Legislative Branch Quiz

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Question 1
What is the main function of the legislative branch of the United States’ government?

A
To implement laws
B
To create laws
C
To enforce laws
D
To interpret laws
Question 1 Explanation: 
The legislative branch’s main responsibility is to propose, debate, and pass bills, which are then sent to the president for approval.
Question 2
What was the main difference between the New Jersey and Virginia colonies’ plans for the American legislature?

A
The New Jersey plan allocated an equal number of legislators to each state, whereas the Virginia plan allocated a number proportional to each state’s population.
B
The Virginia plan allocated an equal number of legislators to each state, whereas the New Jersey plan allocated a number proportional to each state’s population.
C
The New Jersey plan proposed a bicameral legislature, whereas the Virginia plan proposed a three-part legislature.
D
The plans proposed by the New Jersey and Virginia colonies were almost identical.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The New Jersey Plan addressed the concerns of the less populated states that without equal representation, larger states like Virginia would have a disproportionate influence over the federal government.
Question 3
What was the resolution to the dispute between the New Jersey and Virginia Plans for the United States Congress?

A
The New Jersey Plan was adopted. Each state was allotted the same number of legislators.
B
The Virginia Plan was adopted. A state’s population determined the number of legislators allotted.
C
Both plans were adopted in a bicameral legislative structure.
D
Neither plan was adopted. The New York Plan was adopted instead.
Question 3 Explanation: 
“The Great Compromise” created a bicameral (two-chamber) legislature — a hybrid of the New Jersey and Virginia Plans. New Jersey’s plan was adopted for the Senate, and Virginia’s plan to make membership proportionate to each state’s population was adopted for the House of Representatives. New legislation must be passed by both houses of Congress to become law.
Question 4
How many legislators make up today's United States Senate?

A
50
B
100
C
200
D
435
Question 4 Explanation: 
Each of the fifty states is allotted two senators.
Question 5
How long are terms for United States Senators?

A
2 years
B
4 years
C
6 years
D
8 years
Question 5 Explanation: 
Senators are elected to office for six years. One-third of the Senate seats are up for election every two years.
Question 6
How many legislators make up today's United States House of Representatives?

A
50
B
100
C
365
D
435
Question 6 Explanation: 
The population figures gathered by the United States Census are used to allocate the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Question 7
How are American-controlled territories (non-states) represented in Congress?

A
These territories are not represented
B
These territories each elect a pair of non-voting representatives to the U.S. Senate
C
These territories each elect a non-voting representative to the U.S. House of Representatives
D
These territories each elect a non-voting representative to both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives
Question 7 Explanation: 
In addition to the 435 voting members of the U.S. House of Representatives, there are also six non-voting members from U.S.-controlled territories, namely Washington D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Question 8
How many times can Members of Congress seek reelection for their positions?

A
Once
B
Twice
C
Thrice
D
There is no limit
Question 8 Explanation: 
There are no term limits on either U.S. Senators or Representatives. The 1995 Supreme Court decision U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton ruled that states could not impose term limits on their federal legislators.
Question 9
What is the Speaker of the House’s role?

A
He or she steers legislation as the ranking member of the majority party in the House of Representatives
B
He or she is third in the line of presidential succession
C
He or she orchestrates the debates on the House of Representatives’ floor
D
All of the above
Question 9 Explanation: 
The Speaker of the House is one of the most powerful members of the U. S. legislature. The speaker not only has the same voting power as other representatives, but also oversees procedure to manage floor debates. Should both the President and Vice President of the United die or be otherwise unable to serve, the Speaker of the House assumes the role of chief executive.
Question 10
What is the name given to projects designed to appropriate government spending to a Member of Congress’s home district?

A
Public works projects
B
Pet projects
C
Pork-barrel projects
D
Lobbying
Question 10 Explanation: 
Pork-barrel projects are often tacked onto larger pieces of legislation to make a particular bill more appealing to a Member of Congress and his or her constituents.
Question 11
Members of Congress are primarily accountable to __________.

