Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chapter 10 - The Essentials Of American Government

Vocabulary and definition from Chapter 10 - Congress

appropriations Budget legislation that specifies the amount of authorized funds that will actually be allocated for agencies and departments to spend.

authorizations Budget legislation that provides agencies and departments with the legal authority to operate; may specify funding levels but do not actually provide the funding (the funding is provided by appropriations).

Cannonism The attributes of a strong Speaker of the House of Representatives, based on the tenure of Joseph Cannon (R—Ill.), speaker from 1903-1911, who controlled the House with the force of his personality and his use of the rules at the time. He blocked legislation he did not like, controlled debate, and punished those who opposed him.

casework The assistance members of Congress provide to their constituents; includes answering questions and doing personal favors for those who ask for help. Also called constituency service.

cloture A method of stopping a filibuster by limiting debate to only 20 more hours; requires a vote of three-fifths of the members of the Senate.

conference committee A committee composed of members of both houses of Congress that is formed to try to resolve the differences when the two houses pass different versions of the same bill.

constituency Both the geographic area and the people a member of Congress represents. For a senator, the state and all its residents; for a member of the House, a congressional district and all its residents.

constituency service The assistance members of Congress provide to residents in their districts (states, if senators); includes answering questions and doing personal favors for those who ask for help. Also called casework.

earmark A specific amount of money designated—or set aside—at the request of a member of Congress, for a favored project, usually in his or her district. The dollar amount may be included in one of the budget authorization bills, but more commonly is in the committee report attached to the bill that instructs the relevant executive branch agency how to spend the money authorized for its operations.

enumerated powers Explicit grants of authority to Congress in the Constitution.

filibuster A mechanism for delay in the Senate in which one or more members engage in a continuous speech to prevent the Senate from voting on a bill.

gerrymander A congressional district whose boundaries are drawn so as to maximize the political advantage of a party or racial group; often such a district has a bizarre shape.

going public The process in which Congress or its members carry an issue debate to the public via the media; e.g., televising floor debates or media appearances by individual members.

implied powers The clause in the U.S. Constitution that gives Congress the power to make all laws “necessary and proper” for carrying out its specific powers.

informal norms Unwritten rules designed to help keep Congress running smoothly by attempting to diminish friction and competition among the members.

majority leader The title of both the leader of the Senate, who is chosen by the majority party and the head of the majority party in the House of Representatives who is second in command to the Speaker.

markup The process in which a congressional subcommittee rewrites a bill after holding hearings on it.

minority leader The leader of the minority party in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.

pork barrel Funding for special projects, buildings, and other public works in the district or state of a member of Congress. Members support such projects because they provide jobs for constituents and enhance the members’ reelection chances, rather than because the projects are necessarily wise.

reapportionment The process of redistributing the 435 seats in the House of Representatives among the states based on population changes; occurs every 10 years based on the most recent census.

redistricting The process of redrawing the boundaries of congressional districts within a state after a census to take account of population shifts.

Rules Committee The committee in the House of Representatives that sets the terms of debate on a bill.

seniority rule The custom that the member of the majority party with the longest service on a particular congressional committee becomes its chair; applies most of the time but is occasionally violated.

Speaker of the House The leader and presiding officer of the House of Representatives; chosen by the majority party.

special-interest caucus Groups of members of the House of Representatives and Senate who are united by some personal interest or characteristic; e.g., the Black Caucus.
standing committees Permanent congressional committees.

whips Members of the House of Representatives who work to maintain party unity by keeping in contact with party members trying to ensure they vote for party-backed bills. Both the majority and the minority party have a whip and several assistant whips.

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