Glossary - of terms related to government Online Glossaries
  U.S. Senate Glossary
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Air dropped insertion of something unanticipated,  like an earmark,  into a bill while in a conference committee step
Anarchy several possible definitions including 1)  a society without a publicly enforced government,  2)  political disorder or lawlessness within a society
Appropriations Bill a legislative bill that authorizes the government to spend money on specific programs previously enacted by Congress.
Aristocracy a form of government in which power is in the hands of a small, privileged,  ruling class
Autocracy a system of government in which a supreme power is concentrated in the hands of one person

Baseline (budget) a base version of the federal budget; often used to measure proposals against
Beaurocracy a body of nonelective government officials and/or an administrative policy-making group
Behest a donation to a charity group; typically solicited by a politician
Biannual event occuring twice a year (same meaning as semi-annual)
Biennial event occuring every 2 years
Bicameral use of 2 separate organizations  (houses)  to produce legislative law
Bill of Attainder an act of a legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without privilege of a judicial trial
Binding caucus an attempt to pressure senators to vote according to the party caucus position,  or suffer the effects of party disciplinary action
Bourgeosie in the Western world,  since the late 18th century, the bourgeoisie describes a social class “characterized by their ownership of capital, and their related culture”
Brinkmanship The practice of pushing dangerous events to the brink-of—disaster in order to achieve the most advantageous outcome.  Implies one person or group vs another in a struggle for power,  influence,  or recognition,  etc.
Budget Resolution a concurrent resolution adopted by both Houses of Congress as part of the annual budget and appropriations process,  setting forth an overall budget plan for Congress against which individual appropriation bills,  other spending bills,  and revenue measures are to be evaluated.  As a plan of Congress,  the resolution is not presented to the President for signature and does not have the force of law.
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Cabol no Wikipedia or Webster's definition
Calendar of General Orders in the Senate, the Calendar for all legislative bills not dealing with approving treaties or nominations (from the Executive branch)
Capitalism an economic system in which capital assets are privately owned and items are brought to market for profit
Capitation tax a tax upon each person;  associated with health care or voting
Casework services for a constituent in the Senator's state
Caucus A meeting of members of a specific political party;  commonly for determining party policy,  and for selecting preferred persons for specific positions.
CBO Congressional Budget Office
Circa means "approximately", usually referring to a date
Civil War a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic
Collegiality the relationship between colleagues
Comity In law,  comity specifically refers to legal reciprocity — the principle that one jurisdiction will extend certain courtesies to other nations  (or other jurisdictions within the same nation),  particularly by recognizing the validity and effect of their executive,  legislative,  and judicial acts
Communism a classless, moneyless,  and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production
Concurrent Resolution the annual budget resolution is an example of a concurrent resolution.  It is a resolution adopted by both Houses of Congress,  setting forth an overall budget plan for Congress against which individual appropriation bills,  other spending bills,  and revenue measures are to be evaluated
Confederacy an association of sovereign states or communities
Conference Committee a committee composed of both senators and representatives to resolve differences, when the versions of a bill passed by both Houses do not agree
Conservatism a political and social philosophy that promotes retaining traditional social institutions
Constitution a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed
Constitutional directives specific responsibilites and directions in the Constitution addressed to agencies and individuals
Constitutionalism the attitude that the rules by which we are governed and live should be in written form (a constitution)
Constitutional option usually relates to ending a filibuster in the Senate. Per the Constitution, a majority of Senators at the beginning of a legislative session could change the rules under which they will operate in the coming session; to limit debate, say, to end a filibuster.
Continuing Resolution this is an appropriation act that provides spending authority for Federal agencies and programs to continue in operation when action on the regular appropriation acts has not been completed by the beginning of the fiscal year.
Corporate Capitalism a capitalist marketplace characterized by the dominance of hierarchical, bureaucratic corporations
Coup de etat the sudden deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment — typically the military — to depose the extant government and replace it with another body, civil or military
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Dais (per the U.S. Senate) a raised platform at the head of the Senate Chambers,  reserved for officers, employees,   and leaders of the Senate,  and for use of the 2 principal political parties
Deceit acts to propagate beliefs that are not true, or not the whole truth
Democracy a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws
Democrat A member of a Democratic Party
Demonstration (political meaning) - a political rally or protest
Despotism a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power
DHS Department of Homeland Security
Dictatorship an autocratic or authoritarian form of government in which a government is ruled by either an individual: a dictator, or an authoritarian party, as in an oligarchy
Direct spending mandatory spending; budget authority provided by law other than in appropriation acts.
Discharge petition a means of bringing a bill out of committee and to the floor for consideration without a report from the committee and usually without cooperation of the leadership by "discharging" the committee from further consideration of a bill or resolution.  The modern discharge petition requires the signature of an absolute majority of House members
Discretionary spending a category of spending (budget authority and outlays) provided in and controlled by annual appropriation acts

