SB Chapter 9 Congress Definitions in Alphabetical Order


Bicameral (SB 217)

Refers to a legislature that is divided into two separate houses, such as the U.S. Congress.

Casework (SB 219)

Work done by members of Congress to provide constituents with personal services and help through the maze of federal programs and benefits. Casework is meant benefit the public as a whole as well as individuals.

Conference committees (SB 233)

Temporary joint committees.  Before a bill can be sent to the President, the House of Representatives and the Senate must agree on the bill. The conference committee works out any differences that they may have. This is sometimes called the “third house of congress”.

Filibuster (SB 222)

A prolonged debate in the Senate that is intended to kill a bill by preventing a vote.

Gerrymandering (SB 226-228, SB 231)

Drawing of a strangely shaped congressional district to give an advantage to a particular party, faction, or race.

Logrolling (SB 217)  An agreement between two or more members of a legislature before

            votes are taken to support each other’s bills.  Also called backscratching or horsetrading. Often leads to pork barrel legislation.


More than half.

Majority leader (SB 234-236)

Both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have a majority leader that is elected by each majority party’s members. The majority leaders plan the order of business on the floor and direct the daily business of the house. The Speaker the House is the top administrative officer of the House, while in the Senate the Majority Leader is the top administrator.

Minority leader ( SB 234, SB 236-237)

The head of the minority party in the Senate. Also the leader of the minority party in the House, who represents its interests by consulting with the Speaker and majority leader over the scheduling of bills and rules for floor action.

Party whip (SB 236-237)

Member of Congress who assists the party leaders in the House and Senate by communicating the party position to the membership and keeping the leaders informed of members’ views. Party whips are assistants to the majority and minority leaders.

Select, or special, committees (SB 233)

Temporary committees that are designed to discuss a particular committee bill. Either House of Representatives or Senate holds these committees.

Seniority system (SB 234)

tradition through which the member of the majority party with the longest service on a committee becomes its chair.

Speaker of the House (SB 234-235)

The only House position created by the Constitution. The Speaker is chosen by a vote of the majority party and is the presiding officer of the House of Representatives, the leader of its majority party, and second in line to succeed the president.