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U.S. Congress - Resources at duPont-Ball Library: Legislation Basics

Types of Legislation

Definitions of Types of Legislation

 

Bills 

H.R.

House Bill

S.

Senate Bill

 

A bill is a legislative proposal before Congress. Bills from each house are assigned a number in the order in which they are introduced, starting at the beginning of each Congress (first and second sessions). Public bills pertain to matters that affect the general public or classes of citizens, while private bills pertain to individual matters that affect individuals and organizations, such as claims against the Government.

 

Joint Resolutions 

H.J. Res.

House Joint Resolution

S.J. Res.

Senate Joint Resolution

 

A joint resolution is a legislative proposal that requires the approval of both houses and the signature of the President, just as a bill does. Resolutions from each house are assigned a number in the order in which they are introduced, starting at the beginning of each Congress (first and second sessions). There is no real difference between a bill and a joint resolution. Joint resolutions generally are used for limited matters, such as a single appropriation for a specific purpose. They are also used to propose amendments to the Constitution. A joint resolution has the force of law, if approved. Joint resolutions become a part of the Constitution when three-quarters of the states have ratified them; they do not require the President's signature.

 

Concurrent Resolutions 

H. Con. Res.

House Concurrent Resolution

S. Con. Res.

Senate Concurrent Resolution

 

A concurrent resolution is a legislative proposal that requires the approval of both houses but does not require the signature of the President and does not have the force of law. Concurrent resolutions generally are used to make or amend rules that apply to both houses. They are also used to express the sentiments of both of the houses. For example, a concurrent resolution is used to set the time of Congress' adjournment. It may also be used by Congress to convey congratulations to another country on the anniversary of its independence.

 

Simple Resolutions 

H. Res.

House Simple Resolution

S. Res.

Senate Simple Resolution

 

A simple resolution is a legislative proposal that addresses matters entirely within the prerogative of one house or the other. It requires neither the approval of the other house nor the signature of the President, and it does not have the force of law. Most simple resolutions concern the rules of one house. They are also used to express the sentiments of a single house. For example, a simple resolution may offer condolences to the family of a deceased member of Congress, or it may give "advice" on foreign policy or other executive business.

From: http://www.gpo.gov/help/index.html#about_congressional_bills.htm

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