Earmark a legislative provision that directs funds to be spent on specific projects
Egalitarian all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status
Emancipation any of various efforts to procuring political rights or equality, often for a specifically disenfranchised group
Emmigration the act of leaving one's country or region with the intent to settle permanently in another
Entitlement a legal obligation of the Federal Government to make payments to a person(s) or entity that meets the eligibility criteria set in law and for which the budget authority is not provided in advance in an appropriation act. Examples of entitlements are Social Security and Medicare
Estates-General (general meaning in France) - relative to the French Revolution, 'Estates-General' referred to the common people, and a governing body representing these people. Further, Estates-General (equivilent to the 'third estate', or common people) was to be considered equal in power/status to the 'first estate' (the clergy), and the 'second estate' (the aristocracy).
Executive Calendar in the Senate, the Calendar of treaties and nominations requiring approval from the Executive branch
Ex post facto law a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences (or status) of actions that were committed, or relationships that existed, before the enactment of the law
Ex post veto changes in a bill while in a conference committee which veto's previous changes to the bill made in either house
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Fascism fascist movements share certain common features, including the veneration of the state, a devotion to a strong leader, and an emphasis on ultranationalism and militarism
Faction a group of people with a common political purpose
Federalism a system of government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (such as states or provinces)
Federation a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central (federal) government
Featherbedding the practice of hiring more workers than are needed to perform a given job, or to adopt work procedures which appear pointless, complex and time-consuming merely to employ additional workers. The term "make-work" is sometimes used as a synonym for featherbedding
Fiefdom A fee or fief (Latin: feudum) was the central element of feudalism and consisted of heritable property or rights granted by an overlord to a vassal (or, specifically, a feoffee) who held it in fealty (or "in fee") in return for a form of feudal allegiance and service, usually given by the personal ceremonies of homage and fealty
Fifth Estate A group within a society that is seen as operating outside of the society's normal groupings in terms of their roles and viewpoints, especially a group that is considered beyond the restrictions or rules of those other groupings
Fill the Amendment Tree a parliamentary maneuver whereby the Majority Leader of the Senate submits all of the amendments allowed on a legislative bill, because he/she has first rights of recognition on the Senate floor
First Estate (general meaning in France) - relative to the French Revolution, the first estate was the religious order, or clergy
Franking the right of a Senator to mail at government expense information to consituents in his/her state
FY fiscal year

Gentry denotes "well-born and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past
Germane related to; relevant to; pertinent; bearing on the subject
Gerrymander a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries to create partisan advantaged districts
Greed the inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects of abstract value with the intention to keep it for one's self, far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort
Gridlock non-progress and non-decisions in government as result of competing power and/or interests
Gut and Amend a process in which legislative leaders remove important  (and likely controversial)  issues from a bill,  and add other issues to the bill  (like earmarks),  substantially changing the intent of the bill.  This process is often done when a legislative session is about to end,  and the respective bill must be approved or die.  This gives voting representatives little time to evaluate the bill
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Habeus Corpus a writ (legal action) that requires a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court
Hegemony an indirect form of government, and of imperial dominance in which the hegemon (leader state) rules geopolitically subordinate states by the implied means of power, the threat of force, rather than by direct military force
Hold a Senate agreement that a senator may 'hold up' voting on a bill becuse he/she has unresolved concerns about the bill; stands in place of the senator filibustering the bill
Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence,  accomplishments or capabilities,  especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power

Immigration the movement of people into another country or region to which they are not native in order to settle there
Imperial that which relates to an empire, emperor, or the concept of imperialism
Imperialism an unequal human and territorial relationship, usually in the form of an empire, based on ideas of superiority and practices of dominance, and involving the extension of authority and control of one state or people over another
Impoundment an action or inaction by an officer or employee of the U.S. Government that defers or precludes the obligation or expenditure of budget authority
Indentured servant a form of debt bondage, established in the early years of the American colonies and elsewhere
Independent not affiliated with any political party
Intelligentsia a social class of people engaged in complex mental labour aimed at disseminating culture
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JCT Joint Committee on Taxation
Joint Committee a committee which spans the jurisdictions of 1 or more standing committees?
or, a committee composed of equal members from the House and the Senate?

