Bills / Measure / Passed (CongressionalGlossary.com)

From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms

Bills / Measure / Passed

A bill is the most commonly used form for legislation. A bill is prefixed with an H.R. in the House and with an S. in the Senate. A number assigned at the time of introduction signifies the order in which a bill was introduced during a Congress. A bill becomes law only if it is passed with identical language by both houses and signed by the president or passed over his veto. Under certain circumstances, a bill can become law without the president’s signature. The bill form is used for authorization or reauthorization of federal policies, programs, and activities, among its many lawmaking purposes.

The vast majority of legislative proposals are in the form of bills. Bills deal with domestic and foreign issues and programs, and they also appropriate money to various government agencies and programs.

Bills and joint resolutions are “passed” when a simple majority of the members in the House or Senate vote in the affirmative for the bill or joint resolution.

Public bills pertain to matters that affect the general public or classes of citizens, while private bills affect just certain individuals and organizations.

A private bill provides benefits to specified individuals (including corporate bodies).

When bills are passed in identical form by both Chambers of Congress and signed by the president (or repassed by Congress over a presidential veto), they become laws.

Measure: Term embracing bill, resolution and other matters on which the Senate takes action. Every measure introduced in Congress has a two-year life cycle. Legislation to be enacted into law must pass in identical form both the House and Senate and be signed by the president. Some measures must be introduced in several Congresses before sufficient political support is generated for them to be enacted into law.

See also Concurrent Resolution; Joint Resolution; Private Calendar / Private Bill; Terms and Sessions of Congress; § 6.10 Types of Measures, § 6.290 Presidential Action on Enacted Measures, § 7.83 Sequence of Appropriations Measures through Congress, in Congressional Deskbook.

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