The following information is the methodology used for the findings of BPC’s Healthy Congress Index.
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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 This does not include amendments that fell on a point of order or that were withdrawn, tabled, rendered moot, or ruled out of order by the chair.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 Congress.gov.
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).
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:
- Fiscal Years 1996-2014: Michelle D. Christensen. The President’s Budget: Overview of Structure and Timing of Submission to Congress. Congressional Research Service. July 25, 2013.
- Fiscal Year 2015: Megan Slack. “President Obama Announces His 2015 Budget.” Obama White House Archives. March 4, 2014.
- Fiscal Year 2016: U.S. Congress. Congressional Record. 114th Cong., 1st sess., 2015. Vol. 161, H673.
- Obama Fiscal Year 2017: Barack Obama. The Budget Message of the President. Obama White House Archives. February 9, 2016.
- Trump Fiscal Year 2017: America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2018. Office of Management and Budget. March 16, 2017.
Final Adoption of Budget Resolution
- Fiscal Years 1996-2016: Bill Heniff, Jr. Congressional Budget Resolutions: Historical Information. Congressional Research Service. November 16, 2015.
- Fiscal Year 2017: Grant Driessen and Megan S. Lynch. Budget Actions in 2017. Congressional Research Service. March 22, 2017.
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)
- Fiscal Years 1996-2016: James V. Saturno and Jessica Tollestrup. Omnibus Appropriations Acts: Overview of Recent Practices. Congressional Research Service. January 14, 2016.
- Fiscal Year 2017:
Number of Continuing Resolutions Needed to Prevent Funding Gap
- Fiscal Years 1996-2016: James V. Saturno and Jessica Tollestrup. Continuing Resolutions: Overview of Components and Recent Practices. Congressional Research Service. January 14, 2016.
- Fiscal Year 2017: “Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2017.” Congress.gov. May 10, 2017.
Days Spent in Gov’t Shutdown/With Funding Gap
- Jessica Tollestrup. Federal Funding Gaps: A Brief Overview. Congressional Research Service. October 11, 2013.
- Clinton T. Brass, Ida A. Brudnick, Matthew E. Glassman, Natalie Keegan, Barry J. McMillion, John W. Rollins, and Brian T. Yeh. Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects. Congressional Research Service. May 5, 2017.
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.
2019: 1st Quarter Data
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