Joint Resolution a Resolution which is submitted in identical form to both the Senate and House of Representatives for approval

Kickback A clandestine payment in return for a favor; especially an illegal one
Kingdom A nation having as supreme ruler a king and/or queen

Landed nobility a category of nobility in various countries over the history, for which landownership was part of their noble privileges
Liberal liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and private property
Libertarian a set of related political philosophies that uphold liberty as the highest political end. This includes emphasis on the primacy of individual liberty, political freedom, and voluntary association
Line Item Veto a special form of veto that authorizes a chief executive to reject particular provisions of a bill enacted by a legislature without vetoing the entire bill
Lobbying the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies
Logjam So many seemingly important things need to be considered, each with its own advocates,  that the process tends to become inefficient
Logrolling logrolling is the trading of favors,  or quid pro quo,  such as vote trading by legislative members to obtain passage of actions of interest to each legislative member
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Malice a legal term describing the intent to harm
Mandatory spending also known as direct spending. Budget authority provided by law other than in appropriation acts
Markup Session a committee or sub-committee meeting in which the bill being considered is discussed line by line, and possibly amended
Mixed Government also known as a mixed constitution, is a form of government that integrates elements of democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy. In a mixed government, some issues (often defined in a constitution) are decided by the majority of the people, some other issues by few, and some other issues by a single person (also often defined in a constitution). The idea is commonly treated as an antecedent of separation of powers
Meritocracy a political philosophy that holds power should be vested in individuals according to merit. Advancement in such a system is based on perceived intellectual talent measured through examination and/or demonstrated achievement in the field where it is implemented
Monarchist monarchism is a system based on the belief that political power should be concentrated in one person, who may rule by decree or through a constitutional system. A monarchist is an individual who supports this form of government, independent from the person, the monarch
Monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity
Monopsony in economics, a monopsony is a market form in which only one buyer faces many sellers
Moribund law moribund refers to a literal or figurative state of near-death

National a term indicating the entire nation;  rather than some subset of it
Nepotism favoritism granted in politics or business to relatives regardless of merit
Nuclear Option usually relates to ending a filibuster in the Senate. A generic term for a set of hypothetical parliamentary maneuvers that could be used to achieve approval of certain motions (typically to limit subsequent debate) by a majority vote, rather than the "super-majority" required by current Senate rules and precedents
Nihilism most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value
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Oligarchy a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people
Ombudsman a person designated to resolve complaints, differences, or questions (often a government official)
Omnibus bill a single document that is accepted in a single vote by a legislature but packages together several measures into one or combines diverse subjects

Parliament the term is derived from the French parlement, the action of parler (to speak): a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which such a discussion took place. It acquired its modern meaning as it came to be used for the body of people (in an institutional sense) who would meet to discuss matters of state
Parliamentary a system of democratic governance of a state in which the executive branch derives its democratic legitimacy from, and is held accountable to, the legislature (parliament); the executive and legislative branches are thus interconnected
Parliamentary maneuver a strategic use of motions, in parliamentary procedure, intended to accomplish results beyond the stated and obvious purpose of the motion
Parliamentary procedure a formal process for conducting business in a group;  allowing for submitting motions,  points of order,  adjournment,  voting,  etc.  (takes its name from England's Parliament)
Party patronage patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another
Pay-as-you-go A budgetary enforcement mechanism. Under this mechanism, proposed changes in, or new permanent, law affecting direct spending and revenues were expected to be deficit neutral. Statutory paygo was enforced through sequestration (across-the-board cuts in certain direct spending programs).
Peculation an act of embezzlement;  a form of financial fraud in the theft of assets
Peonage a type of involuntary servitude of laborers  (peons)  having little control over their employment conditions
Pigeonholing death to a legislative bill by a committee or subcommittee inaction on the bill
plebe in ancient Rome, the plebs was the general body of free Roman citizens who were not patricians, as determined by the census. Shopkeepers, crafts people, and skilled or unskilled workers might be plebeian
Pluralism denotes a diversity of views and stands rather than a single approach or method of interpretation
Plutocracy also known as plutonomy or plutarchy, defines a society or a system ruled and dominated by the small minority of the top wealthiest citizens
Pogrom a pogrom is a violent massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group, particularly one aimed at Jews
Poison Pill one legislative bill's validity is dependent on another bill passing?
Polity a state or one of its subordinate civil authorities, such as a province, prefecture, county, municipality, city, or district. It is generally understood to mean a geographic area with a corresponding government
Poll tax a tax per head,  typically used  (mostly in the past)  to raise revenue
Pomposity quality of being ostentatious or self-important
Pork abbreviation of 'pork-barrel projects'
Pork-barrel projects projects which benefit only 1 or a few districts or states
Positivism a philosophy of science based on the view that information derived from logical and mathematical treatments and reports of sensory experience is the exclusive source of all authoritative knowledge
President's budget The budget sent to Congress by the President typically on the first Monday in February of each year, requesting new budget authority for Federal programs and estimating Federal revenues and outlays for the upcoming fiscal year
Proletariat the class of wage-earners (especially industrial workers) in a capitalist society whose only possession of significant material value is their labour-power (their ability to work)
Propaganda form of communication aimed towards influencing the attitude of the community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument
Province a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state
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Quid pro quo an exchange of goods or services, where one transfer is contingent upon the other
Quorum the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly (a body that uses parliamentary procedure, such as a legislature) necessary to conduct the business of that group

