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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Lawmakers' Legislative Lingo

2007 July 26 - Key Votes

We try to make our website a wonderful and extensive place for citizens to find out what's happening in their governments. Here in the Key Votes Department we summarize and post votes that take place on pieces of legislation that may interest a citizen. We want this to be as handy a tool as possible. The process of legislating is easy to learn, but some terms that you see floating around our summaries may not be familiar to someone who is not particularly well versed in the legislative process. For instance, what is a substitute bill and where does it come from? What is the difference between a bill passing the U.S. Senate unanimously and passing by unanimous consent? What is that emergency clause thing hanging on the end of this bill in my state legislature? What is a voice vote? Here at Project Vote Smart we have all of those answers and more.

What is a Cloture Vote?

You may be familiar with the Senate's attempts at passing immigration bills earlier this summer. You may have read in the press that these bills were voted down and killed. This is not quite accurate. These bills failed cloture votes. In the United States Senate, some votes are on motions to invoke cloture on a bill. Invoking cloture is a way to limit debate on the bill. There is no limit on how long a bill can be debated, so if a bill seems to be getting debated forever or getting filibustered (filibustering ...

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