A
The President of the United States
B
The United States Supreme Court
C
The Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader
D
Their constituents in their home states and districts
Question 11 Explanation: 
Members of Congress are elected to represent the people of their home states and districts. The separation of powers laid out in the United States Constitution means that U.S. Senators and Representatives, while subject to laws as U.S. citizens, do not answer to either the executive or judicial branches.
Question 12
What happens to a bill that is not brought to a vote in Congress?

A
The bill automatically becomes a law if not voted upon within 90 days of being brought to the floor.
B
The bill dies and does not become law.
C
The bill is sent to the President for approval.
D
The bill is put to a direct vote by the American people as a referendum.
Question 12 Explanation: 
After bills are introduced to the floor of the House or Senate, they are sent to committee. The Committee Chair can "pigeonhole" the bill, in other words, he or she can choose not to assign or debate the bill which never returns to the floor to become law.
Question 13
How are qualifications for a U.S. Senator different from those for a U.S. House of Representatives Member?

A
Senate candidacy has a higher age and length of citizenship requirement than the U.S. House of Representatives.
B
Senate candidacy has a lower age and length of citizenship requirement than the U.S. House of Representatives.
C
Candidacy for the House of Representatives has a lower age requirement and a longer citizenship requirement than the Senate.
D
The requirements are the same.
Question 13 Explanation: 
Prospective Senators must have been U.S. citizens for at least nine years and be at least 30. Prospective members of the House of Representatives must be at least 25 and have been U.S. citizens for at least seven years. All congressional candidates must live in the state they would represent.
Question 14
What is a limit placed on Congress’s law-making power by the Constitution?

A
Congress cannot pass laws that tax trade between states.
B
Congress cannot pass laws that interfere with the Bill of Rights.
C
Congress cannot pass legislation to deliberately privilege one state’s interests over another.
D
All of the above.
Question 14 Explanation: 
The Founding Fathers were very deliberate in how they limited legislative power. Congress cannot pass laws that infringe upon citizens’ rights, including suspending the writ of habeas corpus, stifling freedom of speech, taxing trade between states, banning religions, meddling in states’-rights issues, and passing ex post facto laws.
Question 15
How does the “elastic clause” of the United States Constitution affect Congress?

A
It allows for borrowing to pay for the United States’ federal budget during economic hardship.
B
It attributes Congress jurisdiction on issues not explicitly outlined in the Constitution
C
It allows U.S. Senators to pull votes and support from Members of the House of Representatives and vice versa.
D
All of the above.
Question 15 Explanation: 
As stated in Article I, Section 8, Congress has the power to pass whatever laws are “necessary and proper” to carry out its Constitutional duties. This broad, “elastic clause” has been used to regulate inter-state transportation, establish the U.S. Air Force, define kidnapping as a felony offense, and even create a national bank.
Question 16
Which of the following is an example of an implied power of Congress?

A
Congress establishes new U.S. Post Offices
B
Congress declares war on another country
C
Congress allocates federal tax dollars to support an education initiative
D
Congress allocates funds to strengthen the United States Navy
Question 16 Explanation: 
Education is not mentioned in the United States Constitution and is typically regarded as a states’ rights issue. Congress has applied the “general welfare clause” of Article I, Section 8 (which states that Congress can use tax revenue “to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States”) to fund education initiatives.
Question 17
How does the legislative branch provide a check to the power of the executive branch?

A
Congress can impeach executive officials, including the President, for treason, bribery, and other crimes.
B
Congress can override a presidential veto with a 2/3 majority vote.
C
Cabinet officials, judges, and other high offices of the government appointed by the President must be confirmed by Congress.
D
All of the above.
Question 17 Explanation: 
Congress has a variety of responsibilities that check the power of the President of the United States and the executive branch. The Founders wanted to prevent a tyranny of the executive comparable to British rule.
Question 18
What is Congress’s role in the federal budget?

A
Congress is responsible for both writing and passing the federal budget.
B
The President and his staff write the federal budget, and Congress votes on it. If it does not pass, the budget is sent back to the President for revisions until a budget passes both Houses of Congress.
C
Congress advises the executive branch on how to appropriate federal funds.
D
Congress ensures that budgetary spending is carried out in a timely and efficient manner.
Question 18 Explanation: 
While the President routinely offers suggestions or even a full budget plan to Congress, all budgetary decisions are formally written and approved by the legislature.
Question 19
What is the role of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)?

