Senate

the most influential person in the Senate
-right to be first senator heard on the floor
-determines the Senate's agenda and has much to say about committee assignments

minority leader of the Senate

may be consulted by the majority leader in setting the agenda and has as much to say as is allowed

standing committees

handle bills in different policy areas, therefore shaping legislation
House has 19
Senate has 16

select committees

formed for specific purposes and are usually temporary

joint committees

similar to select committees but consist of both House and Senate members
-conduct business between the houses to help focus public attention on major issues

conference committees

consist of members from both houses
-made to hammer out differences between House and Senate versions of similar bills


bills are forgotten for weeks or forever, and never make it out of committee

marking up/ earmarked

changing or rewriting a bill and then returning it to full committees where they can be altered even further

seniority system

until the 1970's chairmen were chosen by this sysemt and the member with the longest continuous service on the committee was placed automatically in the chairmanship

closed (gag) rule

sets strict time limits on debates and forbids amendments from the floor, except those from the presenting committee

open rule

permits amendments and often has less strict time limits, allowing for input from other members


groupings of members of Congress sharing the same interests or points of view


those who already hold office/with secure seats


states drew districts with unequal sizes and populations- made so voting would aid a certain party in winning


the drawing of districts in strange ways to give one political party an advantage over the other

minority/ majority districting

reaarranging districts to allow a minority representative to be elected

Easley vs. Cromartie

ruled that race may be a factor in redistricting, but not the "dominant and controlling" race

simple resolution

establishes rules, regulations, or practices that do not have the force of law-not signed by pres.

concurrent resolution

often settles housekeeping and procedural matters that affect both houses- not signed by pres.

joint resolution

requires the approval of both houses and the signature of the president and is essentially the same as a law.

Committee of the Whole

a device in which a legislative body is considered one large committee. All members of the legislative body are members of such a committee

germane amendments

amendments that are relevant to the topic of the bill


the practice of talking a bill to its death- can continue on for as long as the speaker can speak


can discontinue a filibuster, 3/5 of the Senate must vote to stop the debate

teller vote

members file past the clerk and say yea or nay, yeas go first, nays second

voice vote

members just shout out yea or nay

division vote

members stand to be counted for their vote

roll call vote

members answer yea or nay to their name when it is called- this type of vote can be called for by 1/5 of the House

electronic voting

permits each member to insert a plastic card in a slot to record his or her vote- only House has this

pork barrel legislation

bills that give benefits to people in districts in hope of gaining their votes


a member of Congress supports another member's pet project in return for support for his or her own project

term limits

the limits put on terms for members of Congress

Please allow access to your computer’s microphone to use Voice Recording.

Having trouble? Click here for help.

We can’t access your microphone!

Click the icon above to update your browser permissions above and try again


Reload the page to try again!


Press Cmd-0 to reset your zoom

Press Ctrl-0 to reset your zoom

It looks like your browser might be zoomed in or out. Your browser needs to be zoomed to a normal size to record audio.

Please upgrade Flash or install Chrome
to use Voice Recording.

For more help, see our troubleshooting page.

Your microphone is muted

For help fixing this issue, see this FAQ.

Star this term

You can study starred terms together

NEW! Voice Recording