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American Government – Chapter 12 Essay

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When does Congress convene?
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Every 2 years on January 3rd, every odd-numbered year.
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Why are all members of the House considered representatives-elect on opening day?
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All 435 of its seats are up for election every 2 years.
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Who presides during opening day in the House?
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Clerk of the House of the preceding term is Speaker until a new Speaker is chosen.
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Actions of the Clerk of the House
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Calls chamber to order / Checks role of representative’s elect / Swears in speaker.
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Actions of the Speaker of the House
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Takes oath of office / Swears in the rest of the members in the body / Sees that committees get sworn in.
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Actions of the Dean of the House
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Administers the Oath of Office of the Speaker of the House.
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Actions of the other members of the House
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Elects its Clerk, Parliamentarian, Sergeant at Arms, Chief Administrative Officer, & Chaplain / Adapt House rules / Appoint numbers of 20 permanent (standing) committees by floor vote.
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Why is the election of the Speaker and the other officers of the House only a formality?
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They’re already mostly selected by the majority party.
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What actions take in the Senate on opening day?
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Newly elected & reelected members must be sworn in.
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Why is opening day in the Senate fairly short and routine compared to the same day in the House?
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Vacancies in the Senate & on committees must be filled / Because 2/3 membership is carried over from one term to the next / Only 1/3 is new & needs to be taken care of.
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What is the State of the Union message?
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Presidential address / Message to Congress (used to be written, now it’s a speech).
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How is the Speaker of the House chosen?
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Elected by members.
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How is the President of the Senate chosen?
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By constituent (is the Vice President).
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Is the Speaker of the House a member of the body?
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Yes.
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Is the President of the Senate a member of the body?
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No.
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What are the duties and the powers of the Speaker of the House?
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Chair / Recognize rules / Order / Refers / Put to vote / Decides outcome.
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What are the duties and the powers of the President of the Senate?
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Recognizes members / Puts to vote / Has others preside.
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Is the Speaker of the House able to debate?
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Yes (rarely).
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Is the President of the Senate able to debate?
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No.
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Is the Speaker of the House able to vote?
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Yes (rarely).
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Is the President of the Senate able to vote?
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Only to break a tie.
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Which position is more powerful: Speaker of the House or President of the Senate?
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Speaker of the House.
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What is the role of the President pro tempore?
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Serves as a provider when the vice president is absent.
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What is the purpose of the party caucuses?
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Deal with party organizational matters like committee heads, membership, and strategy.
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Describe the role of the floor leader.
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Steer floor action.
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Describe the role of the whips.
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Act like floor leaders, liaison / Check on vote of party members / Ensure attendance for key votes.
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Describe the role of the committee chairmen.
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Head standing committee meetings / Discharge bills for vote / Manage debate.
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What is seniority rule?
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Custom: President asks Senator from candidate’s state for recommendation on appointment (longest serving members in high positions).
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What are standing committees?
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Permanent committees.
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How many standing committees are there in the House?
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20.
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How many standing committees are there in the Senate?
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16.
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Why are standing committees so important?
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Where bills get consideration / Members usually respect committee recommendations & decisions / Bill’s fate usually decided in committee.
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How is membership in the standing committees determined?
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Elected by floor vote at beginning of term / Floor vote ratifies committee choices / Majority party in each house gets majority of seats.
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What are subcommittees, and how many of them are there?
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Divisions of standing committees which do most of the committee’s work / Responsible for portion of committee’s work.
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Why is the House Rules Committee often called the “traffic cop”?
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Before bills can reach the floor, they must also clear the Rules Committee / Controls “flow of bill and speed of travel” through the House.
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What congressional function do select committees often exercise?
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Oversight function.
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What are joint committees?
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Members of both House & Senate.
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Name four permanent joint committees.
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Joint Economic Committee / Library Committee / Printing Committee / Taxation Committee.
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What is the role of conference committees in the lawmaking process?
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Iron out differences between House & Senate bills.
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Where do bills originate?
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Only a member of Congress may introduce a bill in either House / Bills usually originate in the Executive Branch, with special interest groups.
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Which bills must always originate in the House?
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Tax bills.
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Define public bills.
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Nation as a whole.
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Define private bills.
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Certain persons or places.
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Define joint resolutions.
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Force of law / Unusual or temporary matters or have been used to annex territory or propose an amendment.
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Define concurrent resolutions.
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Measures on which House & Senate must act jointly / Do NOT have force of law / State position.
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Define resolutions.
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Measures pertinent to either house alone / Used for procedural matters or amendment to a bill.
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Define riders.
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Provision not likely to pass on its own & will if attached to important measure / “earmark” / “pork”.
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Who decides which committee will get a bill?
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Speaker of the House.
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In what way do standing committees act as “sieves”?
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Sift through all the proposed bills.
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How does a discharge petition affect a pigeonholed bill?
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Forces a bill out of a committee.
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What generally happens after a bill reaches a committee?
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Chairmen refers it to sub committees / Holds public hearings in sub committees (can be one or many).
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What are the five actions that a committee may take on a bill?
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Report favorably / Refuse to report it / Report amended version / Report unfavorably / Create committee’s own bill.
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What are the five calendar systems in the House?
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Union, House, Private, Corrections, Discharge.
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What is the role of the Rules Committee in bringing a bill to the floor of the House?
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Grant a rule to allow bill to reach floor (no rule -> dead bill) / Rule can authorize limits on debate.
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What is the Committee of the Whole, and how does it speed business on the floor?
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ALL members sit as one big committee / Less strict / Faster paced / Only need 100 members to do business.
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How does the large size of the House affect floor debate?
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Must limit talk time (one hour each) / Must have unanimous consent to exceed time.
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What action can a member of the House take to close debate?
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Move the previous question.
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Why may a bill be the subject of several votes on the floor?
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On amendments or procedural matters.
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What are the four methods for taking floor votes? Which of the methods are now handled electronically?
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Voice, Standing, Teller, and Roll Call (record). Telling and Roll Calling are done electronically.
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Briefly describe the final steps in the House after a bill has been approved at second reading.
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Engrossed (printed) / Read a third time by title and a final vote is taken / Bill is signed by Speaker of the House.
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How do the Senate’s procedures for getting a bill onto the floor differ from the House’s procedures?
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Only one calendar / Bills called to floor by Senate majority leader / No Rules Committee.
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Why is the Senate often called “the greatest deliberative body in the world?”
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Unrestrained debate (as long as they want).
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What is a unanimous consent agreement?
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Effective agreement if no one objects.
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What is the Senate’s “two-speech rule”?
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No Senator can speak more than twice on a question on the same day.
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What is the purpose of a filibuster?
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To delay or prevent Senate action.
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How can the Senate stop a filibuster?
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Invoking cloture (16 Senators submit petitions to invoke cloture & 60 vote for cloture).
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Describe at least one benefit of filibusters.
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Protect minority / Prevent haste.
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Why have filibusters been more common in recent years?
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Party control of Senate is tight / Require 60 (not majority) to pass bill.
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Describe what happens if the House and Senate pass different versions of a bill.
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Turn over to conference committee.
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Why have conference committees been described as “the third house of Congress”?
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Decisions made here.
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Describe the President’s options when receiving a bill from Congress.
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Sign bill / Veto bill / Pocket veto (measure dies if Congress adjourns within ten days) / Allows to become law without acting or signing.
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Why is the veto power such an effective tool in the President’s dealings with Congress?
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Checks & balances.