74 Glossary

The Institutional Design of Congress

apportionment the process by which seats in the House of Representatives are distributed among the fifty states

bicameralism the political process that results from dividing a legislature into two separate assemblies

bill proposed legislation under consideration by a legislature

constituency the body of voters, or constituents, represented by a particular politician

enumerated powers the powers given explicitly to the federal government by the Constitution to regulate interstate and foreign commerce, raise and support armies, declare war, coin money, and conduct foreign affairs

implied powers the powers not specifically detailed in the U.S. Constitution but inferred as necessary to achieve the objectives of the national government

inherent powers the powers neither enumerated nor implied but assumed to exist as a direct result of the country’s existence

oversight the right to review and monitor other bodies such as the executive branch

Congressional Elections

surge-and-decline theory a theory proposing that the surge of stimulation occurring during presidential elections subsides during midterm elections, accounting for the differences we observe in turnouts and results

Congressional Representation

collective representation the relationship between Congress and the United States as a whole, and whether the institution itself represents the American people

delegate model of representation a model of representation in which representatives feel compelled to act on the specific stated wishes of their constituents

descriptive representation the extent to which a body of representatives represents the descriptive characteristics of their constituencies, such as class, race, ethnicity, and gender

politico model of representation a model of representation in which members of Congress act as either trustee or delegate, based on rational political calculations about who is best served, the constituency or the nation

pork-barrel politics federal spending intended to benefit a particular district or set of constituents

representation an elected leader’s looking out for his or her constituents while carrying out the duties of the office

trustee model of representation a model of representation in which representatives feel at liberty to act in the way they believe is best for their constituents

House and Senate Organizations

conference committee a special type of joint committee that reconciles different bills passed in the House and Senate so a single bill results

joint committee a legislative committee consisting of members from both chambers that investigates certain topics but lacks bill referral authority

majority leader the leader of the majority party in either the House or Senate; in the House, the majority leader serves under the Speaker of the House, in the Senate, the majority leader is the functional leader and chief spokesperson for the majority party

minority leader the party member who directs the activities of the minority party on the floor of either the House or the Senate

president pro tempore the senator who acts in the absence of the actual president of the Senate, who is also the vice president of the United States; the president pro tempore is usually the most senior senator of the majority party

select committee a small legislative committee created to fulfill a specific purpose and then disbanded; also called an ad hoc, or special, committee

Speaker of the House the presiding officer of the House of Representatives and the leader of the majority party; the Speaker is second in the presidential line of succession, after the vice president

standing committee a permanent legislative committee that meets regularly

whip in the House and in the Senate, a high leadership position whose primary duty is to enforce voting discipline in the chambers and conferences

The Legislative Process

cloture a parliamentary process to end a debate in the Senate, as a measure against the filibuster; invoked when three-fifths of senators vote for the motion

filibuster a parliamentary maneuver used in the Senate to extend debate on a piece of legislation as long as possible, typically with the intended purpose of obstructing or killing it

markup the amending and voting process in a congressional committee


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Federal Government Copyright © by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book