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Healthy Congress Index: Methodology

The following information is the methodology used for the findings of BPC’s Healthy Congress Index.

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Working Days

The number of days on which each chamber meets for at least one continuous hour in Washington, D.C., and when there are floor proceedings (recorded votes, voice votes, unanimous consent agreements, or consideration of bills or amendments) based on review of the Daily Digests of the Congressional Record.

Bills Ordered Reported by Committee

The number of public bills ordered reported by committees in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. “Public bills” are defined as including Senate bills (“S.”), Senate joint resolutions (“S.J.Res.”), House bills (“H.R.”), and House joint resolutions (“H.J.Res.”). This data is gathered from the monthly Resumes of Congressional Activity for each Congress included in the index.

Filibuster and Cloture on Legislation

Cloture is a procedural action taken to end debate on any debatable matter the Senate is considering. Under almost all circumstances, a three-fifths vote of all senators is required to invoke cloture and thereby bring debate to a close. This is the procedure used to end a filibuster in the Senate. The Healthy Congress Index tracks the number of (1) votes on legislative cloture motions, (2) votes to invoke legislative cloture motions, and (3) failed votes on legislative cloture motions, according to lists kept by the U.S. Senate. The index does not include cloture on nominations.

Senate Amendments Considered

The number of amendments considered on the floor of the Senate that are subject to a recorded vote, voice vote, or a unanimous consent agreement. This does not include amendments that fell on a point of order or that were withdrawn, tabled, rendered moot, or ruled out of order by the chair. This data is gathered from searches of

House Floor Amendment Process Rules

The number of special rules providing for the initial consideration of amendment of bills, joint resolutions, and significant concurrent resolutions (e.g., budget, war-related). Categorized under open, structured, and closed rules according to data prepared by Don Wolfensberger, resident scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, from the House Committee on Rules website.

An “open rule” is one that permits any member to offer an amendment that is germane. The index also considers open rules to include those that require the pre-printing of amendments in the Congressional Record, that set an overall time-cap on the amendment process, or both. A “structured rule” is one that limits the amendments that can be offered to those specified in the special rule and/or report on the rule as well as rules that allowed just one amendment. A “closed rule” is one that permits the offering of no amendments except those recommended by the reporting committee(s).

Conference Committees

The number of conference reports adopted by both chambers. Data is gathered from the most recent or final Congressional Calendars of the House of Representatives and the Senate (under “Bills in Conference” and “Bills Through Conference”).

Budget and Appropriations Timeline

President’s Submission of Budget:

Final Adoption of Budget Resolution

Regular Appropriations Bills Enacted by Start of Fiscal Year, Appropriations Bills Ultimately Enacted As Stand Alone Measures, & Appropriations Bills Ultimately Enacted As Part of Omnibus Measure(s)

Number of Continuing Resolutions Needed to Prevent Funding Gap

Days Spent in Gov’t Shutdown/With Funding Gap

Appropriations with Expired Authorizations

Total funds appropriated for a fiscal year for which the programmatic authorization for appropriations were expired as a percent of total discretionary federal outlays. Data is gathered from (1) annual Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports to Congress on programs funded for the current fiscal year whose authorizations of appropriations have expired and on programs whose authorizations of appropriations will expire during the current fiscal year as required by 202(e)(3) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, and (2) total discretionary outlays found in “Historical Budget Data” from CBO’s The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017 to 2027.

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2015: 1st Quarter Data2nd Quarter Data3rd Quarter Data4th Quarter Data

2016: 1st Quarter Data – 2nd Quarter Data  3rd Quarter Data – 4th Quarter Data

2017: 1st Quarter Data2nd Quarter Data3rd Quarter Data – 4th Quarter Data 

2018: 1st Quarter Data2nd Quarter Data3rd Quarter Data – 4th Quarter Data 

2019: 1st Quarter Data 

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