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Redistribution of representatives among the states, based on population change. Congress is reapportioned after each census.


The formal charging of a government official with "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors."


A current officeholder.


Redrawing a congressional district to intentionally benefit one political party.


Solving problems for constituents, especially problems involving government agencies.

Descriptive Representation

A belief that constituents are most effectively represented by legislators who are similar to them in such key demographic characteristics as race, ethnicity, religion or gender.

Racial Gerrymandering

The drawing of a legislative district to maximize the chances that a minority candidate will win election.


The president's disapproval of a bill that has been passed by both houses of Congress. Congress can override a veto with a two-thirds vote in each house.

Pocket Veto

A means of killing a bill that has been passed by both houses of Congress, in which the president does not sign the bill and Congress adjourns within ten days of the bill's passage.

Standing Committee

A permanent congressional committee that specializes in a particular legislative area.

Joint Committee

A committee made up of members of both the House and the Senate.

Select Committee

A congressional committee created for a specific purpose and, usually, for a limited time.

Conference Committee

A temporary committee created to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of a specific piece of legislation.


Years of consecutive service on a particular congressional committee.


The process of reviewing the operations of an agency to determine whether it is carrying out policies as Congress intended.

Speaker of the House

The presiding officer of the House of Representatives.

Majority Leader

The head of the majority party in the Senate; the second-highest-ranking member of the majority party in the House.


A delaying tactic, used in the Senate, that often involves speech making to prevent action on a piece of legislation.


The mechanism by which a filibuster is cut off in the Senate.


People who live and vote in a government official's district or state.


A representative who is obligated to consider the views of constituents but is not obligated to vote according to those views if he or she believes they are misguided.


A legislator whose primary responsibility is to represent the majority view of his or her constituents, regardless of his or her own view.

Parliamentary System

A system of government in which the chief executive is the leader whose party holds the most seats in the legislature after an election or whose party forms a major part of the ruling coalition.


Federal funds appropriated by Congress for use on specific local projects.

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