AP Government Chapter 11

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An attempt to defeat a bill in the Senate by talking indefinitely, thus preventing the Senate from taking action on the bill.

Cloture rule

A rule used by the Senate to end or limit debate. Example: Used prevent "talking a bill to the death" by a filibuster.


Process in which a committee or subcommittee considers and revises a bill that has been introduced. Example: Critiquing and adding/removing parts of a bill.

Veto override

If the President vetoes a bill, goes back to the house it started in and needs 2/3 majority from both houses to become law.

Revenue bills

Bills that deal with money. They must originate in the House of Representatives. Example: The Anti-Deficiency Act

Party whip

Appointed person who assists each floor leader and keeps track of how party members vote and persuades member’s votes.

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.

Speaker of the House

Presiding officer of the House who also appoints rules committee, assigns bills to committees, may recommend leaders but cannot appoint. Also, he takes over as president in the case that the President and VP die. Example: Nancy Pelosi


The citizens of a district that a Representative represents. Example: Donna Edward’s consitutents are the people of District 4

Marginal districts

Political districts in which candidates elected to the House of Representatives win in close elections, typically with less than 55 percent of the vote.

Safe districts

Districts in which incumbents win by margins of 55 percent or more.

Majority leader

The legislative leader elected by the party members holding the majority of seats in the House of Representatives. The majority leader helps plan party strategy, confers with other party leaders, and tries to keep members of the party in line.

Minority leader

The legislative leader elected by the party members building a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. The minority leader determines how his or her party will react to the majority party’s programs.

Discharge petition

Petition that, if signed by a majority of the members of the House of Representatives, will pry a bill from committee and bring it to the floor for consideration. If a majority of the members agree, the bill is discharged from the petition.

Franking privelege

A function of members of congress that allows them to mail letters and other materials postage free by submitting their facsimile signature (frank) for postage. Example:Donna Edwards sending free mail to all District 4 constitutents by using the franking privelege.

Standing committee

Permanently established legislative committees that consider and are responsible for legislation within a certain subject area. Example: House and Ways Committee and Senate Judiciary committee.


A group within a standing committee that specializes in a subcategory of its standing committee’s responsibility.

Conference committee

Committee appointed by the presiding officers of each chamber to adjust differences on a particular bill passed by each in different form.

Congressional oversight

The authority of the United States Congress to conduct hearings, investigations, and budget reviews of the actions by the executive branch.

Congressional caucus

An association or members of Congress based on party, interest, or social group such as gender or race.


An amendment on a matter unrelated to a bill that is added to the bill so that it will "ride" to passage through the Congress.

Concurrent resolution

An expression of congressional opinion without the force of law that requires the approval of both the House and Senate but not of the president. Example: Used to settle housekeeping and procedural matters that affect both 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.


The minimus number of congress members who must be present for business to be conducted in Congress. Example: If less than the majority of one of the chambers are not able to attend a congressional meeting, they cannot have one.

Pork barrel spending

The appropriation of government spending for projects that are intended primarily to benefit particular constituents, such as those in marginal seats or campaign contributors.

Majority-minority district

Congressional districts designed to make it easier for citizens of a racial or ethnic minority to elect representatives.

Christmas Tree Bill

A bill that has a lot of riders.

President pro tempore

Officer of the Senate selected by the majority party to act as chair in the absence of the vice president, who is the president of the Senate.

Open rule

An order from the House Rules Committee that permits a bill to be amended on the legislative floor.

Closed rule

An order from the House Rules Committee that sets a time limit on debate and forbids a particular bill from being amended on the legislative floor.

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