A
To collect unpaid tax revenue from state governments
B
To offer unbiased estimates of what a proposed bill or program will cost
C
To pay out Congressional salaries on a monthly basis
D
To manage the payment of debts to foreign countries
Question 19 Explanation: 
The CBO plays an important, bipartisan role in lawmaking by estimating the financial impact of a bill or program to Members of Congress before they vote. This process not only allows the Members of Congress to better deliberate on the pros and cons of a given bill, but also prevents budgetary surprises once a new law or program goes into effect.
Question 20
What roles do Congressional Committees play in the lawmaking process?

A
Committees debate, edit, or kill proposed bills before they are sent to the full membership of the House and Senate for a vote.
B
Committees sponsor bills.
C
After a bill has been approved by both Houses of Congress, it is sent to committee for final review.
D
Committees introduce bills to the floor of the House or Senate.
Question 20 Explanation: 
Committees play a crucial role in streamlining the process of lawmaking from the many bills that come before Congress in each session. Committees are organized according to subject matter; new bills are directed to the committee that is the best fit. These committees debate, edit, and “pigeonhole” bills before they reach the full membership of the Senate or House for approval.
Question 21
What happens when a bill is approved by one House of Congress but not the other?

A
The bill is sent to the President to break the tie.
B
The bill is sent to the Vice President to break the tie.
C
The bill is sent back to the house that voted it down for a second round of voting.
D
The bill is dead.
Question 21 Explanation: 
Both Houses of Congress must approve a bill for it to move on to the executive branch for the President’s signature. If one house votes it down, the bill can go back into committee to be revised, but without bicameral approval, the bill is dead.
Question 22
What is the Vice President’s role in Congress?

A
The Vice President is the only member of the executive branch who is allowed to speak directly with members of Congress.
B
The Vice President has the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.
C
The Vice President represents Washington D.C. in the House of Representatives as a non-voting member.
D
Should the Speaker of the House be absent or unable to perform his or her duties, the Vice President takes on the position.
Question 22 Explanation: 
The Constitution describes the Vice President as the “President of the Senate.” The only time the Vice President votes, however, is in the case of a tie. Indeed, one quarter of U.S. Vice Presidents never cast a tie-breaking vote.
Question 23
How do lawmaking processes differ between the House and Senate?

A
The Senate rules allow for a rider to be attached to any bill whether or not the amendment is relevant to the bill.
B
The House of Representatives has fewer rules limiting debate than the Senate does.
C
The Senate rarely uses committees to debate and edit bills before floor debates, whereas the House does.
D
All of the above.
Question 23 Explanation: 
Because the Senate has no rule requiring proposed amendments be relevant to the content of the bills they are attached to, it is more susceptible to pork-barrel riders and partisan tactics than the House of Representatives.
Question 24
What is true of a filibuster?

A
The filibuster is attention-grabbing stunt that does not affect a bill’s passage into law.
B
The filibuster can be used to dissolve a congressional committee.
C
Without a vote for cloture, a filibuster can prolong a debate indefinitely and prevent a bill from being voted on.
D
The filibuster speeds up the lawmaking process in the Senate.
Question 24 Explanation: 
The filibuster is a procedural tactic that is used to stall a vote in the Senate. If any Senators want to prevent a bill from being brought to a vote they can extend the debate indefinitely by speaking for as long as they wish, and on any topic they choose. The filibuster continues until the speaker either cedes the floor or the bill is withdrawn. In the modern era, the threat a filibuster is generally sufficient to keep a bill from being put forward for debate until its supporters believe they already have enough votes for cloture (cloture can be invoked by a vote of three-fifths of the Senators).
Question 25
What is gerrymandering?

A
Drawing congressional districts to favor a particular party or group.
B
Spending money to influence the passage of legislation.
C
Passing laws without the approval of the executive branch.
D
Hiding the content of bills from the American people.
Question 25 Explanation: 
Gerrymandering is the practice of manipulating district boundaries to create a political advantage for a particular party or group. Strangely shaped boundaries that do not reflect demographic or geographic landscapes can affect elections by putting as many voters for the opposing party into a single district. By conceding this one district, the other party gains an advantage in all of the surrounding districts.
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