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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Bills and Resolutions

2007 August 17 - Key Votes

Bills and Resolutions

In Congress, legislation can be introduced in one of four forms. These forms are the bill, the simple resolution, the joint resolution, and the concurrent resolution. But how are we to know what the differences are between these forms and how each is unique?! Never fear, Informed Voter. Project Vote Smart is here to assist you.

Let's start with a bill. Bills are the most common type of legislation. Bills that originate in the House have a prefix of "HR" and then a number, for instance HR 4250. The HR stands for House of Representatives (not House Resolution as some may assume). A bill that originates in the Senate has a prefix of "S" and a number, for instance S 2352. Bills, when enacted, become laws.

Another form of Congressional legislation is the joint resolution. The name here is a little misleading. Joint resolutions are not introduced and considered in the two chambers of Congress simultaneously. A joint resolution may be introduced in the House or in the Senate, and must first pass that chamber before it is considered in the other chamber, just like a bill. Joint resolutions also carry the weight of law when enacted. In many ways, the joint resolution form of legislation and the bill form are interchangeable. The prefix for a joint resolution introduced in the House is H J Res, for example H J Res 52. The prefix for a joint resolution introduced in the Senate is S J Res, for example S J Res ...

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