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Federal Congressional Procedure & Legislative History : Bills

A guide to researching the procedure of the United State Congress and the legislative history of federal laws.


A bill is a legislative proposal brought before Congress in either the House or the Senate. Bills are assigned separate sequential numbers within each chamber (e.g., H.R. 99-1, S. 99-1).

Each time a bill goes through a stage in the legislative process, a new version is created.  Possible bill versions include:

-  Introduced bill print
-  Reported version in first chamber
-  Engrossed version after passage in first chamber - official text of the bill as passed in the first chamber, reflecting any changes made by amendment
-  Act version - so called because at this stage the heading is changed from "A BILL" to "AN ACT" when 2nd chamber officially receives the bill from the 1st chamber
-  Reported version from second chamber
-  Engrossed version after passage in the second chamber - may be text of entire bill as passed by the 2nd chamber or only the text of the amendments adopted by it
-  Enrolled bill - bill as approved and signed by officials of both chambers is sent to the President.
-  Enacted bill - once legislation has passed both chambers in identical form, and as either been signed into law by the President, become law without his signature, or passed over his veto, then the legislation is enacted.