American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Capitol Hill Terminology

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Amendment
A change in a bill or document by adding, substituting or omitting portions of it.
Bill
Legislation introduced by either the House or Senate.
Cloture
Method of limiting debate or ending a filibuster in the Senate. At least 60 Senators must vote in favor before cloture can be invoked.
Deficit
The amount by which outlays exceed receipts in a given fiscal period.
Enrolled Bill
Final copy of a bill that has passed both the House and Senate in identical form.
Filibuster
Tactic used in the Senate whereby a minority intentionally delays a vote.
General Debate
Term for period of time at the beginning of proceedings in the Committee of the Whole to debate a measure. The time is generally divided equally between majority and minority floor managers.
Holds
A courtesy afforded to Senators which allows them to delay legislation for a reasonable period. The Majority Leader can override a hold.
Item Veto
Authority to veto part rather than all of an appropriations act. The President does not have item-veto authority. He must sign or veto the entire appropriations act. The item veto sometimes is referred to as a line-item veto.
Joint Resolution
Legislation similar to a bill that has the force of law if passed by both houses and signed by the President, generally used for special circumstances.
Lame Duck
Members of Congress (or the President) who has not been reelected but whose term has not yet expired.
Marking up a Bill
Process, usually in committee, of analyzing a piece of legislation section by section and making changes.
Nongermane Amendment
An amendment that would add new and different subject matter to, or may be irrelevant to, the bill or other measure it seeks to amend. Senate rules permit nongermane amendments in almost all circumstances.
Omnibus
A bill regarding a single subject that combines many different aspects of that subject.
Pocket Veto
When the President does not sign or veto legislation submitted to him by Congress within ten days of adjournment, the bill dies.
Quorum
The number of Senators or Representatives who must be present before a legislative body can conduct official business.
Rider
A measure added to another, often unrelated, bill with the purpose of one piece of legislation passing on the strength of another.
Score
"Price-tag" of a bill or resolution for a fiscal year as determined by the Congressional Budget Office.
Table a Bill
Motion to kill a bill by cutting off consideration of it. Such motions are not debatable.
Unanimous Consent
A procedure whereby a matter is considered agreed to if no Member on the floor objects. Unanimous Consent motions save time by eliminating the need for a vote.
Vote
Unless rules specify otherwise, the Senate may agree to any question by a majority of Senators voting, if a quorum is present. The Chair puts each question by voice vote unless the "yeas and nays" are requested, in which case a roll call vote occurs.
Whip
An individual who serves as assistant leader for each party in each chamber who keeps other Members of the party informed of the legislative agenda of the leader. Also tracks sentiment among party Members for certain legislation and tries to persuade Members to be present and vote for measures important to the leadership.
Yield
Permission granted by the Member who has the floor to another Member who wishes to make a comment or ask a question.

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