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the district making up the area from which an official is elected


representative who votes according to the preferences of his or her constituency


a representative who votes based on what he or she thinks is best for his or her constituency

agency representation

the type of representation according to which representatives are held accountable to their constituents if they fail to represent them properly. That is, constituents have the power to hire and fire their representatives

bicameral legislature

a legislative assembly composed of two chambers or houses


holding a political office for which one is running

professional legislature

a legislature whose members serve full-time for multiple terms

franking privilege

members of congress can send mail to constituents free of chanrge (cannot be used within 90 days of primaries and general elections)


an effort by members of congress to gain the trust and support of constituents by providing personal service. One important type of casework consists of helping constituents obtain favorable treatment from the federal bureaucracy


the resources available to higher officials, usually opportunities to make partisan appointment to offices and confer grants, licenses, or special favors to supporters

pork-barrel legislation

the appropriations made by legislative bodies for local projects that often are not needed but are created so that local representatives can carry their home district in the next election

sophmore surge

the tendency for candidates to win a higher percentage of the vote when seeking their second term in offic than they won in their initial election victory


the apportionment of voters in districts in such a way as to give unfair advantage to one political party

party caucus (D) or party conference (R)

a normally closed meeting of a political or legislative group to select candidates, plan strategy or make decisions regarding legislative matters

Speaker of the House

the cheif presiding officer of the House of Representatives. The speaker is elected at the beginning of every congress on a straight party vote. He or she is the most important party and House leader

majority leader

the elected leader of the party holding a majority of the seats in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. In the House, the majority leader is subordinate in the party heirarchy to the speaker

minority leader

the elected leader of the party holding less than a majority of the seats in the House or Senate

president pro tempore

mainly ceremonial leader of the Senate; usually the most senior Senator in the majority party

leadership PAC

political action committee formed by congressional leaders

multiple referral

power of the Speaker to assign different parts of a bill to different committees or the same parts subsequentially or simultaneously to several committees

conditional party government

theory that the institutional strength of party leaders is conditional; it depends on particular circumstances (John Aldrich and Donald Rohde)

congressional committee system

consists of a set of standing committees, each with its own jurisdiction, membership and authority to act

standing committee

a permanent legislative committee that considers legislation within its designated subject area; the basic unit of deliberation in the House and Senate

House Rules Committee

decides the order in which bills come up for vote and determines the rules that govern the length if debate and opportunity for amendments

Ways and Means Committee

found only in the House of Representatives; tax policy starts in this committee (all proposals for taxes start in the House)

gatekeeping authority

the right and power to decide if a change in policy will be considered (committees can decide if the bill will be submitted to the full chamber or if it will die in committee)

proposal power

the capacity to bring a proposal before the full legislature

after-the-fact authority

the authority to follow up on the fate of a proposal once it has been approved by the full chamber

conference committee

a joint committee created to work out a compromise for House and Senate versions of a piece of legislation


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


the priority or status ranking given to an individual on the basis of length of continuous service on a congressional committee

discharge petition

a committee that is sitting on a bill, not permitting it to be taken up by the full chamber, can be discharged of responsibility for the bill if a petition to that effect is signed by a majority of the chamber

agency loss

the difference between what a principle would like an agent to do and the agent's performance

staff agencies

the agencies responsible for providing congress with independent expertise, administration, and oversight capability

Legislative Service Organizations (LSOs)/Congressional Caucus

an association of members of Congress based on party, interestm or social characteristics, such as gender or race

closed rule

the provision by the House Rules Committee that prohibits the introduction of amendments during debate

open rule

the provision by the House Rules Committee that permits floor debate and the addition of amendments to a bill


a tactic used by members of the Senate to prevent action on legislation they oppose by continuously holding the floor and speaking until the majority backs down. Once given the floor, Senators have unlimited time to speak, and it requires a cloture vote of three-fifths of the Senate to end a filibuster (60 votes)


a rule allowing a super majority of the members of a legislative body to set a time limit on debate over a given bill


the president's constitutional power to turn down acts of congress within 10 days of their passage while Congress is in session. A presidential veto may be overridden by a two-thrids vote of each House of Congress

pocket veto

a veto that is effected when Congress adjourns during the time a president has to approve a bill and the president takes no action to it

distributive tendency

the tendency of congress to spread the benefits of a policy over a wide range of member districts

party vote

a roll-call vote in the House or Senate in which at least 50 percent of the members of one party takes a particular position and are opposed by at least 50 percent of the members of the other party (less common today than in the 19th century)

roll-call votes

votes in which each legislator's yes or no is recorded

roll rate

how often party (or group of members) winds up on the losing side of a vote that passes (rare for majority party)

whip system

a communications network in each house of Congress. Whips poll the membership to learn their intentions on specific legislative issues and assist the majority and minority leaders in various tasks


a legislative procedure wherein reciprocal agreements are made between legislators, usually in voting for or against a bill. In contrast to bargaining, logrolling unites parties that have nothing in common but their desire to exchange support

executive agreement

an agreement between the president and another country that has the force of a treaty but does not require the Senate's "advice and consent"

Case Act

requires that the president inform Congress of any executive agreement within 60 days of its having been reached


the charging of a government official (president or otherwise) with "Treason, Bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors" and bringing him or her before Congress to determine guilt

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