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American Gov MidTerm Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by

A study guide I made for my American Gov class.

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Anarchy - a state without government and laws
government - an instit­ution through which leaders exercise power to make and enforce laws affecting the people under its control
nation - a group of people united by bonds of race, language, custom, tradition, and sometimes religion
state - a political community that occupies a definite territory and has an organized government
country - a political community that occupies a definite territory and has an organized government
sovere­ignty - the supreme and absolute authority within territ­orial boundaires
divine right - the idea that people are chosen by a god or gods rule
social contract - theory that by contract, people surrender to the state the power needed to maintain order and the state, in turn, agrees to protect its citizens
unitary system - a government that gives all key powers to the national or central government
confed­eracy - a loose union of indepe­ndent states
federal system - a government that divides the powers of government between the national government and state or provincial govern­ments
consti­tution - a plan that provides the rules for government
consti­tut­ional government - a government in which a consti­tution has authority to place clearly recognized limits on the powers of those who govern
author­itarian - contro­lling all aspects of citizens' economic, political, and social lives
totali­tarian - a system of government in which the government has total control
dictat­orship - a system of government in which power is in the hands of one person who has total control
oligarchy - a system of government in which a small group holds power
monarchy - a system of government in which a king, queen, or emperor exercises supreme powers of government
democracy - government in which the people rule
republic - a government in which voters hold sovereign power; elected repres­ent­atives, respon­sible to the people, exercise that power
limited government - the concept that a govern­ment's power was not absolute
repres­ent­ative government - a government in which people elect delegates to make laws and conduct government
amendment - change to the consti­tution
enumerated powers - a list of items, found in Article I, Section 8 of the consti­tution, that set forth the author­itative capacity of Congress
jurisd­iction - the limits of territory within which authority may be exercised
judicial review - the power of the Supreme Court to declare laws and actions of local, state, or national govern­ments uncons­tit­utional
federalism - a system of government in which two or more govern­ments exercise power over the same people and the same territory
delegated powers - powers the consti­tution grants or delegates to the national government
expressed powers - powers directly stated in the Consti­tution
implied powers - powers the government requires to carry out its expressed consti­tut­ional powers
reserved powers - powers that belong strictly to the states
concurrent powers - powers that both the national government and the states have
federal grant - a sum of money given to a state or local government for a specific purpose
mandate - a formal order given by a higher authority
bicameral legisl­ature - a two-ch­amber legisl­ature
reappo­rti­onment - the process of reassi­gning repres­ent­ation based on popula­tion, after every census
gerrym­ander - to draw a district's boundaries to gain an advantage in elections
incumbent - elected official who is already in office
consti­tuent - a person whom a member of Congress has been elected to represent
caucus - a private meeting of party leaders to choose candidates for office
quorum - the minimum number of members who must be present to permit a legisl­ative body to take official action
hold - a motion placed on a bill in the Senate that alerts party leaders that if unanimous consent were to be sought, they would object
filibuster - a method of defending a bill in the Senate by stalling the legisl­ative process and preventing a vote
cloture resolution - a procedure that allows each senator to speak only one hour on a bill under debate
standing committee - a permanent committee in Congress that oversees bills that deal with certain kinds of issues
select committee - a temporary committee formed to study one specific issue and report its findings to the House or Senate
joint committee - a committee that consists of members from both the House and Senate, formed to act as a study group that reports back to the House and Senate on a topic or bill
conference committee - a temporary joint committee set up when the House and the Senate have passed different versions of the same bill
approp­riation - approval of government spending
divided government - when one party controls the White House and the other controls the House and Senate
joint resolution - a resolution passed in the same form by both houses in Congress (can be used to pass a law, must be passed by both chambers and presented to the president)
simple resolution - covers matters affecting only one house of congress and is passed by that house alone (no law necessary)
concurrent resolution - covers matters requiring the action of both houses but on which law is not needed
rider - a provision on a subject other than the one covered in the bill
earmark - part of a funding bill that will go toward a certain purpose
pork barrel legisl­ation - laws that are passed by Congress to approp­riate money for local federal projects
logrolling - an agreement by two or more lawmakers to support each other's bills

