House and Senate measures may have numerous sponsors in addition to the member who proposes the legislation. It is common in both chambers for the key proponent of a measure (the sponsor) to send a Dear Colleague letter (in print or electronically) to other members requesting their support for the legislation by cosponsoring its introduction. An original cosponsor signs on and is listed on the legislation when it is introduced. Cosponsors can be added throughout the legislative process until a measure is reported from a committee, or, in the Senate, at any time by unanimous consent. Names of cosponsors added after introduction appear in the Congressional Record, and in subsequent printings of a measure. A member can be removed as a cosponsor only by unanimous consent on the House or Senate floor.
An unlimited number of members may cosponsor a bill.
Democrat Laments Abortion Bill Co-Sponsoring Debacle
Also see: Congressional Record; Dear Colleague letter; Sponsor; Unanimous Consent; § 6.20 Drafting and Introducing Legislation, in Congressional Deskbook; § 4.18 Bill Introduction, in Lobbying and Advocacy; Legislative Drafter’s Deskbook.
- “Sponsorship and Cosponsorship of House Bills,” CRS Report RS22477 (8-page PDF)
- “Sponsorship and Cosponsorship of Senate Bills,” CRS Report 98-279 (6-page PDF)
- “Introducing a House Bill or Resolution,” CRS Report 98-458 (6-page PDF)
- “Introducing a Senate Bill or Resolution,” CRS Report 98-459 (5-page PDF)
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