Vocabulary Terms

The republican ideal in the U.S. is manifested in the structure and operation of the legislative branch.

Back to standards


Appointment confirmation
When the Senate votes by a simple majority to approve a nominee of the president.
When Congress agrees that a given department or agency may spend money from the Treasury on something
Baker v. Carr
The 1962 Supreme Court case that decided the one person, one vote rule.
Bill writing
The process of creating legislation and marking it up.
The two major parties working together.
Cloture motion
When senators vote to cut off a debate. It is the only way to end a filibuster.
Groups of people differentiated by demographic or ideological categorizations that come together to form parties or other alliances.
Coining money
A power of the Congress to determine the structure of the money used in the United States and authorize its coining or printing
Committee hearings
Congressional committees bring in witnesses to testify and answer questions, as well as to debate legislation, prior to committee votes
Committee leadership
The majority party gets to have more seats on every committee in that chamber, and thus has the leadership role assigned which controls committee business.
Committee of the Whole
Technically the Committee of the Whole House, all Representatives are part of this committee when it forms and is used for whole-House business like the State of the Union.
Groups in Congress that are "over" certain procedures or policy areas.
Conference Committee
A temporary, ad hoc panel composed of House and Senate conferees which is formed for the purpose of reconciling differences in legislation that has passed both chambers. They are usually convened to resolve bicameral differences on major and controversial legislation.
Declare war clause
Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war. The President, meanwhile, derives the power to direct the military after a Congressional declaration of war from Article II, Section 2, which names the President Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
Delegate model of representation
When representatives choose their positions based on the positions of their constituents.
Discharge petition
A procedure in Congress to force a bill out of committee and onto the whole floor for debate, without a committee report first
Discretionary spending
Spending that is not already forced by entitlements, which Congress can decide the size of each year
Equal protection
Federal budget
Floor debate
House of Representatives
House Rules Committee
House Ways and Means Committee
Ideological division
When the House through a majority vote accuses an official of treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors
Impeachment trial
The Senate conducts this proceeding, and if they vote to convict with a 2/3 supermajority the official is removed from office.
Someone who already holds office and is running for re-election
Lame duck
Legislative caucus
Legislative oversight
Majority leader
Majority party in Congress
Mandatory spending
Minority leader
Necessary and Proper clause
Party leadership
Party line vote
Politico model of representation
Pork barrel
Power of the purse
President of the Senate
President Pro Tempore
Rules Committee
Shaw v. Reno
Speaker of the House
Standing committee
Taxing power
Treaty ratification
When the Senate by a 2/3 vote approves a treaty signed by the president.
Trustee model of representation
Unanimous consent
The president's ability to say no to a bill. Sends it back to Congress, where it dies if not approved again by 2/3 in both chambers.
Veto override
When both the House and Senate vote to pass a bill that has been vetoed by 2/3 majorities, the bill becomes law over the president's objections.