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What is an Omnibus Bill?

2016 June 27

Have you seen a recent headline about Congress passing an omnibus bill? Curious about what this obscure sounding piece of legislation is? Below we provide a non-partisan explanation of omnibus bills: 


The omnibus bill has been increasingly employed by Congress, yet voters may find this particular type of legislation confusing, and understandably so. Similar to a standard bill, omnibus bills are formal proposals containing statutes or measures that will be considered by the legislative assembly and must be signed into law by the president.  

However, omnibus bills differ in that they contain multiple proposed statutes, appropriations  or  amendments within a single document. Essentially, omnibus bills are a consolidation of multiple bills, often times funding measures for different government agencies or departments, that will be voted on and treated as a single provision, rather than separately.

Combining bills, or packaging legislation, into omnibus bills can increase the chances of a bill's passage, as the combination of multiple measures may be easier for legislators to vote on than the measures would be on their own. Furthermore, Congress is able to expedite the legislative and budget processes by approving or blocking multiple measures at once.
A bill's title often gives a preview of its contents, and the words “consolidated” and “omnibus” are often included in the title of packaged bills and can help voters distinguish an omnibus bill from the many singular bills that Congress deliberates over each session. 

HR 3547 was titled, “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014,” which indicates that it contained multiple ...

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