Legislative Political Glossary




Browse the glossary using this index

Special | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | ALL

Page:  1  2  3  4  (Next)
ALL

A

AFGE

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union representing 700,000 federal and D.C. government workers nationwide and overseas. Workers in virtually all functions of government at every federal agency depend upon AFGE for legal representation, legislative advocacy, technical expertise and informational services.

Source: AFGE. https://www.afge.org/about-us/

Appropriations

The provision of funds, through an annual appropriations act or a permanent law, for federal agencies to make payments out of the Treasury for specified purposes. The formal federal spending process consists of two sequential steps: authorization and then appropriation. Legislation status tables and information about the appropriations process are available on the Senate Appropriations page.

Authorization

A statutory provision that obligates funding for a program or agency. An authorization may be effective for one year, a fixed number of years, or an indefinite period. An authorization may be for a definite amount of money or for "such sums as may be necessary." The formal federal spending process consists of two sequential steps: authorization and then appropriation.

B

Bills

A legislative proposal that if passed by both the House and the Senate and approved by the President becomes law. Each bill is assigned a bill number. HR denotes bills that originate in the House and S denotes bills that originate in the Senate.

C

Calendar Wednesday

A procedure in the House of Representatives during which each standing committees may bring up for consideration any bill that has been reported on the floor on or before the previous day. The procedure also limits debate for each subject matter to two hours.

Cloture

A motion generally used in the Senate to end a filibuster. Invoking cloture requires a vote by 3/5 of the full Senate. If cloture is invoked further debate is limited to 30 hours, it is not a vote on the passage of the piece of legislation.

Committee of the Whole

A committee including all members of the House. It allows bills and resolutions to be considered without adhering to all the formal rules of a House session, such as needing a quorum of 218. All measures on the Union Calendar must be considered first by the Committee of the Whole.

Congressional Record

The Congressional Record is a substantially verbatim account of the remarks made by senators and representatives while they are on the floor of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It also includes all bills, resolutions, and motions proposed, as well as debates, and roll call votes. It is printed for each day the Senate is in session. At the back of each daily issue is the "Daily Digest," which summarizes the day's floor and committee activities.

 

https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record

Corrections Calendar

A list of bills selected by the Speaker of the House in consultation with the Minority leader that will be considered in the House and debated for one hour. Generally, bills are selected because they focus on changing laws, rules and regulations that are judged to be outdated or unnecessary. A 3/5 majority of those present and voting is required to pass bills on the Corrections Calendar.

D

Discharge Petition

A petition that if signed by a majority of the House, 218 members, requires a bill to come out of a committee and be moved to the floor of the House.

F

FEC

See Federal Election Commission

Federal Election Commission

In 1975, Congress created the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to administer and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) - the statute that governs the financing of federal elections. The duties of the FEC, which is an independent regulatory agency, are to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of Presidential elections.

Source: FEC. http://www.fec.gov/about.shtml

Campaign finance disclosure portal: http://www.fec.gov/pindex.shtml

First Amendment

First Amendment, amendment (1791) to the Constitution of the United States, part of the Bill of Rights, which reads,

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, originally restricted only what the federal government may do and did not bind the states. Most state constitutions had their own bills of rights, and those generally included provisions similar to those found in the First Amendment. But the state provisions could be enforced only by state courts.In 1868, however, the was added to the U.S. Constitution, and it prohibited states from denying people “liberty” without “due process.” Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court has gradually interpreted this to apply most of the Bill of Rights to state governments.

The First Amendment, however, applies only to restrictions imposed by the government, since the First and Fourteenth amendments refer only to government action. As a result, if a private employer fires an employee because of the employee’s speech, there is no First Amendment violation.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica.
http://www.britannica.com/topic/First-Amendment

G

GDP

Gross Domestic Product

GDP is commonly used as an indicator of the economic health of a country, as well as to gauge a country's standard of living. Critics of using GDP as an economic measure say the statistic does not take into account the underground economy - transactions that, for whatever reason, are not reported to the government. Others say that GDP is not intended to gauge material well-being, but serves as a measure of a nation's productivity, which is unrelated.

The monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country's borders in a specific time period, though GDP is usually calculated on an annual basis. It includes all of private and public consumption, government outlays, investments and exports less imports that occur within a defined territory.

GDP = C + G + I + NX where:

"C" is equal to all private consumption, or consumer spending, in a nation's economy"G" is the sum of government spending"I" is the sum of all the country's businesses spending on capital"NX" is the nation's total net exports, calculated as total exports minus total imports. (NX = Exports - Imports).

Source: Investopedia. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/gdp.asp

Grassroots

Grassroots, the common or ordinary people, especially as contrasted with the leadership or elite of a political party, social organization, etc.; the rank and file.
 

 

In the context of an AFGE conversation, it often refers to actions at the local level of AFGE

H

Hatch Act

Enacted in 1939, the Hatch Act (5 U.S.C.A. 7324) curbs the political activities of employees in federal, state, and local governments. The law's goal is to enforce political neutrality among civil servants: the act prohibits them from holding public office, influencing elections, participating in or managing political campaigns, and exerting Undue Influence on government hiring. Penalties for violations range from warnings to dismissal. The law's restrictions have always been controversial. Critics have long argued that the act violates the First Amendment freedoms of government employees. The U.S. Supreme Court has disagreed, twice upholding the law's constitutionality.

Source: TheFreeDictionary.
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Hatch+Act

How does the Hatch Act Effect You?
Office of Special Counsel.
https://osc.gov/pages/hatchact-affectsme.aspx 

Hopper

Box on House Clerk's desk where members deposit bills and resolutions to introduce them.

L

LAF

AFGE Legislative Action Fund, is the resource for providing legislative and political action education materials, training assistance, and membership mobilization efforts. LAF monies cannot be used for contributions to candidates.

Legislative action

AFGE actions that deal with governing

Lobbying

Lobbying, any attempt by individuals or private interest groups to influence the decisions of government; in its original meaning it referred to efforts to influence the votes of legislators, generally in the lobby outside the legislative chamber.  

Source: Encyclopedia Brittanica. http://www.britannica.com/topic/lobbying

The practice of lobbying is considered so essential to the proper functioning of the U.S. government that it is specifically protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people peaceably … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Source: TheFreeDictionary. http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Lobbying

 

M

Morning Hour

A 90 minute period on Mondays and Tuesdays in the House of Representatives set aside for five minute speeches by members who have reserved a spot in advance on any topic.

Motion to Recommit

A motion that requests a bill be sent back to committee for further consideration. Normally, the motion is accompanied by instructions concerning what the committee should change in the legislation or general instructions such as that the committee should hold further hearings.

Motion to Table

A motion that is not debatable and that can be made by any Senator or Representative on any pending question. Agreement to the motion is equivalent to defeating the question tabled.

O

Omnibus bill

Several bills are combined into one larger bill.  The individual bills are not related to one another.   Appropriations bills are often combined.  While a  single bill may be contentious, placing them together may strengthen their chance of being passed. 

The strategy is used to force members of Congress to vote for things they might not favor, by putting those things in a bill that they do not want to defeat.  Party A wants something to become law, while Party B does not.  If the objectionable provision is placed into a bill that Party B wants even more and will not vote against, Party B has been forced to vote for something they did not support.

OpenSecrets.org

A  web resource for federal campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis.


http://www.opensecrets.org/

 

 

P

PAC

See Political Action Committee

Political Action Committee

Political Action Committee. A group not endorsed by a candidate or political party but organized to engage in political election activities, especially the raising and spending of money for "campaigning." Some political action committees (PACs) are organized solely to help defeat a candidate deemed undesirable by the group. PACs are most often organized around a particular trade, union, or business; they are also organized to promulgate particular social, economic, or political beliefs or agendas.

Source: TheFreeDictionary.com.
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Political+Action+Committee

In 1944, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the CIO part of what is today the AFL-CIO, wanted to help President Franklin Roosevelt get re-elected. Standing in their way was the Smith Connally Act of 1943, which made it illegal for labor unions to contribute funds to federal candidates. The CIO went around Smith Connally by urging individual union members to voluntarily contribute money directly to the Roosevelt campaign.  It worked very well and PACs, or political action committees were born.

