DC Dictionary

DC Dictionary

You hear it over and over, but you don't speak 'Inside the Beltway.' DC Dictionary demystifies Capitol Hill jargon for everyone to understand.

Budget reconciliation is a way for the U.S. Senate to pass budget bills with only 51 votes and avoid a filibuster altogether.

Demystifying the Senate’s budget reconciliation process

The Senate is either famous or infamous, depending on whom you ask, for requiring 60 votes to end a filibuster and pass legislation. But when it comes to money, there’s one way to get things done with a simple majority: budget reconciliation. Reconciliation allows budget measures to pass with just 51 votes. It was created [...]
Very little gets done in Washington, D.C. with everyone's approval, but when it does, it happens through unanimous consent.

What is unanimous consent?

Very little gets done in Washington with everyone’s approval. But when it does, it happens through unanimous consent. What is unanimous consent? It’s a parliamentary procedure senators and representatives can use on their chamber’s floor to expedite business. If a member of Congress wants to get something done quickly and bypass all the procedures that [...]
As Russia continues invading Ukraine, the United States and NATO continue to threaten sanctions to cripple the government's access to funds.

Cash, arms and yachts: Why all sanctions are not created equal

With military force not a feasible option, the United States is relying on sanctions to cripple Russia and avoid a world war. Russia is far from the only country facing America’s financial wrath through the use of sanctions. The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctions on more than two dozen entities at the moment. “When it comes [...]

What does it mean to censure a politician?

When it comes to political reprimands, there are several options, including expulsion, a vote of no-confidence, or a censure. Of those three, the censure is the least aggressive. It’s also the most common option, but even so, it isn’t utilized that frequently. A censure is a formal reprimand, but it has very few lasting impacts. [...]
Following the Watergate scandal, Congress passed the Public Records Act, ensuring presidential materials remain intact and public.

Presidential Records Act: Tracking documents from Watergate to Mar-a-Lago

The National Archives removed several boxes of presidential documents from former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence. It did so in accordance with the Presidential Records Act of 1978.  Congress passed the Presidential Records Act following President Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Before then, presidential records belonged to the president and were his to handle as he pleased. [...]
Amid tense budget negotiations, Congress will often utilize a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown.

Continuing resolution: Congress’ way of kicking the can down the road

Amid tense budget negotiations, Congress often turns to continuing resolutions to avert a government shutdown. Every year Congress is supposed to approve twelve different appropriations bills by the start of the fiscal year, October 1. But that hasn’t happened since 1997. From that time until the end of 2021, Congress turned to continuing resolutions 126 [...]
Contempt of Congress occurs when a person interferes with Congressional action. It's generally used when people don't show for Congressional hearings.

DC Dictionary: Contempt of Congress explained

The House of Representatives voted 222-208 to hold former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress. Meadows joined former White House advisor Steve Bannon, whom the House also found to be in contempt of Congress. Tonight, the House voted on a bipartisan basis to hold Mark Meadows, who has key information [...]
Trump's legal team has claimed executive privilege as the House select committee investigating the Capitol riots seeks riot-related records.

Executive privilege isn’t the same as complete immunity, expert explains

President Trump’s legal team has claimed executive privilege as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection seeks to obtain communications and other records related to that day’s events. But executive privilege isn’t a blanket term. It must be used narrowly and precisely, according to legal experts. “In modern days, executive privilege means [...]
The Senate is turning to cloture or test votes more frequently.

DC Dictionary: Cloture explained

Cloture is a process the Senate is using on a fairly frequent basis. It’s a procedural vote, or as it’s sometimes called, a test vote. It’s one of the first ways to see if a bill will live or die. Cloture is a French word meaning ‘to terminate.’ That’s how the Senate uses it, to start [...]