Glossary of Legislative Terms
Act: Legislation that has passed both chambers of Congress in identical form, been signed into law by the President, or passed over his veto, thus becoming law.
Amendment: Formal proposal to change the language of a bill after it has been introduced. Amendments must be submitted to Legislative Counsel for drafting. Measures may be amended more than once.
Bill: A measure that creates new law, amends or repeals existing law, appropriates money, prescribes fees, transfers functions from one agency to another, provides penalties, or takes other action
Cloture: A procedure to close off debate. The Senate can vote to invoke a cloture, or time limit on consideration of a bill or other matter, and thereby overcome a filibuster. A cloture petition requires 60 votes to pass, unlike most motions or measures, which only require a majority to pass (51 votes).
Committee: A subdivision of the Senate or House that considers legislation, conducts hearings and investigations, or carries out other assignments as instructed by the chamber. Most Committees are divided into specialized subcommittees. For example, the House Appropriations Committee has a Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.
Conference Committee: usually composed of three legislators (generally two from the majority party; one from the minority party) from each house who meet in public session to forge one version of similar Senate and Assembly bills. The final conference committee version must be approved by both Assembly and Senate. Assembly conferees are chosen by the Speaker; Senate conferees are chosen by the Senate Rules Committee.
Congressional Record: A verbatim account of daily proceedings on the House and Senate floor. It is printed daily when the House or Senate is in session.
Filibuster: A tactic in which a Senator holds the floor for an extended period of time in order to delay or prevent a vote on an issue. A filibuster cannot occur in the House of Representatives since speaking time is limited.
Joint Resolution: A legislative measure, designated "S. J. Res." and numbered consecutively upon introduction, which requires the approval of both chambers and is submitted (just as a bill would be) to the President for possible signature into law.
Mark-up: The process by which congressional committees and subcommittees debate, amend, and rewrite proposed legislation.
Resolution: A measure used by the House or the Senate (a measure used by both would be a joint resolution) to take an action that would affect only its own members, such as appointing a committee of its members, or expressing an opinion or sentiment on a matter of public interest.
Sponsor: The legislator(s), state agency, or legislative committee which introduces a measure. The name of this person or committee is printed at the top of the measure.
Subcommittee: A subordinate committee composed of members appointed by the chair (or by House or Senate leadership) from the full committee. A subcommittee will consider a narrower range of topics than the full committee, and generally is authorized only to make recommendations to the full committee.
Task Force: A legislative committee authorized by legislative leadership to study a specific subject for a specified period of time. A task force may contain lay members and is different from a committee in that it typically considers a narrow subject within a broader topic area.
Whip: A term used at the federal level to refer to the deputy majority leader. It derives from the British fox-hunting term "whipper-in," which described the person responsible for keeping the foxhounds from leaving the pack. Some, but not all, of the caucuses in the Oregon Legislature use the term "whip" in reference to the deputy majority or minority leader.