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Act – a bill which has been passed into law or which has passed one chamber of a legislature.

Advocacy – a set of strategies and tactics for influencing social actions, as well as political and legislative outcomes.

Amendment – a change to a bill or law.

Appropriations – legislation which designates the use of public money.

Bill – a proposal for a new law or which changes an existing law.

Campaign – a process by which a person, entity, or coalition contacts lawmakers to urge them to take a specific action, typically to vote for or against a bill or amendment.

Coalition – a group of people or organizations working collectively toward shared goals and priorities.

Committee – a group of legislators with jurisdiction over certain public policy areas, such as the House Ways and Means Committee, which has oversight of taxation, revenues, and related issues. Committee members propose, debate, and vote on bills within a committee before bills can be debated or voted on by the full legislative body.

Congress – the legislative branch of the federal government, in which elected officials propose, debate, and vote for bills.

Congressional Staffer – a person who works for a member of Congress. Legislative staffer can refer to staff of members of other legislative bodies. For more information, see the Forum’s explanation of congressional staff roles and definitions.

Constituent – a person or organization residing within an elected official’s district.

Cosponsor – a lawmaker who supports a bill by adding their name to it.

Federal Agency – part of the administrative branch of the federal government, created by enabling legislation passed by Congress, which has jurisdiction over a particular public policy area. Agencies can write and enforce regulations, as well as fund and operate programs. They can also be structured as commissions or boards.

Fly-In – an event which convenes a group of constituent advocates in Washington, D.C., or a state capitol for the purpose of meeting with lawmakers to lobby for a particular action and set of priorities.

Hearing – a convening of lawmakers for the purpose of seeking information or reviewing bills.

House of Representatives – the chamber of Congress in which apportions seats based on population and Members serve two-year terms.

Legislator – someone who is elected to serve as a member of Congress or a state legislature.

Legislature – a group of elected officials with authority to pass laws.

Omnibus Appropriations Bill – a bill which packages together a number of smaller spending bills into a single bill which can be passed only with one vote in each chamber of Congress.

Recess – a period of time during which a legislature is out of session.

Regulation – a rule passed by a federal agency or similar entity which carries the force of law.

Representative – typically refers to a Member of the Congressional House of Representatives, but can also refer to a legislator who is a State Representative.

Senate – the chamber of Congress which has two elected officials per state, regardless of population, and in which officials serve six-year terms.

Senator – an elected official within the Senate. Can also refer to a state senator.

Sponsor – a lawmaker who introduces and leads efforts to pass a particular bill.

Voter Voice – a digital platform which the Forum uses to host and lead advocacy campaigns, including a tool for searching and viewing legislative text, legislator and staff contact information, as well as templates and scripts for writing and calling lawmakers about particular topics.

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