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United States Congress


❶Overriding a presidential veto.

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A vetoed bill can still become law if each house of Congress votes to override the veto with a two-thirds majority. Finally, the president may do nothing—neither signing nor vetoing the bill—and then the bill becomes law automatically after ten days not counting Sundays according to the Constitution.

But if Congress is adjourned during this period, presidents may veto legislation passed at the end of a congressional session simply by ignoring it; the maneuver is known as a pocket veto , and cannot be overridden by the adjourned Congress. Senators face reelection every six years, and representatives every two. Reelections encourage candidates to focus their publicity efforts at their home states or districts.

Nevertheless, incumbent members of Congress running for reelection have strong advantages over challengers. As a result, reelection rates of members of Congress hover around 90 percent, [6] causing some critics to accuse them of being a privileged class.

Both senators and representatives enjoy free mailing privileges called franking privileges. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has treated campaign contributions as a free speech issue. Elections are influenced by many variables. Some political scientists speculate there is a coattail effect when a popular president or party position has the effect of reelecting incumbents who win by "riding on the president's coattails" , although there is some evidence that the coattail effect is irregular and possibly declining since the s.

If a seat becomes vacant in an open district, then both parties may spend heavily on advertising in these races; in California in , only four of twenty races for House seats were considered highly competitive. Since members of Congress must advertise heavily on television, this usually involves negative advertising , which smears an opponent's character without focusing on the issues. Prominent Founding Fathers writing in The Federalist Papers felt that elections were essential to liberty, and that a bond between the people and the representatives was particularly essential [] and that "frequent elections are unquestionably the only policy by which this dependence and sympathy can be effectually secured.

Unlike the presidency, Congress is difficult to conceptualize. The rough-and-tumble world of legislating is not orderly and civil, human frailties too often taint its membership, and legislative outcomes are often frustrating and ineffective Still, we are not exaggerating when we say that Congress is essential to American democracy. We would not have survived as a nation without a Congress that represented the diverse interests of our society, conducted a public debate on the major issues, found compromises to resolve conflicts peacefully, and limited the power of our executive, military, and judicial institutions The popularity of Congress ebbs and flows with the public's confidence in government generally Also, members of Congress often appear self-serving as they pursue their political careers and represent interests and reflect values that are controversial.

Scandals, even when they involve a single member, add to the public's frustration with Congress and have contributed to the institution's low ratings in opinion polls. An additional factor that confounds public perceptions of Congress is that congressional issues are becoming more technical and complex and require expertise in subjects such as science, engineering and economics.

When the Constitution was ratified in , the ratio of the populations of large states to small states was roughly twelve to one. The Connecticut Compromise gave every state, large and small, an equal vote in the Senate. But since , the population disparity between large and small states has grown; in , for example, California had seventy times the population of Wyoming.

A major role for members of Congress is providing services to constituents. One way to categorize lawmakers, according to political scientist Richard Fenno , is by their general motivation:. Members of Congress enjoy parliamentary privilege , including freedom from arrest in all cases except for treason , felony , and breach of the peace and freedom of speech in debate. This constitutionally derived immunity applies to members during sessions and when traveling to and from sessions.

The rules of the House strictly guard this privilege; a member may not waive the privilege on their own, but must seek the permission of the whole house to do so. Senate rules, however, are less strict and permit individual senators to waive the privilege as they choose. The Constitution guarantees absolute freedom of debate in both houses, providing in the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution that "for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

Obstructing the work of Congress is a crime under federal law and is known as contempt of Congress. Each member has the power to cite individuals for contempt but can only issue a contempt citation—the judicial system pursues the matter like a normal criminal case.

If convicted in court, an individual found guilty of contempt of Congress may be imprisoned for up to one year. The franking privilege allows members of Congress to send official mail to constituents at government expense. Though they are not permitted to send election materials, borderline material is often sent, especially in the run-up to an election by those in close races. The petition, "Remove health-care subsidies for Members of Congress and their families", has already gathered over 1,, signatures on the website Change.

Like other federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and participants' contributions. And like Federal employees, members contribute one-third of the cost of health insurance with the government covering the other two-thirds.

