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64 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
Those already holding office.
Activities of members of Congress that help constituents as individuals.
pork barrel
The mighty list of federal projects, grants, and contracts available to cities, businesses, colleges, and institutions in the district of a member of Congress.
bicameral legislature
A legislature divided into two houses.
House Rules Committee
An institution unique to the House of Representatives that reviews all bills (except revenue, budget, and appropriations bills) coming from a House committee before they go to the full House.
A strategy unique to the Senate whereby opponents of a piece of legislation try to talk it to death, based on the tradition of unlimited debate.
The formal end to a debate or filibuster in the Senate requiring a 3/5 vote.
Speaker of the House
An office mandated by the constitution. The Speaker is chosen in practice by the majority party, has both formal and informal powers, and is second in line to succeed to the presidency should that office become vacant.
majority leader
The principal partisan ally of the Speaker of the House or the party's wheel horse in the Senate. The majority leader is responsible for scheduling bills, influencing committee assignments, and rounding up votes on behalf of the party's legislative positions.
Party leaders who work with the majority leader to count votes beforehand and lean on waverers whose votes are crucial to a bill favored by the party.
minority leader
The principal leader of the minority party in the House of Representatives or in the Senate.
standing committee
Separate subject-matter committees in each house of Congress that handle bills in different policy areas.
joint committee
Congressional committees on a few subject-matter areas with membership drawn from both houses.
conference committee
Congressional committees formed when the Senate and the House pass a particular bill in different forms.
select committee
Congressional committees appointed for a specific purpose, such as the Watergate investigation.
legislative oversight
Congress's monitoring of the bureaucracy and its administration of policy, preformed mainly through hearings.
seniority system
A simple rule for picking committee chairs. The member who had served on the committee the longest and whose party controlled Congress became chair, regardless of party loyalty, mental state, or competence.
When Congress cannot reach agreement and pass appropriations bills, these resolutions allow agencies to spend at the level of the previous year.
A proposed law, drafted in precise, legal language.
discharge petition
A means of bringing a bill out of committee and to the floor of the United States House of Representatives without the cooperation of the leadership. It requires the signature of a majority of House members.
The number of Senators or Representatives who must be present in the respective chambers before business can be conducted.
The situation occurring when voters cast their ballots for congressional candidates of the president's party because they support the president.
Christmas tree bill
A "Christmas Tree" bill is generally passed late in a legislative session and contains funding for particular projects. It gains its name from the "ornaments" that are attached to attract votes.
franking privilige
The right of a senator, representative, or member of the federal government to use the US Postal Service free for official business.
divided government
In the United States, this is a government in which one party controls the White House and another party controls one or both houses of Congress. Since the United States has a two party system, being divided makes it difficult to get any legislation passed.
unified government
In United States local government, a consolidated city-county is a city and county that have a merged government, and is considered both a city and a county under the laws of the State. This is not to be confused with an independent city, which is a city that does not belong to any county in the state. This arrangement in the U.S. is frequently referred to as a metropolitan government or a metropolitan county.
descriptive representation
the idea that candidates should be elected to represent ethnic and gender constituencies, as well as other minority interest groups, rather than the population at large. According to this idea, women should only represent women, African Americans should only represent African Americans, farmers should only represent farmers, etc.
substantive representation
A concept in the legislative branches of representative republics describing the tendency of representatives to advocate for certain groups.
sophomore surge
An increase in votes that congressional candidates usually get when running for their first reelection.
majority-minority districts
Term used by the courts for seats where an ethnic minority constitutes a majority of the population.
Drawing the boundaries of political districts so that districts are very unequal in population.
The act of drawing legislative district boundaries to gain partisan or factional political advantages.
marginal district
safe district
22nd Amendment
Passed in 1951, the amendment that limits presidents to two terms of office.
25th Amendment
Passed in 19 51, the amendment that permits the vice president to become acting president if both the vice president and the president's cabinet determine that the president is disabled. The amendment also outlines how a recuperated president can reclaim the job.
