Congress

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Is the US Congress bicameral?
Yes
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What are the two chambers of Congress?
The Senate and the House of Representatives
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Who does the HoR represent?
The people
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What does the Senate represent?
The states
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Which is the lower chamber of Congress?
House of Representatives
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Which is the upper chamber of Congress?
Senate
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How are states represented in the HoR?
Based on population
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How are states represented in the Senate?
2 Senators per state
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How many members are there in the HoR?
435
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How many members are there in the HoR?
100
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How long is the term for a member of the HoR?
2 years
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How long is the term for a senator?
6 years
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How often are states reapportioned?
Every 10 years
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Why are the terms in the HoR so short?
In order to remain in line with public opinion
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Which chamber is majoritarian?
The HoR
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What type of atmosphere is there in the HoR?
A partisan atmosphere
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Who becomes speaker in the HoR?
The leader of the majority
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What does the composition of the Senate allow?
The voice of smaller states to be heard
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What happens in mid-terms?
One third of the Senate is re-elected and so is the whole of the HoR.
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Why is the HoR majoritarian?
Because the states with the largest populations have the greatest say.
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Who is speaker in the HoR?
John Bainer
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What is the disadvantage to such a short term in the HoR?
You are very closely scrutinised and have to continuously fund raise
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What do many members of the HoR do to gain popularity?
Sit on committees with a strong relevance to their states i.e rural areas and agricultural committees and seek pork.
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What is acquiring pork?
Where you bring home money to your state from government
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What is the biggest form of pork?
Federal contracts
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What are federal contracts?
Where the government funds a project that also creates jobs in your state.
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What is log rolling?
Where senators bribe other senators to vote on their policy
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What is the atmosphere in Senate?
A collegiate atmosphere
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What is generally classed as the most important chamber?
Senate
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Which chamber is more aware of policy?
Senate
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How old do you have to be to run for the HoR?
25
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How long do you have had to have lived in the US for to run for the HoR?
7 years
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Do you have to live in the state you represent if you run for a congress?
Yes
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How old do you have to be to run for Senate?
30
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How long do you have to live in the USA to run for Senate?
9 years
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When are Mid terms held?
The day after the first Monday in November to avoid thanksgiving
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What do you need to do in order to run for Congress?
Secure a nomination from one of the two major parties
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What is a primary?
An election to choose a party candidate for an elective office
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What is a caucus?
A meeting for the selection of a candidate for an elective office
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In Mid terms who hold the advantage?
Incumbents
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What is an incumbent?
A person up for re-election so somebody who had already holds that position
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What topics tend to dominate congressional elections?
Local issues not national issues
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What is the coat-tails effect?
When a strong candidate for presidency helps other party candidates to get elected
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What is split-ticket voting?
Voting for members of different parties for different positions in the same election
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What does article one of the congress say?
All legislative powers reside in Congress
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What powers does congress have?
Power to levy taxes, power to regulate international and interstate commerce, to pass legislation to conduct investigations into the executive to initiate constitutional amendments, to confirm the appointment of the VP and power to declare war.
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What are the exclusive powers held by the HoR?
The power of the purse (to begin consideration of all money bills), to impeach any member of the executive or judiciary and to elect the president if the electoral college is in deadlock
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When was the last government shutdown?
2013
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Why do shutdowns usually occur?
Over budgets, the HoR has the power of the purse.
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What are the exclusive powers of the Senate?
To ratify all treaties negotiated by the president, to confirm appointments made by the president, to try cases of impeachment and to elect the VP if the electoral college is found in deadlock
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What majority is needed in the Senate to ratify a treaty?
2/3 majority
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What type of majority is needed in Senate to confirm appointments?
A simple majority
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What majority is needed in the Senate to impeach someone?
2/3 majority
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Who is the current speaker in the HoR?
Paul Ryan
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Who came before Paul Ryan?
John Boehner
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Why was John Boehner forced to resign?
According to Republicans he did not criticise planned parenthood enough
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What are the roles of the speaker?
Act as presiding officer in the house, interpret and enforce rules of the house and decide on points of order, refer bills to standing committees, appoint select committee and conference committee chair & put majority members to House Rules Committes
