GLOSSARY OF LEGISLATIVE TERMS
At times, it may seem as though the political sector uses
a language all its own. Following are a few key terms
that surgeon-advocates are likely to encounter:
• Appropriations bill: Legislation that provides
funds for authorized programs.
• Authorization bill: Legislation that establishes
a program and sets funding limits.
• Companion bills: Identical bills introduced
separately in the House and Senate.
• Congressional Budget Office (CBO): A federal agency that provides
nonpartisan information about how legislation will affect the U.S.
economy and budget. Most commonly, the CBO will issue a “score” on
a bill, which describes the economic impact of specific legislation.
• Continuing resolution: A resolution enacted to allow specific
executive branch agencies to continue operating even though funds
have not been appropriated for them for the following fiscal year.
• Grassroots advocacy: When constituents reach out directly
to their legislators to advocate on a topic. For example, when
members take action on a SurgeonsVoice action alert.
• Grasstops advocacy: Using key contacts within an organization
to target specific legislators. For example, if a surgeon has ties to
the Speaker of the House, then the ACS advocacy team might call
upon that Fellow to contact the Speaker on a specific topic.
• Hotline: Used to advance legislation in the Senate when
there is unanimous consent among all senators.
• Joint resolution: Legislation similar to a bill that has the force
of law if passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by
the president; generally reserved for special circumstances.
• Resolution: A measure passed only in one chamber
to express the sentiment of that body. A simple
resolution does not have the force of law.
• Under suspension: Allows for an expedited voting process
for noncontroversial items in the House. A two-thirds
majority vote is required to suspend the rules.
• Voice vote: A vote conducted by voice with no official
roll call. These are typically used for noncontroversial
bills or for House/Senate procedural votes.*
regulation of food, drugs, and cosmetics; and drug abuse.
• House Ways and Means: The jurisdiction of the Ways and Means
Committee includes bills and matters related to payment (from any
source) for health care, health delivery systems, or health research;
health care programs of the Social
Security Act; and, concurrent with
the full committee, tax credit and
deduction provisions of the Internal
Revenue Code dealing with health
insurance premiums and health care
• Senate Finance: The Senate Finance
Committee reviews bills and resolutions pertaining to health care
programs under the Social Security
Act, including Medicare, Medicaid,
the Children’s Health Insurance
Program, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, as well as
other health and human services programs financed by a specific tax or
• Senate HELP: The HELP Committee
has jurisdiction over bills and matters related to health care, education,
and employment and retirement policies, including measures relating to
education and training, labor, health,
and public welfare.
• House and Senate Appropriations Committees: The House and Senate Appropriations Committees hold considerable sway over health policy
in that they set the expenditures of
*American College of Surgeons. Surgeons As Advocates: A SurgeonsVoice Handbook
for Advocacy. February 20, 2017. Available at: facs.org/~/media/files/advocacy/state/
surgeons%20as%20advocates%20handbook.ashx. Accessed on February 20, 2017.