GLOSSARY OF LEGISLATIVE TERMS
By The Issue Wonk
House Legislative Calendars:
The Union Calendar Deals with bills that would raise revenues and spending (appropriations) bills.
The House Calendar Deals with public bills that do not raise revenues or appropriate any money or property.
The Consent Calendar Deals with bills that are not controversial and are passed without debate. This calendar is called on the first and third Monday of each month.
The Private Calendar Deals with claims against the United States.
Types of Legislation:
Bills Denoted with HR in the House and S in the Senate and then followed by an assigned number. This is the most common form of legislation.
Private Bill A bill that deals only with specific private, personal, or local matters other than with general legislative affairs. The main kinds include immigration and naturalization bills (referring to particular individuals) and personal claim bills.
Public Bill A legislative bill that deals with matters of general concern. A bill involving defense expenditures is a public bill.
Resolution Hres or Sres. This type of legislation is adopted only by the house that introduces it, and deals with issues concerning the operation of that house only.
Concurrent Resolutions H Con Res or S Con Res. This type of legislation does not become law. It deals with issues that relate to internal matters in both the House and the Senate.
Joint Resolutions HJ Res or SJ Res. These are treated much the same as bills with the exception of joint resolutions which propose amendments to the Constitution. A two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate must approve proposed amendments and then the Joint Resolution is sent to the states for ratification instead of the President.
Calendar Wednesday A procedure of the House of Representatives whereby Wednesdays may be used to call the roll of the standing committees for the purpose of bringing up any of their bills for consideration from the House or Union Calendar.
Cloture A motion in the Senate that will limit debate. It takes 60 votes to invoke cloture. Invoking cloture will end a filibuster.
Committee of the Whole The members of the House of Representatives organized into a committee for the consideration of bills and other matters. Most House business is transacted in the Committee of the Whole so that the formal requirements of its regular sessions, such as having a quorum of one-half of the membership, can be avoided.
Discharge Petition In the House, if a committee does not report a bill within 30 days after the measure is referred to it, any member may file a discharge motion. Once offered, the motion is treated as a petition needing the signatures of a majority of members (218 if there are no vacancies). After the required signatures have been obtained, there is a delay of 7 days. Thereafter, on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month, except during the last 6 days of a session, any member who has signed the petition must be recognized, if he/she so desires, to move that the committee be discharged. Debate on the motion to discharge is limited to 20 minutes and, if the motion is carried, consideration of the bill becomes a matter of high privilege.
Filibuster An attempt to defeat a bill in the Senate by talking indefinitely, thus preventing the Senate from doing any other work. The terms comes from the Spanish word filibustero, which means a freebooter, or a military adventurer.
Hopper Box on the clerk of the Houses desk where members deposit bills and resolutions to introduce them.
Morning Hour The time set aside at the beginning of each legislative day for the consideration of regular, routine business. The hour is of indefinite duration in the House, where it is rarely used.
Rider A provision, unlikely to pass on its own merits, added to an important bill so that it will ride through the legislative process.
Veto The power of a president, governor, or mayor to kill a piece of legislation by not signing it into law. From the Latin term veto, which means I forbid.
© The Issue Wonk, 2006