Term Dictionary

Common Legislative Terms

(from the Academy’s Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit)


A bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.


Formal proposal to change the language of a bill after it has been introduced.

Appropriation Bill:

Provides funding for government agencies and programs.

Authorization Bill:

Establishes or continues a Federal agency or program, establishes conditions under which the program operates and authorizes or approves funding. An authorization bill does not provide the actual funding, which is done in the appropriations bill (above).


Two chambers/houses in a legislative body (as in the House of Representatives and the Senate comprising the U.S. Congress).


A proposed law introduced during a session for consideration by the legislature and identified numerically in order of presentation. Bills that begin with “HR” originate in the House and bills that begin with “S” originate in the Senate. Ex: HR853.


Submitted to Congress by the President, usually in January for the Fiscal Year beginning the following October. These are recommendations by the President about how to fund federal spending; they do not have the force of law.

Budget Resolution:

A resolution of the House and Senate that sets spending and revenue limits for the upcoming fiscal year. It does not require presidential approval.


Representatives or Senators who formally sign on to a measure. Any member of either house may add his or her name to a bill, indicating strong support for the proposal.


Both the House and Senate have a number of standing committees with specific purview over policy issues. Each committee and every subcommittee is composed of members from both parties.

Companion Bill:

An identical bill introduced in the other house of Congress.

Conference Committee:

A committee composed of both Representatives and Senators that resolves differences between a bill that has passed both the House and Senate but with different provisions. Both House and Senate must approve the final conference committee version prior to being sent to the President for approval.


Refers to both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate; e.g., Congress meets in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Continuing Resolution:

A type of appropriations legislation that gives to or sets aside money for a specific federal government departments, agencies and programs. Unlike regular appropriations bills that are passed annually (with the funding they provide covering one fiscal year), continuing resolutions occur when Congress and the president fail to agree on and pass one or more of the regular appropriations bills. A CR continues the pre-existing appropriations at the same levels as the previous fiscal year (or with minor modifications) for a set amount of time. The CR typically provides funding at a rate or formula based on the previous year's funding.

Fiscal Year:

The 12-month period on which the budget is planned. The federal fiscal year begins October 1 and ends September 30 of the following year.


Refers to whether an amendment is relevant to the subject matter already being considered in a bill. The Rules of the House prohibit non-germane amendments while the Senate Rules generally, but not always, permit nongermane amendments.

The Floor:

Refers to the floor of the House Chamber or the Senate Chamber where representatives and senators go to vote, debate bills and make speeches. The floor has very restricted access.


A committee meeting convened for the purpose of gathering information on a specific subject or considering specific legislative measures.


Refers to the Majority Party, the political party that has the most members in the House or the Senate.


A committee meeting in which members offer amendments to a bill.


Refers to the Minority Party, the political party that has less than 50% of the membership in the House or the Senate.


An effort by Congress to reverse a Presidential veto. It requires a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and the Senate.


A simple majority of the members of a full committee or the full House or Senate. A quorum is needed to begin conducting official business.


The interpretation and implementation of laws. Regulations are written by the departments and agencies that implement the laws in order to clarify the legislation and put it into practice. Exactly how legislation plays out in practice is determined by the regulations that accompany it.


Each two-year Congress is broken down into two sessions, the 1st Session is held in odd-numbered years and the 2nd Session is held during even-numbered years.


The legislator who introduced a piece of legislation and advocates its passage.


The act of the President disapproving a measure. The President’s veto may be overturned if 2/3rds of both the House and Senate vote to override the veto.

Federal Agency Acronyms

AHRQ- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (part of HHS)

AoA- Administration on Aging

ATTTB- Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (part of US Department of Treasury)

CBO- Congressional Budget Office

CDC- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (part of HHS)

CFSAN- Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (part of FDA)

CMS- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (part of HHS)

CNPP- Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (part of USDA)

CR- Continuing Resolution (mechanism for temporarily funding government)

EPA- Environmental Protection Agency

ERS- Economic Research Service (part of USDA)

FAO- Food and Agricultural Organization (part of the United Nations)

FDA- Food and Drug Administration

FEC- Federal Election Commission

FNB- Food and Nutrition Board (part of IOM)

FNS- Food and Nutrition Service (part of USDA)

FSIS- Food Safety and Inspection Service (part of USDA)

GAO- Government Accountability Office

HAB- HIV/AIDS Bureau (in HRSA)

HELP- Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

HHS- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

HRSA- Health Resources and Services Administration (part of HHS)

IHS- Indian Health Service (part of HHS)

IOM- Institute of Medicine (part of NAS)

MCHB- Maternal and Child Health Bureau (in HRSA)

NAS- National Academy of Sciences

NCHS- National Center for Health Statistics (part of CDC)

NIH- National Institutes of Health (part of HHS)

OMB- Office of Management and Budget (part of the White House)

PHS- Public Health Service

USDA- United States Department of Agriculture

USPTF- United States Preventive Services Task Force (part of AHRQ)

WHO- World Health Organization (part of the United Nations)

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Acronyms

Academy- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

ANDPAC- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Political Action Committee

AP- Affiliate President

BOD- Board of Directors

CPC- Consumer Protection and Licensure Coordinator

DPG- Dietetic Practice Group

EAL- Evidence Analysis Library

FNCE®- Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo®

HOD- House of Delegates

LPPC- Legislative and Public Policy Committee

MNT- Medical Nutrition Therapy

NSC- Nutrition Services Coverage

PAL- Policy and Advocacy Leader

PIA- Policy Initiatives and Advocacy

PPC- Public Policy Coordinator

PPP- Public Policy Panel

PPW- Public Policy Workshop

RR- Reimbursement Representative

SPR- State Policy Representative

SRS- State Reimbursement Representative