Legislative Branch

Bicameral Legislature

A two-house legislature.1. Senate2. House of Representatives

Congress is bicameral because the Framers ..........................

sought a compromise on the issue of state representation in Congress

House of Representatives Qualifications

25 years oldCitizen 7 years

HOR term

2 years

Senate Qualifications

30 years oldCitizen 9 years

Senate term

6 years

Expressed powers

Congress in Article 1, Section 8, Clauses 1-18 also called enumerated powers.

Necessary and proper clause

Implies that Congress has powers beyond those expressed in the first 17 clausesThe last clause of Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution. This clause grants Congress the authority to make all laws that are "necessary and proper" and to execute those laws.

Implied Powers

Allows Congress to expand its role to meet the needs of a growing nation


The drawing(cheating) of legislative district boundaries to benefit a party, group, or incumbent

Senate Leaders

1.Vice President2. President pro-temp3. Majority and minority leaders4. Majority and minority whips

House of Representatives Leaders

1. Speaker of the house2. Majority and minority leaders and whips

Standing Committee

Permanent committee in both house and senate

Select Committee

Temporary committee created for a purpose(Ex. Intel, ethics, Indian Affairs, Aging)

Joint Committee

Permanent, house and senate work togetherJoint committees do not have any legislative authority; they monitor specific activities and compile reports.(Ex. only 4: library, economic, printing, taxation)

Conference Committee

Temporary committee, house and senate work on proposed bills

Majority Leader

The formal leader of the party controlling a majority of the seats in the House or the Senate. In the Senate the majority leader is the head of the majority party. In the House the majority leader ranks second in the party hierarchy behind the Speaker.

Minority Leader

The formal leader of the party controlling a minority of the seats in the House or the Senate.

President Pro Tempore

In the absence of the vice president, the formal presiding officer of the Senate. The honor is usually conferred on the senior member of the majority party, but the post is sometimes rotated among senators of the majority party.

Seniority Rule

The congressional practice of appointing as a committee or subcommittee chairs the members of the majority with the most years of committee service.

Speaker of the House

The only officer of the House of Representatives specifically mentioned in the Constitution; the chamber's most powerful position; traditionally a member of the majority party.


A member of a legislative party who acts as the communicator between the party leadership and the rank and file. The whip polls members on their voting intentions, prepares bill summaries, and assists the leadership in various other tasks.

INCUMBENCY: An incumbent is the person presently occupying a political office, who may or may not run for re-election. Congressional incumbents have a high re-election rate. Scholars believe this is because American voters may dislike Congress, but usually like their congressperson.

The Power of Incumbency:From 2000 to 2008, incumbent re-election rate averaged 95% for the U.S. House of Representatives and 85 % for the Senate.

The incumbency advantage

Has facilitated the growth in congressional careerists.Is an advantage to candidates in terms of fundraising.Perpetuates the two party system.

The leadership of the Senate consists of

The president pro Tempore and party leaders

How many members are there in the US House of Representatives


The hold system in the Senate has been under attack in the recent years because

Two thirds of deals in the Senate used holdsHolds have derailed presidential appointmentsOf accusations of undue Influence from lobbyists and constituents

Which committee of the House of Representatives is not duplicated in the Senate and set restrictions on when and how bills will be considered

The rules committee

Powers of Congress are...

Enumerated Powers:Declare warProvide for MilitiaLay and collect taxes and dutiesRegulate commerce


Already holding an office.

Party Caucus (or conference)

A formal gathering of all party members.


An elected representative who acts as a trustee or as a delegate, depending on the issue.


A procedure that allows consideration of controversial issues affecting the budget by limiting debate to 20 hours, thereby ending threat of a filibuster.


The process of redrawing congressional districts to reflect increases or decreases in seats allotted to the states, as well as population shifts within a state.

Senatorial Courtesy

A process by which presidents generally allow senators from the state in which a judicial vacancy occurs to block a nomination by simply registering their objection.


Time of continuous service on a committee.


Role played by an elected representative who listens to constituents' opinions and then uses his or her best judgment to make a final decision.


The formal, constitutional authority of the president to reject bills passed by both houses of Congress, thus preventing them from becoming law without further congressional action.

Pocket Veto

If Congress adjourns during the ten days the president has to consider a bill passed by both houses of Congress, the bill is considered vetoed without the president's signature.


A procedure by which a senator asks to be informed before a particular bill or nomination is brought to the floor. This request signals leadership that a member may have obligations to the bill (or nomination) and should be consulted before further action is taken.


Role played by an elected representative who votes the way his or her constituents would want, regardless of personal opinions.

How a bill becomes a law

Introduction of billsCommittee considerationcalendars & schedulinghouse floorSenate floorExecutive business in the SenateBicameral ResolutionPresidential Actions

The Constitutional Convention resulted in what form of legislature?


In the House of Representatives, who is second in authority to the Speaker of the House?

majority leader

A __________ is a special committee created to reconcile differences in bills passed by the House and Senate.

Conference committee

How might a bill become law if it has been pocket vetoed?

The bill must be reintroduced in the next session of Congress.

What occurs during the appropriations process?

Congress grants funds to federal agencies and programs.

The true leader of the Senate is the __________, elected by the majority party.

majority leader

The role of Senate minority leader is important because __________.

he or she represents the opposition in negotiations with the majority leader

In the House of Representatives, the __________ decides who will speak on the floor, and rules on points of order.


According to the trustee model of representation, legislators are __________.

trusted by their constituents because they are natives of their home districts

In which event was there congressional oversight?

the Watergate scandal

A __________ is one tactic to signal the leadership that a Senate member may have objections to a bill.


Which statement about incumbency is most accurate?

Incumbents have a huge advantage in reelection.

shrinking of the middle

No moderates due to gerrymandering and the big sort