attitudinal view of representation / The theory of congressional voting behavior which assumes that members vote on the basis of their own beliefs.
*bicameral legislature / A legislative assembly composed of two separate houses, such as the U.S. Congress, which consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
*caucus (congressional) / An association of members of Congress created to advocate on behalf of a political ideology, a constituency, or regional or economic interests. Almost a hundred of these groups now exist, and they rival political parties as a source of policy leadership.
*Christmas tree bill / A bill that has lots of riders.
*closed rule / Limitation imposed by the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives on the amount of debate time allotted to a bill and on the introduction of amendments from the floor or of any amendments other than those from the sponsoring committee.
*cloture rule / Rule 22 of the Senate, providing for the end of debate on a bill if three-fifths of the members agree. A cloture motion is brought to the floor if sixteen senators sign a petition. The purpose is typically to terminate a filibuster and to force a vote on a bill.
Committee of the Whole / A device used in the House of Representatives to expedite the passage of legislation. The quorum is reduced from 218 members to 100, and the Speaker appoints a member of the majority party as chair. Time allotted for debating the bill in question is split equally between proponents and opponents. The committee cannot itself pass legislation but may debate and propose amendments.
*concurrent resolution / A resolution used to settle housekeeping and procedural matters that affect both houses. Such resolutions are not signed by the president and do not have the force of law.
*conference committee / A special type of joint committee appointed to resolve differences in House and Senate versions of a piece of legislation.
Congress / A meeting place of representatives of local constituencies who can initiate, modify, approve, or reject laws. It also shares supervision of government agencies with the executive.
Congressional Budget Office / Created in 1974 to advise Congress on the economic effects of spending programs, to provide information on the cost of proposed policies, and to prepare analyses of the president’s budget proposal.
Congressional Research Service / Created in 1914 to respond to congressional requests for information. It also keeps track of every major bill and produces summaries of legislation for members of Congress.
*conservative coalition / A vote in Congress in which conservative Democrats join with Republicans.
*descriptive representation / A term coined by Hanna Pitkin to refer to the statistical correspondence of the demographic characteristics of representatives with those of their constituents.
*discharge petition / A procedure for removing legislation from the control of a committee and bringing it to the floor for immediate consideration. In the House, the petition must contain the names of 218 members to succeed. In the Senate, any member may move to discharge a bill from committee, but the petition requires a majority vote to succeed.
*division vote / (also known as a standing vote) A method of voting used in both houses in which members stand and are counted.
*double-tracking / A method to keep the Senate going during a filibuster, whereby a disputed bill is temporarily shelved so that the Senate can go on with other business.
*filibuster / A prolonged speech or series of speeches made to delay action on legislation in the Senate. The purpose is to kill the measure by talking it to death.
*franking privilege / The ability of members of Congress to mail letters to their constituents free of charge by substituting their facsimile signature (frank) for postage.
General Accounting Office / Created in 1921 to perform routine audits of the money spent by executive departments. It also investigates agencies and makes recommendations on every aspect of government.
*gerrymandering / Drawing congressional district lines in a bizarre or unusual shape to make it easy for a candidate of one party to win elections in that district.
honoraria / Speaking fees accepted by members of Congress. The House has forbidden its members to accept honoraria, while the Senate has limited such income.
*joint committee / Committee on which both representatives and senators serve.
*joint resolution / A resolution requiring approval of both houses and the signature of the president and having the same legal status as a law.
*majority leader / The legislative leader elected by party members holding the majority of seats in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
*majority-minority districts / Congressional districts designed to make it easier for minority citizens to elect minority representatives. These districts are drawn so that the majority of their voters are minorities.
*malapportionment / The creation of congressional districts in a state which are of unequal size. The Supreme Court in 1964 eliminated the practice by requiring that all districts in a state contain about the same number of people.
*marginal district / A congressional district in which the winner of the general election gets less than 55 percent of the vote. Such districts could easily switch to the other party in the next election.
mark-up / Revisions and additions to legislation made by committees and subcommittees.
*minority leader / The head of the minority party in each house of Congress chosen by the caucus of the minority party. This person formulates the minority party’s strategy and program.
