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Act of exchanging favors for mutual gain


Composed of two legislative bodies


Distribution of representatives among the states based on the population of each state

Wesberry v. Sanders

The Supreme Court invalidated unequal congressional districts, saying that all legislative districts must contain about equal numbers of people. One person one vote.

Necessary and Proper Clause

Congress can make all laws "necessary and proper" for executing its powers

Senate Constitutional Power

Confirm presidential appointments, ratify treaties, and act as a jury in impeachment cases


Party leaders who work with the majority leader or minority leader to count votes beforehand and ensure party discipline on those whose votes are crucial to a bill favored by the party

President Pro Tempore

Officer of the Senate selected by the majority party to act as chair in the absence of the vice president

Select Committees

Congressional committees appointed for a specific purpose, such as the Watergate investigation

House Rules Committee

Determines the rules for debate of each bill, including whether the bill may be amended. This is the most powerful committee in the House

Incumbency Advantage

The electoral edge afforded to those already in office


A representative


Role played by elected representatives who act as trustees or as delegates, depending on the issue


A tactic for delaying or obstructing legislation by making long speeches


The bringing of formal charges against a public official


A private meeting of members of a political party to select candidates.


The minimum number of members who must be present for business to be conducted in Congress

Senate Leadership and Power

VP, President Pro Tempore, Majority/Minority Leader, Majority/Minority Whip, Party Conferences.

Powers of Congress

Collect taxes, coin money, establish post offices, establish standard measurements, declare war


Markups are Congressional cuts or additions. They include attempts at changing or restricting other laws or administration policy through "riders," or additions that have nothing to do with funds but for which the appropriations bill is a convenient vehicle.

Presidential Action With a Bill

Sign, veto (can be overridden by a 2/3 majority in both houses), bill on dest for 10 days when congress is in session (becomes a law without signature), and pocket veto (congress out of session within 10 days).


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

House Debate

Limited debate


Independent nonpartisan federal agency that makes the executive branch accountable to Congress and the government accountable to citizens of the United States


The inability of the government to act because rival parties control different parts of the government


Designating revenues to a specific area for a specific purpose

Great Compromise

Established bicameral legislature with House and Senate.


The redrawing of congressional and other legislative district lines following the census, to accommodate population shifts and keep districts as equal as possible in population.


The drawing of legislative district boundaries to benefit a party, group, or incumbent

17th Amendment

Direct election of senators

House Constitutional Power

Impeach, initiate revenue bills, elect president in electoral college tie.


Presiding officer of the House

President of Senate

Presiding officer of Senate

Standing Committee

A permanent committee

Conference Committees

A joint committee appointed to resolve differences in the senate and house versions of the same bill

Discharge Petition

A device by which any member of the House, after a committee has had the bill for thirty days, may petition to have it brought to the floor


An official who is expected to vote independently based on his or her judgment of the circumstances


Vote along party lines


Requires 60 Senators to vote to cut off debate


A theory based off the assumption that there are so many conflicting pressures members of congress vote as they please.


A theory that members want to be reelected and vote to please their constituents

Pork Barrel

Appropriation of government spending for localized projects secured primarily to bring money to a representative's district.


For a committee to set aside a bill without considering it. Can be overridden by a discharge petition

Bill Introduction Process

The clerk assigns a number to each bill. The President of Senate or Speaker of the House assign the bill to a committee.

Christmas Tree Bill

A bill that has many riders to increase its chances of being passed

27th Amendment

Limits the power of congress to increase its own salaries

War Powers Act of 1973

Requires that soldiers sent into military action overseas by the President be brought back within sixty days unless Congress approves the action.

Double Tracking

A procedure to keep the Senate going during a filibuster in which the disputed bill is shelved temporarily so that the Senate can get on with other business

Congressional Budget Office (CBO)

This assesses the economic implications and likely costs of proposed federal programs

Congressional Research Service (CRS)

Staff agency looks up facts and indicate the arguments for and against proposed policy.

Divided Government

One party controls the White House and another party controls one or both houses of Congress

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