For those grassroots advocates who have been taking their message to Congress for any amount of time will quickly come to understand that Capitol Hill is a subculture of the Washington political world. As with any subculture, Congress his it’s own terms and lingo. To be a better grassroots advocate, it is sometimes helpful to have an understanding of what these terms mean and how to best use them when speaking with legislators. Below is a list of a few Congressional terms that maybe helpful to grassroots advocates. Information is taken from senate.gov and for a more in-depth glossary of Congressional terms, please click here.
Authorization: Legislation that establishes federal programs or policy. Does not fund established programs.
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR): Is the codes and rules of the federal government. Published in the Federal Register.
Committees: Subsections of the Congress that works on assigned issues of jurisdiction.
Companion bills: Similar legislation that is introduced in by the House and Senate often in a coordinated effort to gain support.
Conference: Selected Members of the House and Senate who meet to resolve differences between two versions of a bill that have passed their respective chambers.
Continuing Resolution (CR): Legislation that funds the federal government for a short amount of time when a full year appropriations bill has not been passed. A CR will fund the federal government at the previous fiscal year level unless otherwise stated.
Dear Colleague Letter: A letter sent between Members of Congress. Dear Colleague Letters are often used to ask for support of an issue or to share information on an issue.
Discretionary spending: Spending in which Congress can determine the direction of the funds. Discretionary spending is split up between defense discretionary spending and non-defense discretionary spending.
Entitlement spending: Federal spending that Congress does not annually determine. Examples of entitlement spending are Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
Executive Orders: Is an order issued by the President that has the force of law.
Markup: When Congressional committees or subcommittees meet to consider legislation.
Political Action Committee (PAC): An organization regulated by the Federal Election Commission that raises and contributes to Congressional and Presidential candidates.
Written by Jeff Kratz, Guest Contributor, Sower Advocacy Group