What Was That? An Abridged dictionary of Political Lingo

Washington politicos have their own vernacular, most words relating to Capitol Hill business. Here are choice examples and their definitions, for you to recognize while you're in town, and to bandy about in conversation when you return home.

  • Boondoggle: Also known as a junket: a trip by congressional members and/or staff in which leisure is more of a focus than business.
  • Call up a Bill: To raise up a bill on the floor for immediate consideration.
  • Caucus: An informal group of members sharing an interest in the same policy issues.
  • Filibuster: A tactic used to extend the debate on a proposal in order to block its vote in Congress.
  • Gerrymander: To manipulate the geographic shape of a congressional district for political purposes.
  • Log Rolling: The process in which two dissimilar interests join to help pass pieces of legislation that, on their own, neither interest could pass.
  • Mark-up: The meeting of a congressional committee to review and amend the text of a bill before sending the bill for review by the full House or Senate.
  • PAC: The name for special interest groups that are legally permitted to give money to candidates running for political office.
  • Platform: A formal, written statement of the principles, objectives, and policies of a political party.
  • Whip: As a verb, whip means to gather votes. As a noun, whip refers to the officers, one Republican and one Democrat in the House, and one Republican and one Democrat in the Senate, responsible for counting potential votes and for promoting party unity in voting. The political party in the majority determines whether the whip is the Majority Whip or the Minority Whip in the House and Senate.

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