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Congress

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bicameral
two houses
House of Reps
Senate
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
oversight
the effort by congress, through hearings, investigations, and other techniques, to exercise control over the activities of executive agencies
authorization
a bill that states the maximum amount of money available
appropriations
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
pigeonholing
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
caucuses
groupings of members of Congress sharing the same interests or points of view
incumbents
those who already hold office/with secure seats
malapportionment
states drew districts with unequal sizes and populations- made so voting would aid a certain party in winning
gerrymandering
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
filibuster
the practice of talking a bill to its death- can continue on for as long as the speaker can speak
cloture
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
logrolling
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