Legislative Process

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On this page are links to resources and information regarding legislation introduced and considered in Congress. An in-depth description of the legislative process within the House of Representatives is presented in How Our Laws are Made and Enactment of a Law on the Clerk of the House's website.  Abridged versions of the lawmaking process are also available for young learners, grade schoolers, middle schoolers, and high school students.

Committee Reports

The House of Representatives divides its work among twenty-one committees that have jurisdiction over specific policy areas.  Before a piece of legislation is considered by the whole House it has been reviewed by at least one of the committees. Committees write reports that outline the legislation and indicate on section-by-section basis how the proposed statute modifies existing law. 

Committee Hearings

After a bill is introduced on the House or Senate floor, it is referred to the committee of jurisdiction based on the subject matter of the bill. Committees will then refer the bill to subcommittees, which specialize their expertise even further, for study, hearings, revisions and approval.

For most bills, the committee or subcommittee fails to take further action on the referred bill.  Occasionally, a committee will report a measure "unfavorably" and recommend against its passage. Committees can also report bills "without recommendation," which has the same effect as an unfavorable report.

If the bill passes a subcommittee, it is sent back to the full committee for further consideration, hearings, amendment and vote.

Federal Laws

The U.S. Code is the official compilation of federal statutes of a general and permanent nature. The Code is arranged according to subject matter under 50 subject headings ('titles').  The Code sets out the current status of the laws, incorporating all amendments into the text. Prior to inclusion in the Code, laws are published in pamphlet form as "slip laws" which are later collected together in chronological order as the Statutes at Large.

Proceedings of the House

The Congressional Record is the official transcript of the proceedings and debates of the U.S. Congress.  A searchable version of the full text of the Congressional Record is published the day after each meeting of the House or Senate. Learn more about the Congressional Record.  A summary of current action on the Floor of the House is available as the debate occurs.  You can also view the current House Schedule.

Roll Call Votes

A roll call vote records how each Member of the House voted, but only a minority of bills receive a roll call vote.  Learn more about compiling a Member voting record and how to read the roll call information.

Rules and Precedents of the House

The House Rules and Precedents are the official documents that outline the process by which legislation is considered by the House and its committees. It also specifies the authority of the officers and committees of the House.  Several collections of material that detail the rules and precedents are available through the House Rules Committee  "Rules & Manuals" section.

Schedules of the House

Various schedules of upcoming House activities are available. House Floor Procedings are prepared by the Clerk of the House and there is a House of Representatives Schedule listed on House.gov. The Democratic Whip's office also compiles a Daily Whip, Nightly Whip and Weekly Whip as well as an annual House Calendar. The House Majority Leader's office also compiles a Daily Schedule and Weekly Schedule for the House floor, as well as regularly updated PDF versions of the annual House Calendar.

Sponsored and Co-sponsored Legislation

Before a proposed piece of legislation can be considered by the House of Representatives, it must first be sponsored by a Member of Congress (either a Member of the House or a Member of the Senate).  Members of Congress who are not the primary sponsor of a piece of legislation may express their strong support for the legislation by becoming a co-sponsor of that legislation.  Learn more about legislation that I have sponsored or co-sponsored.