AP US Government : Structure of Congress

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

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Example Question #31 : Congress

Which of the following is not one of the key differences between the structures of the House and the Senate?

Possible Answers:

Senators almost always come from much larger constituencies than do their counterparts in the House.

When it comes to the impeachment process, only the House can begin impeachment proceedings against the President, while the Senate is solely responsible for holding the subsequent trial.

The Senate is much more centralized in terms of both power and leadership, while the House’s leaders are generally more fragmented.

House representatives cannot debate endlessly, unlike Senators, who can filibuster (and thus debate without limits) at will.

Correct answer:

The Senate is much more centralized in terms of both power and leadership, while the House’s leaders are generally more fragmented.

Explanation:

On the contrary, the House’s power is much more centralized, with House leadership able to command significantly greater influence than its Senate counterparts. Due to the House’s much larger size, it is necessarily more centralized and hierarchical in nature, in order to enforce some sort of order among the ranks of its disparate membership. The House’s leaders exercise much greater control over their fellow representatives, the better with which to share the responsibilities of governing. The opposite is true of the Senate, whose small numbers make each Senator essentially equal in power. Senators are able to operate under much more fragmentary conditions, with less enforced discipline and less regard for their leaders’ mandates. These conditions remain true regardless of party allegiance and/or dominance at the time.

Example Question #31 : National Government Institutions

Which of the following statements concerning caucuses is incorrect?

Possible Answers:

Caucuses usually take shape through a rather organic and informal process, in which Congress men and women discover common interests and decide to band together.

Caucuses form a vital network of informal organizations throughout Congress, built and maintained on trust and mutual goals shared between members.

Caucuses typically are arranged along party lines, with very little crossover between either parties or chambers of Congress.

Currently, there are more than two hundred and fifty caucuses in Congress, including the Black Caucus, the Caucus for Women’s Issues, and the Sunbelt Caucus.

Correct answer:

Caucuses typically are arranged along party lines, with very little crossover between either parties or chambers of Congress.

Explanation:

Caucuses are actually one of the most diverse and uniting features of Congress, with many counting Democrats, Republicans, House members, and Senators all mingling together, on relatively equal footing within their ranks. This equality is due to the intrinsic mutuality of caucus formation – because caucuses are born out of commonality, their members ally themselves voluntarily and with enthusiasm, agreeing to pool their resources and time to benefit their shared cause. Bonded by shared passions, geographic interests, or demographic similarity, representatives in a caucus use their friendship to promote their pet aims amongst the wider Congressional population. In this way, caucuses function much like interest groups, but are far more equitable in nature. Recent decades have seen a rise in the popularity of caucus creation, with more and more Congress men and women seeking like-minded allies across both the party aisle and Capital chamber.

Example Question #32 : Congress

In the Senate, after a bill passes out of committee, it goes to the Rules Committee. Which type(s) of Rules may the Rules Committee create?

Possible Answers:

Closed

Structured

Open

None of these answers are correct

Correct answer:

None of these answers are correct

Explanation:

This is a trick question. Note that the question asks you about the Senate. Remember, there is no Rules Committee in the Senate! All of these answers are therefore incorrect, due to the fact that the Rules Committee exists ONLY in the House. Other than the size of the two chambers (and in reality because of the size difference), the Rules Committee is the biggest difference between the two chambers.

Example Question #31 : National Government Institutions

In the House, after a bill passes out of committee, it goes to the Rules Committee. Which type(s) of Rules can the Rules Committee create?

Possible Answers:

Open

Closed

Structured

All of these answers are correct

Correct answer:

All of these answers are correct

Explanation:

This is a difficult question, mainly due to the fact that the Rules Committee is one of the more foreign topics in American Politics. Remember: the Rules Committee only exists in the House, and so any question you ever get about the Rules Committee should automatically trigger a warning that the question must be about the House. Regardless, the Rules Committee can attach one of three different rules to a bill: open, closed, or structured. An open rule permits any amendment (that is germane) and allows debate. A closed rule essentially eliminates any attempts to offer amendments to the bill. A structured rule is somewhat in between the two and specifies only certain amendments may be considered along with the time for debate. 

**NB: Technically speaking, there is a fourth rule called “modified-open” but it is somewhat nuanced and beyond the scope of an intro course. 

Example Question #33 : Congress

In order to invoke cloture, the Constitution requires a  vote in the Senate.

Possible Answers:

False, the constitution makes no mention of cloture

True

False, the constitution makes no mention of cloture and  is not the correct vote required

False, the vote required is  not 

Correct answer:

False, the constitution makes no mention of cloture and  is not the correct vote required

Explanation:

This is a very tricky question, for two reasons: first, and foremost, the Constitution doesn’t even mention cloture; second, the correct fraction for invoking cloture is , not . Thus, this question is completely false.

While the Constitution does not mention cloture, it is a part of Senate procedure (in the form of parliamentary rules, which the Constitution gives each chamber the authority to prescribe).

Example Question #34 : Congress

Who serves as the head of the Senate?

Possible Answers:

The Speaker

The Minority Whip

The Vice President

The Majority Whip

The president Pro-Tempore

Correct answer:

The Vice President

Explanation:

The Vice President, despite not being a senator, serves as the President of the Senate. In their absence, the president pro-tempore takes over to run the Senate.

Example Question #35 : Congress

Who serves as the head of the House of Representatives?

Possible Answers:

The President Pro-Tempore

The Majority Whip

The Vice President

The Speaker

The Minority Whip

Correct answer:

The Speaker

Explanation:

The Speaker of the House serves as the leader of the House of Representatives. Whichever member of Congress that serves as the Speaker runs the congressional meetings and votes that take place.

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