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Is the speaker impartial?
No, they have become leader of the opposition and so act in line with their party wishes
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Who was the speaker under Bill Clinton?
Newt Gingrich
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Was Newt Gingrich a Democrat?
No, a Republican
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Who is the minority leader in the House?
Nancy Pelosi
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Who is the majority leader in the Senate?
Mitch McConnell
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Who is the minority leader in the Senate?
Harry Reid
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Who is the majority leader in the HoR?
Kevin McCarthy
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How are leaders of the majority and minority elected?
By respective party groups every two years
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What are the roles of leaders in the house/senate?
Act as director of operations on a daily basis on the floor of their houses, to hold press briefings to talk of their party's policy and agenda and to act as a liaison between the house/senate and the white house
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What did an academic compare committee chairs to?
A ‘toll bridge attendant who argues and bargains with each prospective customer; who lets his friend go free, who will not let his enemies pass at any price’.
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How were chairmen traditionally appointed?
On the base of their seniority and expertise
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What is the problem with appointing chairs based on their seniority?
It rewards longevity over merit
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Who appoints committee chairs?
Speaker of the House
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Who changed the way in which committee chairs were appointed?
Newt Gingrich
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How did Newt Gingrich appoint committee chairs?
Based on their commitment to the Contract With America
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Who wrote the Contract with America?
Newt Gingrich
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What was the Contract with America?
The Republican 1994 election manifesto
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How many Republicans signed the Contract with America?
All but two
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Which committee supported the Contract With America?
The House Republican Steering Committee
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What was Newt Gingrich's use of the Contract With America an example of??
Partisanship
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How was any Republican too accommodating to the Democrats treated by Gingrich?
They were overlooked for any position
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What reform to committee chairs did Gingrich make?
He imposed a 6 year term on them
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What committee was the only exception to the 6 year term limit of committee chairs?
The House Rules Committee
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What is usually the pinnacle of a Congressman's career?
Chairmanships
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Since Gingrich how have committee chairs been appointed?
Once again based on seniority
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Who is the current House Rules Committee Chair?
Pete Sessions
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Who is the House Ways and Means Committee chair?
Kevin Brady
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Who is the Senate Armed Services Committee chair?
John McCain
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Who is the Senate Intelligence Committee Chair?
Richard Burr
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When was the last government shutdown?
2013
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What do government shutdowns show?
That the power of the purse does truly lie in the HoR
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How long are Senator's terms?
Six years long
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Who elects the president if there is deadlock in the electoral college?
The HoR
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What is required to impeach someone?
A two thirds majority in both houses
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Who was the last president to be elected by the HoR due to deadlock?
John Quincy Adams
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Who appoints committee chairs?
The speaker of the house
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Who was arguably the leader of the opposition during Clinton's presidency?
Newt Gingrich
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Who elects minority and majority leaders?
Groups within their party
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What are the powers of committee chairmen?
To pigeonhole bills, rewrite bills, promote bills, run their own fiefdoms and become a part of an iron triangle
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Give an example of a committee that has only an advisory function
The Select Committee on Energy and Global Warming
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What are the restrictions imposed on committee chairmen?
Term limits, disregard for seniority and rewards for loyalty, speakers can intervene directly in committee proceedings
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How many black senators are there?
Two
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How many black members of Congress are there?
Forty three
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What percentage of the population are black?
12..3%
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What percentage of the US' counties are now majority minority?
Eleven
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What religion is Harry Reid?
Mormon
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What year was the first Muslim elected to Congress?
2006
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Who was the first Muslim to ever be elected to Congress?
Keith Ellison
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Who were the first Buddhists elected to Congress?
Mazie Hirono and Hank Johnson
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Who was the first ever Italian-American speaker?
Nancy Pelosi
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Give an example of a Congressman who has represented his constituents
Michael Capuano in advocating asylum seeking cases
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What does article 1 section 7 of the constitution require?
All bills passed by Congress to be signed by the president
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What can the president do if they do not support a bill?
Refuse to sign it or veto it
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How can a presidential veto be overridden?
Using a 2/3 majority of both chambers
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Since 1952 how many elections resulted in divided control?
16 out of 25
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How many times did GWB use his presidential veto?
Twelve times
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How many of GWB's vetoes were overriden
Four
