Congress Flashcards Preview

USA POLITICS > Congress > Flashcards

Flashcards in Congress Deck (27)
Loading flashcards...

How many members are there in the Senate and the House?

There are 100 members of the senate, 435 members of the House of Representatives.


What is the term for a legislature made up of 2 chambers?

The term for a legislature made up of 2 chambers is a bicameral legislature.


What is a presidential veto? Give examples.

A presidential veto is the power of the President to refuse to approve a bill thus preventing its enactment. The president has 10 days to sign a bill passed by Congress. This can only be overridden by a ⅔ majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives

For example:
In 2016 Obama's “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” was overwhelmingly rejected. This bill allows relatives of the victims of 9/11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.

In 2016 Obama vetoed the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, which repealed parts of the Affordable Care Act and ended federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Override attempt failed in House, 241–186 (285 votes needed).


What is impeachment? Give examples.

Impeachment is a charge of misconduct made against the President. The Constitution gives only the House of Representatives “the sole Power of Impeachment”. After impeachment by the House there is a trial in the Senate that requires a 2/3 super-majority to convict and remove from office.

For example:
Donald Trump was impeached in 2021, on the charge of incitement of insurrection. This was acquitted. Although 57 of the 100 senators voted guilty, a supermajority is needed.

Thomas Porteous was impeached in 2010, on charges of accepting bribes and making false statements under penalty of perjury. He was found guilty; removed from office and disqualified from holding future office.


What is a filibuster? Give examples.

A filibuster is a device by which senators can delay action on a bill or any other matter by debating it at length or by other obstructive methods. A senator majority can end a filibuster by adopting a cloture motion. A vote for cloture requires the support of 60 senators.

In 2013, 80% of the American public supported background checks for guns but the bill didn't pass because it was filibustered by republicans.

In 2013 Ted Cruz filibustered to try and block implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Although only partially a filibuster as the Senate had ended debate earlier so Cruz was no longer blocking anything, he still spoke for 21 hours.


What is congressional oversight? Give examples.

Congressional oversight is oversight by Congress over the Executive Branch, including the review of policy implementation. Congress exercises this power largely through its congressional committee system. Protects civil liberties, prevents wasteful spending and general misconduct.

For example:
Through congressional oversight it was declared that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's priorities were misplaced. He was unwilling to come before Congress and allow proper congressional oversight, so it was advised that he step down. He later resigned.

Members of oversight are often preoccupied with the hot issues of the day, and more interested in the politics than the substance of most issues. Even on recognizably important issues, if there is no political incentive in going into the details of the issue, attention is scant. Work by the intelligence community on Iraq, for example, was scrutinised in excruciating detail after the Bush administration's war, but there was very little attention before the war began.


What is the 'power of the purse'? Give examples.

The 'power of the purse' is the ability to tax and spend public money for the Federal Government. Bills which involve raising revenue start in the House of Representatives. The idea was to give this power to the House, as it was the only part of Congress that was directly elected. The core of the budget is presented to Congress by the President, however Congress can add amendments.

For example:
The power of the purse ended the Vietnam War, through the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which suspended all federal funding for the war.


How do the terms of office for the Senate and the House differ?

Senators serve 6 year terms, whereas members of the House of Representatives serve 2 year terms.


What percentage of Congress is female?

In 2020 there 126 women in Congress, so 23.6%.


What are majority - minority districts?

Majority-minority districts describes a subdivision in which a racial or religious minority makes up a majority of the local population.


Why are majority - minority districts important?

Majority - minority districts are important as they effectively ensure the election of minorities to legislative bodies when they represent a certain area. Some view majority-minority districts as a way to dilute the voting power of minorities and to racially segregate.


What is gerrymandering?

Gerrymandering is the manipulation of an electoral constituency's boundaries so as to favour one party.


What is the role of the speaker of the House?

The speaker of the House is responsible for giving Members permission to speak on the House floor, counting and declaring all votes, appointing Members to committees, sending bills etc.


What are majority and minority leaders?

Majority leaders represent the party holding the majority of seats in the House and Senate, while the minority leaders represent the opposing party.


What are standing committees?

Standing committees are permanent legislative panels established by Congress. Standing committees scrutinise bills, consider issues and recommend measures for consideration by their respective chambers.


What is the House Rules Committee?

The House Rules Committee is responsible for the rules under which bills will be presented to the House of Representatives. Unlike other committees, which often deal with a specific area of policy. They also have oversight responsibility to monitor agencies, programs, and activities within their jurisdictions.


Why are the House Rules Committee important?

The House Rules Committee is important as it is one of the most powerful committees. It influences the introduction and process of legislation through the House.


What is 'pork barrel politics'?

Pork-barrel politics is the legislator's practice of slipping funding for a local project into a budget. The project may have nothing to do with the bill and may benefit only the legislator's home district. Before a bill gets to a vote, pork-barrelling has often greatly inflated its costs through the addition of various legislators' pet projects.


Can Congress override a ruling of the Supreme Court.

Congress can only overturn a Supreme Court decision by creating a new Constitutional Amendment or by passing a new version of a law. They can threaten them with legislation.

For example:
Franklin Roosevelt threatened increase the size of the Supreme Court to get a majority that would side with him on the new deal, using his large majority in Congress to his advantage.


What is partisanship?

Partisanship is where members of one party regularly group together to oppose members of another party, characterised by strong party discipline and little cooperation between parties.


What is bi-partisanship?

Bi-partisanship is the agreement or cooperation between two political parties that usually oppose each other's policies.


What is the trustee model?

The trustee model is when a constituency chooses their representative in Congress. The people entrust the person they choose with the duty of making significant decisions on their behalf.


What is the delegate model?

The delegate model is understood as parallel to the trustee model of representation. While it gives the trustee all the rights and the powers to make the decisions on behalf of the people, delegation sees the representative as the mouthpiece of the people.


What is a party unity vote?

Party unity voting occurs when representatives vote with their party.


What is a committee system?

A committee system involves discussion by a committee, specifically a parliamentary or legislative system in which committees play an integral part.


What is meant by the term 'ratify'?

'Ratify' is to sign or give formal consent to (a treaty, contract, or agreement), making it officially valid.


Why might some people view congress as ineffective?

-Approval rate of congress is only 10%.
-Each member represents 1750 people so there is less chance of direct representation.
-Most districts are heavily gerrymandered.