Lobbying 101: Resources and Glossary
Lobbying and Political Action: What is Permissable for a 501(c)(3) Organization
Communicating with Elected Officials
Media Communications for Advocacy Campaigns
Working with an Advocacy Coalition
Developing a Grassroots Network
Ten on Tuesday: How to Lobby for Preservation
Act: Legislation that has passed both houses of Congress and has been signed by the president or passed over his veto, thus becoming law.
Adjournment Sine Die: Adjournment without a definite day fixed for reconvening, literally “adjournment without day.” Usually used to connote the final adjournment of a session of Congress. A session can continue until noon January 3rd of the following year, when a new session usually begins.
Amendment: Proposal to alter the language or stipulations in a bill or resolution.
Appropriation Bill: A legislative act authorizing the expenditure of a specific amount of public funds for a group of federal programs. All appropriations bills originate in the House of Representatives.
Authorization Bill: Authorization of a program, specifying its general aim and conduct and, unless “open-ended,” putting a ceiling on monies that can be used to finance it. Usually enacted before an appropriation bill is passed.
Bill Status: The stage of progress of a bill in the legislative process, i.e. a description of upcoming and already completed actions on a bill.
Budget: The document sent to Congress by the president each year, estimating revenue and expenditures for the coming fiscal year beginning on October 1 and recommending appropriations. The president’s budget message is the basis for congressional hearings and legislation on appropriations.
Cloture: The process by which debate can be limited in the Senate, other than by unanimous consent. A motion for cloture can apply to any measure before the Senate, including a proposal to change the chamber’s rules. It is put to a roll-call vote one hour after the Senate meets on the second day following introduction of the motion. If voted, cloture limits each senator to one hour of debate. Sixty votes are required to invoke cloture.
Companion bill: A piece of legislation considered in one house of Congress, which is identical or similar to legislation in the other house.
Conference: A meeting between the representatives of the House and Senate to reconcile differences between the two houses over provisions of similar bills that have been passed by each chamber. Members of the conference committee are appointed by the Speaker and the president of the Senate, and are called “managers” for their respective chambers. Informally, they may also be referred to as “conferees.”
Continuing Appropriations: When a fiscal year begins and the Congress has not yet enacted all the regular appropriation bills for that year, it passes a joint resolution “continuing appropriations” for government agencies at rates generally based on their previous year’s appropriations. (Used interchangeably with Continuing Resolution (CR))
Filibuster: A time-delaying tactic used by a minority in an effort to prevent a vote on a bill that probably would pass if brought to a vote. The most common method is to take advantage of the Senate’s rules permitting unlimited debate, but other forms of parliamentary maneuvering are used. The stricter rules in the House make such delaying tactics much more difficult there.
Fiscal Year: The 12-month period of government financial operations beginning October 1st and ending September 30th. It carries the date of the calendar year in which it ends.
H.R.: House of Representatives. These initials are used before the identifying number of a bill introduced by the House (i.e. H.R. 1234).
Hearings: Committee sessions for hearing witnesses. At hearings on legislation, witnesses usually include spokespersons for interests affected by the bills under study. Hearings conducted as part of special investigations involve large numbers of witnesses. Committees sometimes use their subpoena power to summon reluctant witnesses. The public and press may attend “open” hearings, but are barred from “closed” or “executive” hearings.
Joint Committee: A committee composed of a specified number of members of both House and Senate, usually investigative in nature. There are a few standing joint committees, such as the Joint Economic Committee.
Joint Resolution: An official act requiring the approval of both houses and the signature of the president and having the force of law. There is no real difference between a bill and a joint resolution. The latter is generally used in dealing with limited matters, such as a single appropriation for a specific purpose. Joint resolutions are also used to propose amendments to the Constitution when ratified by three-fourths of the states.
Majority Leader: Chief strategist and floor spokesperson for the majority party in either chamber.
Majority Whip: In effect, the assistant majority leader in the House or Senate. Helps marshal majority forces in support of party strategy, particularly in rounding up votes on the floor and conducting vote counts in advance of floor consideration to determine where the party stands.
Marking Up a Bill: Considering amendments to a measure in committee, taking it section by section, revising language, penciling in new phrases, etc. If the bill is extensively revised, the new version may be introduced as a separate bill, with a new number.
National Historic Preservation Fund: The Department of Interior’s matching grant program funding the states, tribes, and certified local governments, and making grants to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for specific projects.
Override a Veto: A two-thirds roll-call vote in each chamber that sets aside a presidential veto.
Pocket Veto: The act of a president in withholding his approval of a bill after Congress has adjourned—either for the year or for a specified period. When Congress is in session, a bill becomes law without the president’s signature if he has not acted upon it by 10 days (Sundays excluded) after receiving it. If Congress adjourns within that 10-day period, the bill is killed without the president’s formal veto.
Proxy: The authority given by one congressman to another to cast his vote on a legislative measure in a committee mark-up. Proxy voting is not allowed on the floor of the House or Senate.
Recess: Distinguished from adjournment in that a recess does not end a legislative day and therefore does not interfere with unfinished business. The House, which operates under much stricter rules than the Senate, usually adjourns from day to day. The Senate often recesses.
Report: Both a verb and a noun, as a congressional term. A committee, which has been examining a bill referred to it by the parent chamber, “reports” its finding and recommendations to the chamber when the committee returns the measure. The process is called “reporting” a bill.
A “report” is the document setting forth the committee’s explanation of its action. House and Senate reports are numbered separately and are designated S Rept. or H Rept. Conference Reports are numbered and designated in the same way as committee reports.
Resolution: A simple resolution, designated H Res or S Res, deals with matters entirely within the prerogative of one house or the other. It requires neither passage by the other chamber nor approval by the president, and does not have the force of law. Most resolutions deal with the rules of one house.
Rule: The term has two specific congressional meanings. A rule may be a standing order governing the conduct of House or Senate business and listed in the chamber’s book of rules. The rules deal with duties of officers, order of business, admission to the floor, voting procedures, etc. In the House, a rule also may be a decision made by its Rules Committee about the handling of a particular bill on the floor. If the rule is adopted by the House, the temporary rule becomes as valid as any standing rule, and lapses only after action has been completed on the measure to which it pertains.
S.: Senate. This letter is used before the identifying number of a bill introduced in the Senate (i.e. S.3456).
Special Session: A session of Congress after it has adjourned sine die, completing its regular session. Special sessions are convened by the president of the United States under his constitutional powers.
Supplemental Appropriations: Normally are passed after the regular appropriation to meet unanticipated and generally emergency expenses.
Veto: Disapproval by the president of a bill or joint resolution, other than one proposing an amendment to the Constitution. When Congress is in session, the president must veto a bill within 10 days, excluding Sundays, after he has received it; otherwise it becomes law with or without his signature. When the president vetoes a bill he returns it to the house of its origin with a message stating his objections. The veto then becomes a question of high privilege. (See Override a Veto.)
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The text in this section is adapted and updated by the Preservation Leadership Forum team from the 2002 edition of A Blueprint for Lobbying which was first published in 1984 by Preservation Action. The first edition was written by Mona B. Ferrugia, edited by Nellie L. Longsworth with Julia Churchhman, Kathryn Nichols, Elle Wynn, and Chas A. Miller III contributing. The 2002 edition was substantially expanded and updated by Susan West Montgomery.