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In the 1990's what fraction of voters split their votes?
A quarter
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Give an example of a committee pigeonholing a bill
The Epinephrine Act
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What are joint committees?
Committees consisting of members of both chambers
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Why are select or special committees created?
To investigate a specific event or issue
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How many representatives does California have?
53
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What are the requirements to serve in the HoR?
25, citizen for 7 years and resident of your district
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How many women are there currently in the HoR?
84
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How many African Americans are there in the HoR?
43
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How many Hispanics are there in the HoR?
30
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What are the requirements to become a Senator?
30, resident for 9 years in US and resident of the state you represent
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How many women are there in the Senate?
20
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How many African Americans in the Senate?
Two
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How many Hispanics in the Senate?
Three
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What are the three exclusive powers of the HoR?
To begin impeachment, to elect a President if the electoral college is deadlocked and the power of the purse
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Why was Clinton impeached?
Lewinsky and perjury
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Who was the last president to be impeached before Clinton?
Andrew Johnson
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Who was the last president to be elected by the HoR?
John Quincy Adams
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What are the four exclusive powers of the senate?
To ratify all treaties made my the president, to confirm appointments, to try cases of impeachment and elect VP if the electoral college is deadlocked
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What treaty did the Senate reject in 1999?
The Test Ban Treaty
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Was Clinton impeached by the Senate?
No
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Why was Clinton not found guilty?
The senate felt that the trial was only brought about due to partisanship
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What are the joint powers of the Senate and HoR?
To vote on bills, to investigate the workings of the executive, to initiate constitutional amendments, to declare war and to confirm a VP
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Give examples of how the two chambers have equal legislative power
They both use committees, they both pass legislation, they both scrutinise, it takes a 2/3 majority in both houses to pass legislation and they use conference committees to reconcile differences
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What do standing committees do?
Investigate the executive
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When was the last time that the joint power to declare war was used?
To declare war on Japan in 1941 after Pearl Harbour
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What is the newest joint power of Congress?
To confirm VP appointments made by the president if the VP dies or resigns
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Give an example of a VP resigning and being replaced
Nixon had to replace Agnew after he resigned with Gerald Ford
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Give an example of a low key speaker
Dennis Hastert
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Where are chairmen for the standing committees drawn from?
The majority party
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What is the proportion of the committee members like?
Replicates that of the make up of that chamber
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What does the House Rules Committee do?
It lays out the various time allocations that will be given to various bills etc
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Give an example of an ad hoc committee
Conference committees
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Give an example of a conference committee
There was one over the Economic Stimulus Package
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How many bills are introduced per congress?
Over 10,000
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What percentage of all bills proposed to a Congress are successfully passed?
3-4%
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What is the first stage of a bill?
It is introduced to congress and sent to the relevant committee
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What is pigeon-holing a bill?
Rejecting it and refusing to look at it
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What is a mark up session?
A part of the committee process where the committee makes the relevant amendments needed
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What are unanimous consent agreements?
A way for the senate to deal with the great number of bills that come through it by agreeing together which bills will and won't be debated between the majority and minority leaders
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What are the second and third readings?
Opportunity for the chambers to debate a bill
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How do you stop a filibuster?
A three fifths majority
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What is a filibuster?
A delaying tactic of a bill where senators talk until the bill reaches past the point of debate
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Give an example of a filibuster
Storm Thurmond's 24 hour filibuster of the Civil Rights Act and Rand Paul
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What are members of conference committees called?
Conferees
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Who sits on the conference committees?
Party leaders
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What happens if a president does not do anything to a bill after 10 days on his desk?
It automatically becomes law
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What are the three options of the president when a bill arrives on his desk?
Veto it, leave it or sign it
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What is a pocket veto?
Where the president does not sign it and congress ends before it becomes law
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In 2010 how many senate votes were there?
299
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What are the four factors that determine the vote of Congressmen?
Pressure groups, party, constituents and the administration
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In 2011 what percentage of people approved of the job Congress was doing?
20%
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Card 2

Front

What are the two chambers of Congress?

Back

The Senate and the House of Representatives

Card 3

Front

Who does the HoR represent?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

What does the Senate represent?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

Which is the lower chamber of Congress?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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