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Senate Glossary Terms F - N

filibuster - Informal term for any attempt to block or delay Senate action on a bill or other matter by debating it at length, by offering numerous procedural motions, or by any other delaying or obstructive actions.

floor leaders - The Majority Leader and Minority Leader are elected by their respective party conferences to serve as the chief Senate spokesmen for their parties and to manage and schedule the legislative and executive business of the Senate. By custom, the Presiding Officer gives the floor leaders priority in obtaining recognition to speak on the floor of the Senate.

floor - Action "on the floor" is that which occurs as part of a formal session of the full Senate. An action "from the floor" is one taken by a Senator during a session of the Senate. A Senator who has been recognized to speak by the Chair is said to "have the floor."

germane - On the subject of the pending bill or other business; a strict standard of relevance.

hearing - A meeting of a committee or subcommittee -- generally open to the public -- to take testimony in order to gather information and opinions on proposed legislation, to conduct an investigation, or review the operation or other aspects of a Federal agency or program.

item veto - Authority to veto part rather than all of an appropriations act. The President does not now have item-veto authority. He must sign or veto the entire appropriations act. The item veto sometimes is referred to as a line-item veto.

joint meeting - An occasion, often ceremonial, when the House and Senate meet together to hear an address by various dignitaries, such as foreign leaders.

joint session - When the House and Senate meet together to conduct formal business or to hear an address by the President of the United States.

lame duck session - When Congress (or either chamber) reconvenes in an even-numbered year following the November general elections to consider various items of business. Some lawmakers who return for this session will not be in the next Congress. Hence, they are informally called "lame duck" Members participating in a "lame duck" session.

leave to sit - Permission for a committee to meet during the proceedings of the parent chamber. Under Senate Rule XXVI committees are forbidden to meet after the first two hours of the Senate's daily session, and in no case after 2 p.m. while the Senate is in session, without special permission from the majority and minority leaders.

legislative day - A "day" that starts when the Senate meets after an adjournment and ends when the Senate next adjourns. Hence, a legislative day may extend over several calendar days or even weeks and months.

majority leader - see Floor Leaders

mandatory spending - Spending (budget authority and outlays) controlled by laws other than annual appropriations acts.

measure - Term embracing bill, resolution and other matters on which the Senate takes action.

minority whip - See Whips.

motion to proceed to consider - A motion, usually offered by the Majority Leader to bring a bill or other measure up for consideration. The usual way of bringing a measure to the floor when unanimous consent to do so cannot be obtained. For legislative business, the motion is debatable under most circumstances, and therefore may be subject to filibuster.

must pass bill - A vitally important measure that Congress must enact, such as annual money bills to fund operations of the government. Because of their must-pass quality, these measures often attract "riders" (unrelated policy provisos).

nongermane amendment - An amendment that would add new and different subject matter to, or may be irrelevant to, the bill or other measure it seeks to amend. Senate rules permit nongermane amendments in all but a few specific circumstances.

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