Legislative Political Glossary




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P

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.


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