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Q&A: What’s next for the Tax Bill?

 

At 1:36 AM on Saturday, December 2, the Senate passed H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by a vote of 51-49.

With this vote, the tax bill is at about the halfway mark to becoming law. Here's what's ahead:

The House and Senate must go to conference and produce a joint conference report.

Conference committees are set up when the House and Senate have passed two different versions of a bill. Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution requires that both chambers pass the exact same language before a bill can be presented for the President’s signature and become law.

How does a Conference work?

  • The House and Senate appointed conferees to negotiate the combined version (a conference report.)
  • A majority of House conferees and a majority of Senate conferees must sign the conference report.

How does Congress vote on conference reports?

  • Both the House and Senate must vote on the same version of the conference report.
  • According to chamber rules, the Conference report must be publicly available before a vote — 48 hours in the Senate, 3 days in the House.
  • In the Senate, filibuster rules apply (so 60 votes are needed to “end debate” and proceed to a vote.)
  • In the House, the conference report gets one hour of debate, and then a vote.
  • Conference reports can’t be amended and get an “up or down vote.”

(As with everything in Congress, there are exceptions. For more information, see “Conference Committee and Related Procedures: An Introduction” from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.)

What's next?

House votes December 4 on a motion to go to conference and appointing Republican conferees. They will also vote on Democratic-sponsored "Motion to Instruct Conferees."

Senate will vote on similar motions in coming days.

Tell Congress what you think:

See what other sare saying and write a message to your lawmakers on H.R. 1 with POPVOX.