Many people shy away from participating in advocacy efforts because they are uncomfortable with the terminology used.
Fears of being grilled by a lawmaker’s office and not understanding what is being asked of you can be a bit intimidating at times. The truth is, to advocate on behalf of your profession and your patients only requires passion and a willingness to tell your story, but understanding the terminology used on Capitol Hill is always helpful.
To help you understand the language of lawmaking, “From the College” offers explanations of the words and terms often used on Capitol Hill (and in ACR communication). These words and terms are actions taken by members of Congress, and they have the same meaning in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Here are a few terms for this month.
Lame duck session: A lame duck session is when Congress (or either chamber) reconvenes in an even-numbered year following the November general elections to consider various items of business. Some of these members may have lost their bid for re-election or are retiring, so they will not be back in the next Congress. These members are considered “lame ducks.”
Filibuster: A filibuster is when a lawmaker attempts to hold the floor to prevent a vote from occurring. This person will debate the matter at great length and will offer motions and other information to hold the floor until time runs out on the issue and a vote is avoided. A common phrase in the senate is that you need at least 60 co-sponsors so that a filibuster will not occur.
Cloture: Cloture is a way to limit debate or to end a filibuster. Sixty co-sponsors is the magic number for cloture to be invoked in the Senate.
Continuing resolution: A continuing resolution provides budget authority for a federal agency or program to continue to function until new appropriations occur. You may recall that in 2007, Congress passed a continuing resolution that extended the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Throughout the year, “From the College” will add to this list by explaining the words and terms you might hear or use in your advocacy efforts. If you would like additional information on any advocacy issues, or if you have questions regarding the language of lawmaking, contact Aiken Hackett at [email protected] or Kristin Wormley at [email protected].