The size of a congressional pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest three years of their salary. Members of Congress make fact-finding missions to learn about other countries and stay informed, but these outings can cause controversy if the trip is deemed excessive or unconnected with the task of governing.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the current Congress, see th United States Congress. For the building, see United States Capitol. Mike Pence R Since January 20, Speaker of the House of Representatives. Paul Ryan R Since October 29, President pro tempore of the Senate. Orrin Hatch R Since January 6, Constitution of the United States Law Taxation. Presidential elections Midterm elections Off-year elections. Democratic Republican Third parties. History of the United States Congress.

Powers of the United States Congress. Territories of the United States. Congress in relation to the president and Supreme Court. Structure of the United States Congress. United States congressional committee. Lobbying in the United States. United States Capitol Police. Procedures of the United States Congress. Joint session of the United States Congress. Act of Congress and List of United States federal legislation.

Salaries of members of the United States Congress. Sullivan July 24, Retrieved November 27, How Congress works and why you should care.

Retrieved September 11, Rakove, Alan Taylor; et al. The Building of Democracy". Weekend Review and a Look Ahead". Retrieved September 20, Retrieved January 6, Retrieved October 10, The Library of Congress — American memory. The Charters of Freedom. Kyvig, author, Julian E.

Casey August 22, Article I section 8 paragraph 3 — Article Text — Annotations". Thompson, The "Spider Web": Clemens, The People's Lobby: Retrieved September 28, Retrieved October 5, Lay a Forked Road". Turn of the Tide". Ahead of the Wind". Archived from the original on November 1, Retrieved September 17, Schulman author , Julian E. New Faces and New Strains". Retrieved September 30, Retrieved October 2, The New York Times. Birnbaum October 3, Retrieved October 1, Cohen August 12, Congress Faces Campaign Spending — Politics: Hysteria was the operative word when legislators realized they could not return home without tougher campaign finance laws".

Berke February 14, Delegates to the U. Zelizer editor Michael Schudson author How stalemates became the norm in Washington DC. Retrieved October 10, , " Retrieved October 18, , " Down-to-the-wire budget and debt crises, indiscriminate spending cuts and a day government shutdown Republicans Will 'Do the Right Thing ' ".

Nelson October 11, Retrieved October 4, Steve Holland May 1, The President's War Powers". Retrieved December 20, Broder March 18, Archived from the original on August 1, Bazan and Jennifer K. Elsea, legislative attorneys January 5, Will — op-ed columnist December 21, Leslie Kincaid January 17, Barnett April 23, The Wall Street Journal.

Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands, and associated territorial waters and airspace. Viewed January 26, The Past; Johnson's Trial: Retrieved October 7, Center For Individual Freedom. Retrieved September 15, Archived from the original on August 9, Archived from the original on August 7, Learn about the Legislative Process".

United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on Retrieved April 20, Retrieved September 12, Retrieved July 25, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey Archived from the original on December 5, The American Congress Fourth Edition. Archived from the original on November 10, Sabato September 26, How immigration, gas, Medicare, Iraq and scandal could affect midterm races".

Our imperfect democratic constitution: Boston University Law Review. John Warner and Congress's money culture". Jean Merl October 18, His well-financed rapid-response team has mounted an unprecedented ad attack". Howard Kurtz October 28, Is it worth it? Archived from the original on January 22, An Idea on the March".

Fredreka Schouten September 19, Ruth Marcus August 8, Chris Cillizza September 20, Archived from the original on September 5, Makings of the 72nd Cont. Maki Becker June 17, Daniel Brumberg October 30, Karen Tumulty July 8, Janet Hook December 22, Economy Flows, Voter Vitriol Ebbs".

Congressional Job Approval Ratings Trend — present ". Retrieved October 8, John Whitesides September 19, Seung Min Kim February 18, Nelson on why democracy demands that the next president be taken down a notch". Retrieved January 10, Sunstein October 26, Archived from the original on July 30, Widener University School of Law. Archived from the original on September 25, The Brookings Institution, , p. Retrieved August 13, Retrieved August 12, Archived from the original on January 17, Retrieved August 28, Retrieved May 22, Retrieved January 11, Retrieved February 23, Retrieved December 14, Retrieved December 13, Does Congress pay for its own health care?

