In being an advocate, you will run across numerous, and sometimes, unfamiliar legislative terms. To help advocates, AACR has created an Advocates Dictionary…a quick reference guide, which can provide meaning to the terms that advocates will come across.
302(A) Allocation-Sets for the total amount of money for Appropriations Committees to spend, within the budget resolution.
302(B) Allocation-Allocations set forth by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, these allocations are divided total appropriations among the 12 subcommittees dealing with different parts of the budget. The subcommittees then decide how to distribute funds within their 302(B) allocations.
Advocacy-An activity by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social institutions.
Amendment-A proposed change to a pending text (e.g., a bill, resolution, another amendment, or a treaty [or an associated resolution of ratification]).
Amendment In The Nature of a Substitute-An amendment that seeks to replace the entire text of an underlying measure.
Appropriations Bill-Legislation to appropriate federal funds to specific federal government departments, agencies and programs. The money provides funding for operations, personnel, equipment and activities. Regular appropriations bill are passed annually, with the funding they provide covering one fiscal year.
Bill-The primary form of legislative measure used to propose law. Depending on the chamber of origin, bills begin with a designation of either H.R. or S.
Budget Resolution-A measure that sets forth a congressional budget plan, including aggregate budgetary levels, which may be enforced during the subsequent consideration of spending and revenue legislation. It is in the form of a concurrent resolution (e.g., an H. Con. Res or an S. Con. Res), not a lawmaking vehicle; as such, it is not submitted to the president.
Calendar-Lists of measures, motions, and matters that are (or soon will become) eligible for consideration on the chamber floor; also, the official document that contains these lists and other information about the status of legislation and other matters. The House has four such calendars, published as one document; the Senate publishes two.
Coalition-A temporary alliance or partnering of groups in order to achieve a common purpose or to engage in joint activity.
Coalition Building-The process by which parties (individuals, organizations, or nations) come together to form a coalition.
Committee-A panel with members from the House or Senate (or both) tasked with conducting hearings, examining and developing legislation, conducting oversight, and/or helping manage chamber business and activities.
Concurrent Resolution-Legislation that relates to the operations of Congress, including both chambers, or express the collective opinion of both chambers on public policy issues. A concurrent resolution originating in the House of Representatives is designated by the letters “H. Con. Res.” followed by a number and concurrent resolutions introduced in the Senate as “S. Con. Res.” followed by a number. For example: H. Con. Res. 64.
Congressional Office Buildings-The office buildings house the individual offices of each Member of Congress, as well as committee hearing rooms, staff rooms, multiple cafeterias, and areas of support, committee, and maintenance staff. The House has five office buildings (Cannon, Ford, Longworth, O’Neil, and Rayburn. Individual Members offices are only in Cannon, Longworth and Rayburn). The Senate has three office buildings (Dirksen, Hart, and Russell). House and Senate leadership positions (Speaker of the House, House/Senate Majority and Minority Leader, House/Senate Majority and Minority Whip, have their offices in the U.S. Capitol Building).
Congressional Record-The official record of the proceedings and debates of the U.S. Congress. For every day Congress is in session, an issue of the Congressional Record is printed by the Government Publishing Office (GPO). Each issue summarizes the day’s floor and committee actions and records all remarks delivered in the House and Senate.
Cosponsor-Representatives or Senators who formally sign on to support a measure. Only the first-named Member is the sponsor, all others are cosponsors, even those whose names appeared on the measure at the time it was submitted.
Daily Digest-A section of the Congressional Record summarizing the day’s floor and committee actions in each chamber, with page references to the verbatim accounts of floor actions. It also lists the measures scheduled for action during each chamber’s next meeting and the announcements of upcoming committee meetings.
Dear Colleague (Letter)-If an official correspondence sent by a Member of Congress, a congressional committee or Congressional Officer, often used to encourage others to cosponsor, support or oppose a bill.
District Office (“DO”)-The District Office is a part of a Representative’s/Senator’s personal office that resides in the Representative’/Senator’s district or state. The “DO” is tasked with providing non-legislative/policy related service to constituents. They assist constituents by untangling bureaucratic snarls in collecting Social Security or veterans benefits; they answer questions about federal student loans and other government aid. They also help home state or district organizations navigate red tape for landing federal grants. Lastly, they produce newsletters and other mailings to keep constituents informed of their representative’s or senator’s activities.
Executive Assistant/Scheduler-A staffer position in a congressional personal office, that manages a Member’s schedule; reviews and researches invitations; handles Member’s personal files, correspondence, and travel arrangements.
Fiscal Year-A year as reckoned for taxing or accounting purposes. For the Federal Government, the fiscal year runs from October 1st to September 30th the following year.
Hearing-A formal meeting of a congressional committee (or subcommittee) to gather information from witnesses for use in its activities (that is, the development of legislation, oversight of executive agencies, investigations into matters of public policy, or Senate consideration of presidential nominations).
Joint Resolution-Legislation considered to have the same effect as a bill. Unlike simple and concurrent resolutions, a joint resolution requires the approval of the President. Also, a joint resolution may be used to propose amendments to the Constitution. A joint resolution originating in the House of Representatives is designated by the letters “H.J. Res.” followed by a number and joint resolutions introduced in the Senate as “S.J. Res.” followed by a number. For example: S.J. Res. 2.
Legislative Assistant-A staffer position in a congressional personal office, that monitors pending legislation, conducts research, drafts legislation, provides advice and counsel to the Member (and staff), and makes recommendations. Each legislative assistant (“LA”) specializes in a number of policy areas.
Legislative Correspondent-A staffer position in a congressional personal office, that researches and writes legislative correspondence; conducts legislative research, assists Legislative Assistants as needed.
Markup-Meeting by a committee or subcommittee during which committee members offer, debate, and vote on amendments to a measure.
Private Law-A private bill passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate in identical form that has been enacted into law. Private laws only affect a private individual or individuals. A Private law is designated by the abbreviation “Pvt. L.” followed by the Congress number (e.g. 116), and the number of the law (For example: Pvt. L. 116-211).
Professional Staff-These are congressional committee staffers, who are expert in specific policy areas. Their activities including arranging and staffing hearings, drafting legislation, conducting negotiations, work with outside groups, Members of Congress, and executive branch officials.
Public Law-A bill or joint resolution passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate in identical form that has been enacted into law. Public laws affect the entire nation. A Public law is designated by the abbreviation “Pub. L.” followed by the Congress number (e.g. 116), and the number of the law (For Example: Pub. L. 116-211).
Resolution-Legislation introduced in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, but unlike bills they may be limited in effect to the Congress or one of its chambers. The three types of resolutions are joint resolutions, simple resolutions and concurrent resolutions.
Simple Resolution-Legislation that relates to the operations of a single chamber or expresses the collective opinion of that chamber on public policy issues. A simple resolution originating in the House of Representatives is designated by the letters “H. Res.” followed by a number and simple resolutions introduced in the Senate as “S. Res.” followed by a number. For Example: H. Res. 10.
Sponsor-A Representative or Senate who introduces or submits a bill or other measure.
Stakeholder(s)-A person or persons with an interest or concern on a particular subject, policy or entity.
Subcommittee-Subunit of a committee established for the purpose of dividing the committee’s workload. Recommendations of a subcommittee must be approved by the full committee before reported to the House or Senate.
Town Hall-Are meetings designed for local, state, and national politicians to meet with their constituents, either to hear from them on topics of interest or to discuss specific upcoming legislation or regulation.