Amendment A proposal of a member of Congress to alter the language, provisions or stipulations in a bill or in another amendment.
Appropriation A provision by a legislature of funds for a specific purpose. An appropriations bill gives legal authority to spend or obligate money from the Treasury. An appropriations bill originates in the House, and is not supposed to be considered by the full House or Senate until a related measure authorizing funding is enacted. In personal budget terms, getting permission to receive an allowance from a parent is an authorization; actual receipt of the money is an appropriation.
Authorization A legislative action establishing a program and general amounts of money to fund the program. An authorization is the prerequisite for an appropriation or other kind of budget authority. Under the rules of both the House and Senate, the appropriation for a program or agency may not be considered until its authorization has been considered. Funding for CPB and PTFP is authorized by Congress.
Bill Most legislative proposals before Congress are in the form of bills and are designated by "H.R." in the House of Representatives or "S." in the Senate, according to the house in which they originate, and by a number assigned in the order in which they are introduced during the period of a congressional term. For example, the public broadcasting reauthorization bill introduced in the Senate during the 108th Congress is designated as S. 2645.
Budget The document sent to Congress by the President early each year estimating government revenue and expenditures for the ensuing fiscal year.
Cloture The process by which a filibuster can be ended in the Senate other than by unanimous consent. A majority of three-fifths of the Senate (or 60 votes) is required to succeed on a cloture vote.
Committee A division of the House or Senate that prepares legislation for action by the parent chamber or makes investigations as directed by the parent chamber.
Committee of the whole Business is expedited in the 435 member House of Representatives when it resolves itself to the "Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union." Rules are relaxed and a quorum is easier to obtain. A minimum of 100 members can comprise the committee.
Conference A meeting between the representatives of the House and the Senate to reconcile differences between the two houses on provisions of a bill passed by both chambers. members assigned to a conference Committee are referred to as "conferees."
Congressional record The printed, daily account of debates, votes and comments in the House and Senate published by the Government Printing Office.
Continuing resolution Legislation providing continued funding for a federal department or program, usually at the previous fiscal year level. It is used when Congress has failed to pass a necessary appropriations bill for a new fiscal year.
Fiscal year A 12-month period for using federal funds, beginning October 1. It is the year in which the period ends.
Hearings Committee sessions for taking testimony from witnesses. At hearings on legislation, witnesses usually include specialists, government officials and spokesmen for persons or entities affected by the bill or bills under study.
Joint committee A committee composed of a specified number of members of both the House and Senate. A joint committee may be investigative or research-oriented, an example of the latter being the Joint Economic Committee.
Majority leader Leader of the majority party in either the House or the Senate. In the House, second in command to the Speaker.
Majority whip In effect, the assistant majority leader, in either the House or Senate. His job is to help marshal majority forces in support of party strategy and legislation.
Marking up a bill Going through the contents of a piece of legislation in committee or subcommittee, considering its provisions section by section, acting on amendments to provisions and proposed revisions to the language, inserting new sections, etc. If the bill is extensively amended, the committee's version may be introduced as a separate bill, with a new number, before being considered by the full House or Senate.
Minority leader Leader of the minority party in either the House or the Senate.
Minority whip Performs duties of whip for the minority party.
Quorum The number of members whose presence is necessary for the transaction of business. In the Senate and House, it is a majority of the membership.
Report A committee's written record on its actions and views on a bill. The committee "reports" its findings to the House or Senate.
Resolution A formal statement of a decision or opinion by the House or Senate or both. A simple resolution is made by one chamber and generally deals with that chamber's rules or prerogatives. A concurrent resolution is presented in both chambers and usually expresses a congressional view on a matter not within congressional jurisdiction. A joint resolution also requires approval in both chambers and goes to the President for approval. Simple and concurrent resolutions do not go to the President.
Rider An amendment, usually not germane, that its sponsor hopes to get through more easily by including it in other legislation. Riders become law if the bills embodying them are enacted.
Supplemental appropriation bill Legislation appropriating funds after the regular annual appropriation bill for a federal department or agency has been enacted.