Reciprocity an unwritten rule in the Senate that honors the mutual exchange of rights, privileges and/or obligations between majority and minority parties (responsible person is the party leader)
Recission legislation that cancels the availability of previously enacted budget authority before the authority expires
Reconciliation process A special,  fast-track process by which Congress,  in its budget resolution,  includes instructions to specific committees,  directing them to report legislation by a certain date that changes spending and/or revenues.  Reconciliation is governed by special rules that limit debate and the ability of Senators to offer amendments
Red herring A term used to refer to something that misleads or distracts from the relevant or important issue.  Thismay be either a logical fallacy or a literary device that leads readers or characters towards a false conclusion.
Representative a member of a legislative or governing body who represents a constituency
Republic a form of government in which affairs of state are a "public matter" (Latin: res publica), not the private concern of the rulers, in which public offices are subsequently appointed or elected rather than privately accommodated, i.e. through inheritance or divine mandate
Republican an advocate of a republic, a form of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is generally associated with the rule of law
Resolution a formal statement adopted by  (or submitted for consideration of)  an assembly.  Can be of type concurrent,  continuing,  joint,  or simple.  A budget resolution specifies how much the federal government will spend in the next fiscal year,  how much it expects to collect in taxes,  and how much the budget deficit or surplus is expected to be.
Revolution a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time
Rhetoric the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the capability of writers or speakers that attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations
Rider an amendment to a legislative bill which is not germane to the original bill
Rule 19 a formal Senate rule that senators must address each other on the Senate floor with cordiality; not belittling another senator
Rule 22 a formal Senate rule that includes governing  'cloture';  setting a time limit on debate for a bill,  followed by a vote

Scorekeeping the process for estimating budget authority, outlay, revenue and deficit levels that result from legislative actions
Second Estate (general meaning in France) - relative to the French Revolution, the second estate was the aristocracy, the class of people who inherited property and political or clergy position?
Select Committee a committee made up of members specifically selected to study and return findings on some subject of importance
Seniority the concept of a person or group of people being older or in charge or command of another person or group, or taking precedence over them; in the Senate, seniority refers to the length of time one has been a senator
Sequester/sequestration the cancellation of budgetary resources provided by discretionary appropriations or direct spending laws. Often these cancellations are done 'across the board', on a percentage basis
Serf serfdom is the status of peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to manorialism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted in some countries until the mid-19th century
SIG (Special Interest Group) a community with a common technical interest
Simple Resolution a resolution which must pass only the body (Senate or House) in which it is submitted
Sine die without specifying a date (for a future event); indefinitely
Slip law an enacted law printed on loose paper;  not yet bound
Socialism an economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy
Soft Money a contribution to a political party that is not accounted as going to a particular candidate,  thus avoiding various legal limitations
Sovereignty the quality of having independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory
Standpatter a relative term indicating a person unwilling to change some item
Sunshine Reforms reforms of various kinds which result in increased public knowledge of activity
Supplemental appropriation an act appropriating funds in addition to those in the regular annual appropriations acts. Supplemental appropriations are often designated as emergency requirements and are for unexpected and non-recurring purposes
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Technocratic a technocrat has come to mean either 'a member of a powerful technical elite', or 'someone who advocates the supremacy of technical experts'
The Fourth Estate a societal or political force or institution whose influence is not consistently or officially recognized. "Fourth Estate" most commonly refers to the news media; especially print journalism or 'The Press'
Think Tank a group of people who collectively perform research and develop reports and recommendations on topics relating to strategic planning or public policy, and which is usually funded by corporate, government, or special interests
Third Estate (general meaning in France) - relative to the French Revolution, the third estate was the common people, represented in the Revolution by the 'Estates-General' governing body
Third House a modern term,  indicating the influence of the lobbying community on legislation
Toll-boothing a political term indicating a senator extracting special considerations in exchange for not being obstructionist with his/her senate rights relative to a current bill.
Totalitarianism a term employed by some political scientists to describe a political system in which the state holds total authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life whenever necessary
Tyranny a despotically ruled state or society

Unanimous Consent Agreement an agreement by Senators,  which must be unanimous,  to temporarily suspend some specific rule.  This Agreement is very commonly used in the Senate to make the legislative process more time-efficient
Unfunded mandate in general, federal statutes and regulations that require state, local, or tribal governments or the private sector to expend resources to achieve legislative goals without being provided federal funding to cover the costs
Unicameral the practice of having one legislative or parliamentary chamber