Legislative Political Glossary

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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.


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.


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






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.

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.

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.

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