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The Hill 101

  • The Hill 101: What is the Congressional Review Act?

    The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is a legislative Loch Ness monster, much discussed and rarely seen (though the same could be said for motions to “Vacate the Chair” and Discharge Petitions, both of which were employed during the 114th Congress.) The CRA gives Congress sixty “session days” to overturn a rule issued by the Executive branch….

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  • What happens to bills after Congress adjourns? (Updated)

    Not all bills get reintroduced. Some bills that were sponsored by Members who are not returning are essentially orphans, waiting for someone to take them up and commit to introducing them. In some cases, sponsors who know they are not returning will hand over a bill to a colleague to champion and sponsor in future sessions.

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  • The Hill 101

    What’s an “Omnibus” bill?

    The end-of-year "Omnibus" Spending Bill is by now a Congressional holiday tradition — as is the "will they or won't they?" nail-biter finish that comes within hours of a stated deadline and sometimes pushes through multiple short-term extensions…and delayed holiday plans. Technically, the Omnibus is one big bill that "carries" lots of smaller bills. And…

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  • Talking to Your Reps in the District

    It's almost July 4th and Members of Congress are in their states and districts. Over the next few days, they will attend events, give a few speeches, and talk with constituents before heading back to Washington on July 9 for what may be a flurry of activity leading into the August recess. While town hall…

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  • Conference Committees

    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.

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  • What is “suspension of the rules”

    The House of Representatives frequently considers non-controversial bills under “suspension of the rules,” in an expedited process. These “suspension bills” require a two-thirds majority vote to pass, get 40 minutes of debate, and no amendments are allowed (except for technical corrections).

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  • Considering a bill “under a rule”

    For major legislation in the House of Representatives, the House Rules Committee establishes a “rule” or “special rule” that lays out the procedure for consideration of the bill.
    The rule typically serves several purposes, as outlined by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service:

    It makes the measure “privileged” so it can be considered ahead of other business
    It sets the length of time and leaders for debate
    It may waive points of order that can be made against the bill
    It sets the parameters for amendments that can be offered. Under an “open rule”, any amendments that meet normal House requirements can be considered; under…

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