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Vocab for chapter 7 for the textbook American Government: Continuity and Change 2008 edition


a legislature consisting of two parts, or houses


the act of distributing by allotting or apportioning, the process of allotting congressional seats to each state following the census according to their proportion of the population.


the process of reallocating seats in the House of Representatives every 10 years on the basis of the results of the census.

congressional districting

State legislatures draw congressional districts for states with more than one representative.


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

incumbency effect

Tendency of those already holding office to win reelection due to advantages because they already hold the office


the work that a lawmaker does to help constituents with a problem


a person whom a member of Congress has been elected to represent

speaker of the house

the leader of the majority party who serves as the presiding officer of the House of Representatives

floor leaders

A political party leader in Congress who works for the passage of bills the party favors


proposed laws being considered by a lawmaking body


a tactic by which a senator asks to be informed before a particular bill is brought to the floor. This stops the bill from coming to the floor until the hold is removed.


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.

president pro tempore

The official chair of the Senate; usually the most senior member of the majority party.

seniority system

a system that gives the member of the majority party with the longest uninterrupted service on a particular committee the leadership of that committee

standing committee

Committee to which proposed bills are referred; continues from one Congress to the next

select committee

A temporary committee formed to study one specific issue and report its findings to the Senate of the House

joint committee

Includes members from both houses of Congress, conducts investigations or special studies

conference committee

A special joint committee appointed to iron our differences when bills are passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives in different forms.


informal groups that individuals in governments and other groups join to promote their common interests


role played by elected representatives who listen to constituents' opinions and then use their best judgment to make final decisions.

franking privilege

the ability of members to mail letters to their constituents free of charge by substituting their facsimile signature for postage


congressional review of the activities of an agency, department, or office

discharge petition

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.


a process in which committee members offer changes to a bill before it goes to the floor in either house for a vote.


a senator or representative who aids the majority and minority leaders to help them stay informed about what party members are thinking.

rules committee

a standing committee of the house of representatives that provides special rules under which specific bills can be debated, amended, and considered by the house


a formal way of halting action on a bill by means of long speeches or unlimited debate in the Senate. Continues as long as someone is talking; stopped only by a 3/5 vote


a vote to end a Senate filibuster; requires a three-fifths majority, or sixty votes

pork barrel legislation

Legislation that gives tangible benefits to constitutents in several districts or states in the hope of wining their votes in return


Vote trading; voting to support a colleague's bill in return for a promise of future support


amendments to bills, often in the form of appropriations, that sometimes have nothing to do with the intent of the bill itself and many times are considered to be pork barrel legislation.


Official changes, corrections, or additions to the Constitution or proposed Bills


The activities of a group or organization that seeks to influence legislation and persuade political leaders to support the group's position

legislative veto

The authority of Congress to block a presidential action after it has taken place. The Supreme Court has held that Congress does not have this power

majority leader

leader of the majority party in a legislature


funds that an appropriations bill designates for a particular purpose within a state or congressional district


An action by the House of Representatives to accuse the president, vice president, or other civil officers of the United States of committing "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

senatorial courtesy

process by which presidents generally defer selection of district court judges to the choice of senators of their own party who represent the state where the vacancy occurs.

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