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How Our Laws Are Made

XVII. Enrollment

When the bill has been agreed to in identical form by both bodies­either without amendment by the Senate, or by House concurrence in the Senate amendments, or by agreement in both bodies to the conference report -- a copy of the bill is enrolled for presentation to the President.

The preparation of the enrolled bill is a painstaking and important task because it must reflect precisely the effect of all amendments, either by way of deletion, substitution, or addition, agreed to by both bodies. The enrolling clerk of the House, with respect to bills originating in the House, receives the original engrossed bill, the engrossed Senate amendments, the signed conference report, the several messages from the Senate, and a notation of the final action by the House, for the purpose of preparing the enrolled copy. From these the enrolling clerk must prepare meticulously the final form of the bill, as it was agreed to by both Houses, for presentation to the President. On occasion, as many as 500 amendments have been adopted, each of which must be set out in the enrollment exactly as agreed to, and all punctuation must be in accord with the action taken.

The enrolled bill is printed on parchment paper and certified by the Clerk of the House stating that the bill originated in the House of Representatives. A bill originating in the Senate is examined and certified by the Secretary of the Senate. A House bill is then examined for accuracy by the Committee on House Oversight. When the committee is satisfied with the accuracy of the bill, the chairman of the committee attaches a slip stating that it finds the bill truly enrolled and sends it to the Speaker of the House for signature. All bills, regardless of the body in which they originated, are signed first by the Speaker and then by the Vice President of the United States, who, under the Constitution, serves as the President of the Senate. The President pro tempore of the Senate may also sign enrolled bills. The Speaker of the House may sign enrolled bills whether or not the House is in session. The President of the Senate may sign bills only while the Senate is actually sitting but advance permission is normally granted to sign during a recess or after adjournment. If the Speaker or the President of the Senate is unable to sign the bill, it may be signed by an authorized Member of the respective House. After both signatures are affixed, a House bill is returned to the Committee on House Oversight for presentation to the President for action under the Constitution. A Senate bill is presented to the President by the Secretary of the Senate.

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