Bicameral (G 269)

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

Casework (G 267)

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 (G 272) See “Committees” above

Filibuster (G 279)

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

Gerrymandering (G 261)

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


            More than half.

Majority leader (G271)

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 (G271)

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 whips (G271)

Members of Congress who support 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.

Pork barrel legislation (G 262)

"Pork barrel" came into use as a political term in the post-Civil War era. The term comes from the plantation practice of distributing rations of salt pork to slaves from wooden barrels. When used to describe a bill, it implies that the legislation is loaded with special projects for members of Congress to distribute to their constituents back home at the cost of the federal taxpayer.

Select, or special, committees (G 272) See “Committees” above

Seniority system (G274) See “Committees” above

Speaker of the House (G 270)

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.