Under federal election laws, PACs can legally contribute only $5,000 to a candidate committee per election (primary, general or special). They can also give up to $15,000 annually to any national party committee, and $5,000 annually to any other PAC. However, there is no limit to how much PACs can spend on advertising in support of candidates or in promotion of their agendas or beliefs. PACs must register with and file detailed financial reports of monies raised and spent to the Federal Election Commission.

Source: Robert Longley. About.com.
http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/thepoliticalsystem/a/aboutpacs.htm

Political actions

AFGE actions that deal with elections

Private Bill

A bill that is introduced on behalf of a specific individual that if it is enacted into law only affects the specific person or organization the bill concerns. Often, private bills address immigration or naturalization issues.

Private Calendar

A list of all the private bills that are to be considered by the House. It is called on the first and third Tuesday of every month.

Proxy voting

The practice of allowing a senator to cast a vote in committee for an absent senator. Senate Rule XXVI provides that proxies may not be voted when the absent senator has not been informed of the matter on which he is being recorded and has not requested that he be so recorded.

Q

Quorum

The number of Representatives or Senators that must be present before business can begin. In the House 218 members must be present for a quorum. In the Senate 51 members must be present however, Senate can conduct daily business without a quorum unless it is challenged by a point of order.

R

Resolution

Simple Resolution - A type of legislation designated by H Res or S Res that is used primarily to express the sense of the chamber where it is introduced or passed. It only has the force of the chamber passing the resolution. A simple resolution is not signed by the President and cannot become Public Law.

Concurrent Resolution - A type of legislation designated by H Con Res or S Con Res that is often used to express the sense of both chambers, to set annual budget or to fix adjournment dates. Concurrent resolutions are not signed by the President and therefore do not hold the weight of law.

Joint Resolution - A type of legislation designated by H J Res or S J Res that is treated the same as a bill unless it proposes an amendment to the Constitution. In this case, 2/3 majority of those present and voting in both the House and the Senate and 3/4 ratification of the states are required for the Constitutional amendment to be adopted.

Rider

An informal term for an amendment or provision that is not relevant to the legislation where it is attached.

S

Substitute Amendment

An amendment that would replace existing language of a bill or another amendment with its own.

Super PAC

PACs, Super PACs and 527s

Among the types of groups raising campaign money:

Nonprofits: Are allowed to run advertising ahead of elections but cannot be devoted primarily to politics. Can accept contributions of any size without disclosing donors.

PAC (political action committee): Created to funnel campaign contributions directly to candidates. Corporations cannot contribute directly to PACs but can sponsor a PAC for employee donations. Annual donations are limited to $5,000 from individuals, whose names and contributions must be disclosed.

Super PAC: Can raise and spend unlimited amounts on politics, but must operate independently of candidates and cannot contribute to individual candidates. Donors must be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission

Political party: Can accept donations of $30,400 from individuals, less from PACs, but nothing from corporations. Donations must be disclosed to the FEC.

527 group: Named for a section in the tax code, a 527 group can run political ads with unlimited individual and corporate contributions but must disclose donors to the IRS.

Source: Washington Post. September 28, 2010.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/27/AR2010092707146.html

Suspension of the Rules

A procedure in the House that limits debate on a bill to 40 minutes, bars amendments to the legislation and requires a 2/3 majority of those present and voting for the measure to be passed.

U

Union Calendar

A list of all bills that address money and may be considered by the House of Representatives. Generally, bills contained in the Union Calendar can be categorized as appropriations bills or bills raising revenue.

V

Veto

A power that allows the President, a Governor or a Mayor to refuse approval of a piece of legislation. Federally, a President returns a vetoed bill to the Congress, generally with a message. Congress can accept the veto or attempt to override the veto by a 2/3 majority of those present and voting in both the House and the Senate.

W

Whips

Assistants to the floor leaders who are also elected by their party conferences. The majority and minority whips (and their assistants) are responsible for mobilizing votes within their parties on major issues. In the absence of a party floor leader, the whip often serves as acting floor leader.


Page:  1  2  3  4  (Next)
ALL