also called the "elastic clause", Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, this is the source of "implied powers" for the national government, as explained in McCulloch vs. Maryland.
bill of attainder
a law that punishes an individual and bypasses the procedural safeguards of the legal process, prohibited by the Constitution.
ex post facto law
a law that makes an act a crime after it was committed or increases the punishment for a crime already committed-both prohibited by the Constitution.
checks and balances
the system of separate institutions sharing some powers that the Constitution mandates for the national government--purpose of which is to keep power divided among the three branches; legislative, judicial, and executive.
Ratified in 1913, it provides for the direct popular election of United States Senators.
the concept that legislators should vote on the bases of their consciences and the broad interests of the nation and not simply on the views of their constituents
a concept of legislative work as simply voting the desires of one's constituents, regardless of one's own personal views
a manner of representation in which members of Congress attempt to strike a balance between the interests of their constituents and the dictates of their own judgment and conscience.
a congressional benefit that permits members to send out official mail using their signature rather than postage
pork barrel politics
the effort to enact legislation favoring a legislator's home district, often in the form of costly government spending that may not be advantageous to the country as a whole.
a person who intervenes with the bureaucracy on behalf of individual citizens.
the congressional task of handling requests by constituents for information or assistance with the federal bureaucracy
the unwritten rules of acceptable behavior in congress
a practive whereby two or more members of congress exchange support for legislation important to each other
Speaker of the House
the presiding officer of the house of representatives, selected by the majority party
powerful house committee that clears most important bills for floor consideration and decides the rule under which bills should be considered and, also, the committee of a party convention that recommends changes in the way a party conducts its affairs.
majority leader (house)
leader and chief spokesperson for the majority party in the house
minority leader (house)
leader and chief spokesperson for the minority party in the house
member of each party's leadership responsible for party discipline and attendance for key votes
the republican leadership committee in the house
president pro tempore
the presiding officer of the senate in the absence of the vice president-largely honorific post, usually given to the senior majority party member
majority leader (senate)
leader and chief spokesperson for the majority party in the senate
minority leader (senate)
leader and chief spokesperson for the minority party member in the senate
the permanent committees of congress that alone can approve legislation and send it to the floor of the House and Senate
permanent committees of congress made up of members from both houses
special or select committees
Committees of Congress created periodically to study particular problems or new areas of legislation
Based on a member's length of continuous service in the Congress, it can affect committee assignments, the amount of office space granted, and even the deference shown a member during floor debate.
legislative assistant (LA)
A congressional aide who analyzes bills, drafts laws, writes speeches, and prepares position papers
administrative assistant (AA)
Top aide to a member of Congress who frequently acts on behalf of the legislator in dealing with staff, colleagues, constituents, and lobbyists
the process in which a legislative committee sets the precise language and amendments of a bill
The House schedule for the consideration of tax and appropriation bills
The legislative schedule in the House of Representatives for non-money bills
The schedule for House bills that concerns personal rather than general legislative matters
unanimous consent agreement
A common mechanism used by the Senate leadership to limit Senate debate.
Continuing debate designed to prevent consideration of a particular bill; a technique used in the Senate.
One of two registers of business in the U.S. Senate that contains presidential nominations and treaties
Provisions, usually attached to appropriation bills that "ride" into law on the backs of necessary pieces of legislation with which the President would have to veto an entire bill in order to kill the amendment.
An order from the House Rules Committee that prohibits amendments to a bill under consideration on the House floor
An order from the House Rules Committee whereby amendments to a bill are permitted on the floor
An order from the House Rules Committee allowing a limited number of amendments to a bill during floor consideration
Committee of the Whole
A parliamentary device used by the House of Representatives to facilitate floor consideration of a bill. When the House dissolves itself into the Committee of the Whole, it can suspend formal rules and consider a bill with quotum of 100 rather than the usual 218.
Rule 22 of the Senate in which discussion on a piece of legislation can be suspended after no more than 30 hours of debate by a vote of 60 members
House-Senate Conference Committee
A joint committee designed to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of a bill
Programs such as water reclamation projects that provide considerable benefits for a few people and relatively small costs for many, usually provoking little opposition.
Programs such as tariffs or tax reforms that produce considerable benefits to some segments of society but high costs to others
The combination of interest group representatives, legislators, and government administrators seen as extremely influential in determining the outcome of political decisions