National Security Council
An office created in 1947 to coordinate the president's foreign and military policy advisers. It's formal members are the president, vice president, secretary of state, and secretary of defense, and it is managed by the president's national security advisers.
Council of Economic Advisors
A three-member body appointed by the president to advise the president on economic policy.
Office of Management and Budget
An office that grew out of the Bureau of Budget, created in 1921, consisting of a handful of political appointees and hundreds of skilled professionals. The OMB performs both managerial and budgetary functions, and although the president is it's boss, the director and staff have considerable independence in the budgetary process.
The constitutional power of the president to sent a bill back to Congress with reasons for rejecting it. A 2/3 vote in each house can override a veto.
pocket veto
A veto taking place when Congress adjourns within 10 days of having submitted a bill to the president, who simply lets it die by neither signing nor vetoing it.
line item veto
Allows a governor to remove portions of an appropriation from a bill without vetoing all of the bill.
presidential coattails
The situation occurring when voters cast their ballots for congressional candidates of the president's party because they support the president.
War Powers Resolution
A law, passed in 1973 in reaction to American fighting in Vietnam and Cambodia, requiring presidents to consult with Congress whenever possible prior to using military force and to withdraw forces after 60 days unless Congress declares war or grants an extension. Presidents view the resolution as unconstitutional.
legislative veto
The ability of Congress to override a presidential decision. Although the War Powers Resolution asserts this authority, there is reason to believe that, if challenged, the Supreme Court would find the legislative veto in violation of the doctrine of separation of positions.
A congressional process through which program authorizations are revised to achieve required savings. It usually also includes tax or other revenue adjustments.
authorization bill
An act of Congress that establishes, continues, or changes a discretionary government program or an entitlement. It specifies program goals and maximum expenditures for discretionary programs.
appropriations bill
An act of Congress that actually funds programs within limits established by authorization bills. Appropriations usually cover one year.
continuing resolutions
When Congress cannot reach agreement and pass appropriations bills, these resolutions allow agencies to spend at the level of the previous year.
INS v. Chadha
A United States Supreme Court case holding that the "one-house veto" violated the constitutional separation of powers.
An excess of federal expenditures over federal revenues. See also budget.
Federal spending of revenues. Major areas of such spending are social services and the military.
The financial resources of the federal government. The individual income tax and Social Security tax are two major sources of revenue. Compare expenditures.
16th Amendment
The constitutional amendment adopted in 1915 that explicitly permitted Congress to levy an income tax.
federal debt
All the money borrowed by the federal government over the years and still outstanding. Today the federal debt is about $5.5 trillion.
The belief that the best predictor of this year's budget is last year's budget, plus a little bit more (an increment). According to Aaron Wildavsky, "Most of the budget is a product of previous decisions."
Social Security Act
A 1935 law passed during the Great Depression that was intended to provide a minimal level of sustenance to older Americans and thus save them from poverty.
uncontrollable expenditures
Expenditures that are determined not by a fixed amount of money appropriated by Congress but by how many eligible beneficiaries there are for a program or by previous obligations of the government.
Policies for which expenditures are uncontrollable because Congress has in effect obligated itself to pay X level of benefits to Y number of recipients. Each year, Congress's bill is a straightforward function of the X level of benefits times the Y number of beneficiaries. Social Security benefits are an example.
House Ways and Means Committee
The House of Representatives committee that, along with the Senate Finance Committee, writes the tax codes, subject to the approval of Congress as a whole.
Senate Finance Committee
The Senate committee that, along with the House Ways and Means Committee, writes the tax codes, subject to the approval of Congress as a whole.
Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974
An act designed to reform the congressional budgetary process. Its supporters hoped that it would also make Congress less dependent on the president's budget and better able to set and meet its own budgetary goals.
Congressional Budget Office
A counterweight to the president's Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The CBO advises Congress on the probable consequences of budget decisions and forecasts revenues.
budget resolution
A resolution binding Congress to a total expenditure level, supposedly the bottom line of all federal spending for all programs.