Amending the Consti­tution

proposed by 2/3 vote of both houses ->
passage by 3/4 of state legisl­ature
OR proposed by 2/3 vote of national convention called by Congress on request of 2/3 state legisl­atures
OR by 3/4 of special state conven­tions

Reappo­rti­onment Process

- Census (popul­ation count)
- Congress determines # of reps for each state
- States are informed
- States create districts (must be equal in popula­tion, contin­uous, and compact)

Gerrym­and­ering Processes

- spreading like-m­inded voters among multiple districts to dilute their impact and prevent them from consti­tuting a majority
- concen­trating like-m­inded voters in a single distract, allowing the other party to win the remaining districts

Bill Processes

- sponsor(s) & numbered (intro­duced in house)
- introduced to senate and assigned to committee
- assigned to committee by Speaker of the House (MOST BILLS DIE HERE) (gets marked up, referred to standing committee for study, hearings, revisions, and approval)
referred to standing committee for study, hearings, revisions, and approval
- rules committee sets conditions for debate and amendment on the floor (put on calendar (open/­closed rule)))
- debated, then passed or defeated (no limits to debate...f­il­ibu­ster, cloture motion (puts end to filibu­ster))
- conference committee resolves differ­ences between both houses of Congress versions of bill
- Congress vote on final passage, approved bill is sent to the president
- the president signs, vetos, or allows it to become law without signing (veto returns to Congress; veto may be overri­dden)

Federalist & Anti-F­ede­ralist Arguments

- power needed to be divided between the states and the national government
- executive branch has too much power
- the new government needed a strong executive
- the "­nec­essary and proper­" clause gave too much power to Congress
- since all rights can't be listed in the body of the consti­tution, it is better to add a bill of rights AFTER ratifi­cation
- no bill of rights has been proposed
- because all branches were equal, no branch could maintain an army in peacetime
- the national government could maintain an army in peacetime
- in a republican form of govern­ment, repres­ent­ation is based on the consent of the governed
- the proposed consti­tution gave too much power to the national government at the expense of the states


House of Reps
- members chosen every 2 years by the people
- composed of 2 senators from each state
- must get together at least once a year (on Jan.3rd)
- must be 25, citizen for 7 years, can not live in the state they serve
- divided equally into 3 classes (class 1: every 2 years, class 2: every 4 years, class 3: every 6 years)
- if a bill is not returned by the president in 10 days (no sundays), it will become law
- can choose the speaker of the house (2nd in line to be president)
- must be 30, citizen for 9 years, can not live in the state they represent
- have sole power of impeac­hment
- vice president is president of the senate but has no vote unless there is a tie
- bills for taxing originate in the house of reps
- choose their other officers and pro tempore
- tries all impeac­hments

Powers of Congress

Expressed Powers
Implied Powers
Inherent Powers
1. to lay and collect taxes
1. regulate sale of alcohol
2. to borrow money
1. punish tax evaders
3. to regulate commerce
1. create the IRS
3. to grant or deny diplomatic recogn­ition to other countries
4. to establish uniform laws of natura­liz­ation
2. establish a bank
4. control the nation's borders
5. to establish post offices and post roads
3. set minimum wage
6. to declare war
3. protect the disabled
6. defend the government from revolu­tions
7. to raise/­sup­por­t/m­aintain a military
3. prohibit discri­min­ation
4. limit # of immigrants
5. prohibits mail fraud
5. prohibits the shipments of certain products
6. establish a draft
7. to build the highway system

Congress (2023)

House of Reps
Speaker of the House- Kevin McCarthy
President of the Senate- Kamala Harris
House Majority Leader- Steve Scalise
President Pro Tempore- Patty Murray
House Minority Leader- Hakeem Jeffries
Senate Majority Leader- Chuck Schumer
House Majority Whip- Tom Emmer
Senate Minority Leader- Mitch McConnell
House Minority Whip- Katherine Clark
Senate Majority Whip- Durbin Richard J.
Senate Minority Whip- John Thune