Understanding Congress Part 4 of 7: Types of Bills
Part 1 of 7: Congress Overview
Part 2 of 7: Making sense of Congressional Terminology
Part 3 of 7: How are laws are made
Part 4 of 7: Types of Bills
Part 5 of 7: Communicating with Congress
Part 6 of 7: How Votetocracy can help Americans
Part 7 of 7: The Influence Landscape
Congress makes laws and does other business through five types of legislative documents.
Bills - House Resolutions (HR) and Senate Resolutions (S)
Any bill or resolution considered by Congress can be called a bill but there are five forms of them and each is unique. The most frequently used vehicle in the House of Representatives begins with ‘HR’ followed by the bill number and eventually the bill title when established. HR stands for House of Representatives. If a bill is preceded by S it is a Senate bill.
HR and S bills become law if approved by the House and Senate and signed by the President.
Joint Resolutions - H.J.Res. or S.J.Res
Joint resolutions carry H.J.Res. or S...J.Res. before the bill number. HJR is a House resolution SJR of the Senate. Both bodies must agree (Joint) to the resolution for it to move forward.
Joint Resolutions follow the same path to becoming law as any HR or S bill. If, however, the resolution proposes an amendment to the Constitution two thirds of each body must approve it and it is sent to the States, not the President, for approval.
Concurrent Resolutions - H.Con.Res. or S.Con.Res.
Concurrent resolutions are identified as H.Con.Res. in the House and S.Con.Res. in the Senate. The vehicle is used regarding the operations of the House and Senate and to deliver Congress’ view of a matter such as condemning a foreign government, supporting a foreign government, or similar positions it might take on domestic events. They do not have to pass both bodies to be validated.
Concurrent Resolutions are not signed by the President. They do not become law.
Simple Resolutions - H.Res and S.Res
These vehicles, like the concurrent resolutions, do not become law and concern themselves with the operations of the House or Senate. Such resolutions begin with H. Res. in the House and S. Res. in the Senate. Recognition resolutions, those bills that tout an accomplishment or commemorate an individual or event typically use this vehicle. Also in this form you will finds bills for private relief. Simple resolutions are also the form used for rules governing debate of other bills. The rules are produced by the House or Senate Rules Committees.
Private bills - HR and S
Private bills are bills and begin with HR in the House and S in the Senate. Whatever relief the bill offers is offered to an individual or small group. Private bills are infrequent. Over the past 5 years the occasional private bill aided someone having immigration complications.