*multiple referral / The practice of referring a bill to several committees. Following 1995 reforms, these can only be done sequentially (one committee acting after another’s deliberations have finished) or by assigning distinct portions of the bill to different committees. These reforms applied only to the House; the Senate has had few difficulties with multiple referrals.
*open rule / A rule from the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives which permits amendments from the floor on a particular piece of legislation.
organizational view of representation / The theory of congressional voting behavior which assumes that members make voting decisions to please fellow members and obtain their goodwill. Such behavior is possible since constituents seldom know how their representatives vote. Members vote by following cues provided by colleagues.
parliament / An assembly of party representatives which chooses a government and discusses major national issues. Tight party discipline usually regulates the voting behavior of members.
*party unity vote / The extent to which members of a party vote together in the House and Senate. By any measure, the extent of such voting has fluctuated and is lower now than at the turn of the century, although a slow but steady increase has developed since 1972.
*pork-barrel legislation / A bill introduced by a member of Congress that gives tangible benefits, like a highway or bridge, to constituents in the hopes of winning votes in return.
president pro tempore / A position created in the Constitution to serve as presiding officer of the Senate in the absence of the vice president.
*private bill / Legislation that pertains to a particular individual, such as a person pressing a financial claim against the government or seeking special permission to become a naturalized citizen.
*public bill / Legislation that pertains to public affairs generally.
*quorum / The minimum number of representatives required to be in attendance to conduct official business.
*quorum call / A calling of the roll in either house of Congress to see whether there is a quorum present.
representational view of representation / The theory of congressional voting behavior that assumes that members make voting decisions based on their perception of constituents’ wishes to ensure their own reelection. A correlation between district attitudes and members’ votes has been found on issues of importance to constituents (e.g., civil rights and social welfare) but not on issues of remote concern to constituents (foreign policy).
*restrictive rule / A rule from the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives which permits certain amendments to a piece of legislation but not others.
*rider / A nongermane amendment to an important bill. It is added so the measure will “ride” to passage through the Congress. When a bill has lots of riders, it is called a Christmas tree bill.
*roll-call vote / A method of voting used in both houses in which members answer yea or nay when their names are called. These votes are recorded and occur in the House at the request of 20 percent of its members.
Rules Committee / In the House of Representatives, the committee that decides which bills come up for a vote, in what order, and under what restrictions on length of debate and on the right to offer amendments. The Senate Rules and Administration Committee, by contrast, possesses few powers. Instead, the Senate majority leader organizes floor debate by negotiating unanimous consent agreements.
safe district / A congressional district in which the winner of the general election carries more than 55 percent of the vote. Most House districts are safe and are carried by incumbents with wide margins.
*select committee / Congressional committee appointed for a limited time period and purpose.
senatorial courtesy / The tradition observed in the Senate in which the president is expected to consult with senators, if they are in the president’s party, when a federal office appointment is to be made in their state.
*sequential referral / See multiple referral.
Seventeenth Amendment / A constitutional amendment ratified in 1913 requiring the popular election of U.S. senators. Senators were previously chosen by state legislatures.
*simple resolution / A resolution passed by either house to establish internal chamber rules. It is not signed by the president and has no legal force.
*sophomore surge / An increase in the number of votes candidates receive between their first time elected and their first time reelected.
Speaker of the House / The constitutionally mandated presiding officer of the House of Representatives. The Speaker is chosen in the caucus of the majority party and is empowered to recognize members to speak on the floor, to rule whether a motion is germane, to assign bills to committee, to appoint House members to select and joint committees, and to appoint the majority members of the Rules Committee.
*standing committees / The permanent committees of each house with the power to report bills.
*substantive representation / A term coined by Hanna Pitkin to refer to the correspondence between representatives’ opinions and those of their constituents.
*teller vote / A method of voting used only in the House. Members’ votes are counted by having them pass between two tellers, first the yeas and then the nays. Since 1971, teller votes are recorded at the request of twenty members.
*voice vote / A method of voting used in both houses in which members vote by shouting yea or nay.
*whip / Members of the party leadership in each house who help the party leader stay informed about what party members are thinking, rounds up members when important votes are to be taken, and attempts to keep a nose count of how the voting on a controversial issue is likely to go.