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Divided Government

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

Unified Government

the same party controls the White House and both houses of Congress


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

Electoral College

the people chosen to cast each state's votes in a presidential election. Each state can cast one electoral vote for each senator and representative it has. The District of Columbia has three electoral votes, even though it cannot elect a representative or senator

Pyramid Structure

a president's subordinates report to him through a clear chain of command headed by a chief of staff

Circular Structure

several of the president's assistants report directly to him

Ad Hoc Structure

several subordinates, cabinet officers, and committees report directly to the president on different matters


the heads of the fifteen executive branch departments of the federal government

Bully Pulpit

the president's use of his prestige and visibility to guide or enthuse the American public

Veto Message

a message from the president to Congress stating that he will not sign a bill it has passed. Must be produced within ten days of the bill's passage

Pocket Veto

a bill fails to become law because the president did not sign it within ten days before Congress adjourns

Line-Item Veto

an executive's ability to block a particular provision in a bill passed by the legislature

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


charges against a president approved by a majority of the House of Representatives

Lame Duck

a person still in office after he or she has lost a bid for reelection

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