Congressional Research Service , February 9, Farnam December 17, Retrieved December 17, Encyclopedia of the United States Congress 4 vols. The Constitutional Convention of Congress and Its Members 10th ed. Congressional Quarterly CQ Press. Legislative procedure, informal practices, and other information English, Ross M. The United States Congress. Francis-Smith, Janice October 22, The Oklahoma City Journal Record.

Archived from the original on May 10, Campaigning at Home and in Washington. Reelection Rates of Incumbents. Novinka Books, an imprint of Nova Science Publishers. Maier, Pauline book reviewer November 18, Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process. Social Bases of Institutional Change. Archived from the original on April 14, The Building of Democracy.

House and Senate , 3rd ed. Procedural, historical, and other information about both houses Barone, Michael and Richard E. The Legislative Process in the National Government.

Legislative procedure Bianco, William T. OAH Magazine of History. Lee, Frances and Bruce Oppenheimer. Sizing Up the Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation. University of Chicago Press: Equal representation in the Senate Rimmerman, Craig A. A Very Short Introduction. History, representation, and legislative procedure Smith, Steven S. Roberts, and Ryan Vander Wielen The American Congress 5th ed.

Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. History, constitution, and general legislative procedure Tarr, David R. Some information in this article has been provided by the Senate Historical Office.

This audio file was created from a revision of the article " United States Congress " dated , and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article.

Current by seniority Dean of the Senate Former U. Current by seniority Dean of the House Former U. Representatives living Oldest living Earliest serving Expelled, censured, and reprimanded. By length of service historically. Powers, privileges, procedure, committees, history and media.

Gavels Mace of the House Seal of the Senate. Dirksen Hart Mountains and Clouds Russell. United States Congresses and year convened. Lists of United States congressional delegations. Lists of former House members List of former Senators. Legislatures of the United States. List of current U. Courts of appeals District courts Supreme Court.

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United States Armed Forces. Committees on Armed Services: Explore the year a word first appeared. Definition of congress 1 a: See congress defined for English-language learners See congress defined for kids.

Examples of congress in a Sentence She was recently elected to the country's congress. Congress is not currently in session. Among these are members of the national congress , who will be able to be reelected for the first time in nearly a century; eight state governors; and mayors of more than 1, cities, including Mexico City. Among these are members of the national congress , who will be able to be re-elected for the first time in nearly a century; 9 state governors; and mayors of more than 1, cities, including Mexico City.

Stoddard wrote scores of books and pamphlets about temperance and traveled to Europe between and to represent the United States in international anti-alcohol congresses. A lesson from Prohibition," 23 June Related Words collective , commune , community , cooperative ; alliance , bloc , camp , coalition , partnership ; body , cadre , group ; circle , clan , clique , coterie , junta , lot , set ; crew , outfit , party , squad , team ; branch , chapter , local ; faithful , fold , membership ; sisterhood , sorority ; cabal , confederacy , conspiracy ; band , gang , ring ; cartel , combine , syndicate ;.

Other Government and Politics Terms agent provocateur , agitprop , autarky , cabal , egalitarianism , federalism , hegemony , plenipotentiary , popular sovereignty , socialism. Related Phrases congressional delegation. Definition of congress for English Language Learners.

Origin and Etymology of congress Latin congressus meeting, encounter, from congredi to approach, meet. Learn More about congress Thesaurus: Seen and Heard What made you want to look up congress? Need even more definitions? Get Word of the Day daily email!

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Home > Help > Glossary. Glossary. Brief explanations of legislative terms used throughout The legislative subject term vocabulary is consistently used for all bills and resolutions introduced since (th Congress). Terms assigned to a bill can be seen from the "View All Subjects" link to the right of each bill's overview.

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A congressional term is a period of 2 years in which a representative serves, and it starts on January 3rd of every odd numbered year.

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Congressional definition, of or relating to a congress. See more. 2 Glossary of Congressional Terms D-M Cloture: The process that ends a filibuster in the Senate. Invoking cloture requires 60 votes. Committee of the Whole House: This structure allows the House to become a “committee” to conduct official business with.

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Glossary of Terms Related to Congressional Records The following are terms that may appear in description of congressional records. Ad hoc committee. The recent mid-term elections, which returned both houses of Congress to the Democratic Party, will change the Congressional agenda in many ways, both large and small. New Congress may have contractors in its sights.