Important Terms for Indivisible Activists
This is meant to be read straight through, so it’s intentionally not in alphabetical order. It’s also incomplete and focuses on only on the most important terms.
Congress: The House of Representatives plus the Senate.
House of Representatives: Part of Congress representing over 400 districts across the country, including several dozen here in California. Every Representative runs for reelection every two years. Districts are referred to by a state abbreviation and a number; for example, California’s 12th district is “CA-12”.
Senate: Part of Congress representing all 50 states. Every state has two Senators. Each Senator runs for reelection every six years, and there’s never an election for both of a state’s Senators at the same time.
Bill: Can be introduced in House or Senate, but usually is passed by the House first. Once a bill has passed (with identical or unified language) both the House and Senate, it goes to the President to sign to make it a law (or veto it if he’d rather not).
President of the United States (or POTUS): Chief of the executive branch of government, signer of bills, head of state, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military.
Supreme Court of the United States (or SCOTUS): Highest court in the United States; parties in major civil-rights cases will often end up petitioning SCOTUS to make the final decision. SCOTUS chooses whether to hear the case or not. Currently eight Associate Justices plus one Chief Justice; this headcount is set by Congress.
Impeachment: Prosecution, trial, and possible removal or other punishment of any federal officer, including the President. Not an immediate removal; the House must pass Articles of Impeachment, whereupon the Senate must hold a trial and vote on the verdict. The trial of a President is presided over by the Chief Justice of the United States.
Unanimous consent: A practice in the Senate whereby the Senate conducts business unless any Senator objects. Usually they don’t. If a Senator does object, then the Senate must pass the action by majority vote for it to be taken