Congress Terms

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Provide a paragraph for each term that includes a world life example.

1. Appropriation: money that Congress has allocated to be spent.

2. Appropriations Committee: congressional committee that deals with federal spending.

3. Appellate jurisdiction: authority of a court to hear an appeal from a lower court.

4. Bully Pulpit: any highly visible public office whose incumbent uses it as a platform to influence public opinion. Primarily connected with the president.

5. Bureaucracy: departments, agencies, bureaus, and commissions in the executive branch of government.

6. Casework: personal work done by a member of Congress for his constituents.

7. Civil law: concerns noncriminal disputes between private parties.

8. Class action lawsuit: lawsuit brought on behalf of a class of people against a defendant, e.g., lawsuits brought by those who have suffered from smoking against tobacco companies.

9. Closed rule: Rules Committee rule that bans amendments to a bill.

10. Cloture: Senate motion to end a filibuster that requires a 3/5 vote.

11. Concurring opinion: written by a Supreme Court Justice who voted with the majority, but for different reasons.

12. Conference committee: works out a compromise between differing House-Senate versions of a bill.

13. Constituents: the people who are represented by elected officials.

14. Discharge petition: a motion to force a bill to the House floor that has been bottled up in committee.

15. Dissenting opinion: written by a Supreme Court Justice (or Justices) who express a minority viewpoint in a case.

16. Executive agreement: an agreement between the President and another head of state that, unlike a treaty, does not require Senate consent.

17. Executive order: presidential rule or regulation that has the force of law.

18. Executive privilege: the privilege of a President and his staff to withhold their “privileged” conversations from Congress or the courts.

19. Filibuster: nonstop Senate debate that prevents a bill from coming to a vote.

20. Finance Committee: Senate committee that handles tax bills.

21. Franking privilege: allows members of Congress to send mail postage free.

22. Gerrymandering: redrawing district lines to favor one party at the expense of the other.

23. Hold: Senate maneuver that allows a Senator to stop or delay consideration of a bill or presidential appointment.

24. Impeachment: House action that formally charges an official with wrongdoing. Conviction requires 2/3 vote from the Senate.

25. Impoundment: refusal of a President to spend money that has been appropriated by Congress.

26. Injunction: court order that forbids a party from performing a certain action.

27. Judicial activism: philosophy that the courts should take an active role in solving problems.

28. Judicial restraint: philosophy that the courts should defer to elected lawmakers in setting policy, and should instead focus on interpreting law rather than making law.

29. Judicial review: power of the courts to review the constitutionality of laws or government actions.

30. Legislative oversight: ongoing process of congressional monitoring of the executive branch to ensure that the latter complies with the law.

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