The Lingo: Legislative Glossary
Act: Legislation approved by both chambers of Congress and is signed into law by the president.
Adjournment: The closing of a legislative day. Adjournment Sine Die: An adjournment terminating an annual session of Congress. Congress will not meet again until the first day of the next session.
Amendment: A proposal to alter the bill language by adding, substituting or omitting portions of it. Before an amendment becomes part of the measure, the legislative body must agree to it.
Appropriations Bill: Legislation that provides funding for authorized programs. Budgets for the federal government are provided both in annual appropriations acts and in permanent provisions of law.
Authorization Bill: Legislation establishing a program and setting funding limits.
Bill: Legislation introduced in the House or Senate. S.1 is an example of a Senate bill. House bills begin with H.R.0
Budget Resolution: Legislation in the form of a concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget. The budget resolution establishes various budget totals, divides spending totals into categories (e.g., transportation), and may include reconciliation instructions to designated House or Senate committees.
Chairman: Presiding officer of a committee or subcommittee. Most senior committee member from the majority party.
Cloture: Procedure used to end a filibuster. Requires 60 votes. Cloture can also be used to ban non-germane amendments.
Companion Bill: Identical legislation introduced separately in both the House and Senate.
Conference Committee: Temporary committee composed of House and Senate conferees formed to reconcile differences in legislation that passed both chambers. Once the committee reaches a compromise, a conference report is written for consideration and approval in each chamber.
Congressional Record: Official transcript of the proceedings of Congress.
Continuing Resolution: Legislation provides budget authority for federal agencies and programs to continue in operation until regular appropriations acts are enacted.
Discretionary Spending: Spending category through which governments can spend through annual appropriations.
Entitlement: Government program established by law which provides financial benefits to an eligible person or unit of government. Social Security, Medicare and welfare are examples of entitlement programs.
Filibuster: A parliamentary procedure to extend debate, allowing one or more members to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a given proposal.
Hearing: A committee/ subcommittee meeting where members hear witness testimony to review legislation or operation of a federal agency or program, or conduct an investigation.
Joint Committee: Committee composed of both House and Senate members.
Joint Resolution: A joint resolution is a legislative measure, similar to a bill that is approved by both chambers and signed by the President. It is designated “S. J. Res.” or “H. J. Res.”. Lame-Duck: Member of Congress or President who has not been reelected but whose term has not yet expired.
Majority Leader: Chief spokesman and strategist for the majority party, elected by members of the Majority party. In the House, the majority leader is the second-ranking lawmaker, behind the Speaker. Minority Leader: Chief spokesman and strategist for the minority party, elected by members of the minority party.
Markup: Process by which congressional committees and subcommittees analyze legislation and make changes.
Paygo: Any new spending or tax relief should be offset with equal reductions in spending or increases in taxes in order to not increase the deficit. President Pro Tempore: A senator who is chosen to preside over the Senate in the absence of the vice president.
Quorum: Minimum number of members of a chamber (or committee) required for the transaction of certain types of business.
Ranking Member: Most senior member of a legislative committee from the minority party.
Recess: Temporary halt to proceedings with a time set for proceedings to resume.
Rescission: The revocation, cancellation, or repeal of a law, order, or agreement.
Sequester: Automatic cuts to federal programs. Speaker of the House: Presiding officer of the House of Representatives. The Speaker is second in the United States presidential line of succession, after the Vice President and ahead of the President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate.
Subcommittee: Subunit of a committee established to divide the committee’s workload. The subcommittee’s recommendations must be approved by the full committee before being reported to the House or the Senate.
Veto: The president’s power to reject a bill or joint resolution from becoming law, returning the legislation to the house in which it originated. The veto can be overridden only by a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the House. Voice Vote: Occurs when the legislator must vote “Yea” or “Nay” as the clerk calls the legislator’s name. Whip: The majority and minority whips are responsible for mobilizing votes within their parties on major issues.
Voice Vote: Occurs when the legislator must vote “Yea” or “Nay” as the clerk calls the legislator’s name.
Whip: The majority and minority whips are responsible for mobilizing votes within their parties on major issues.