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Enactment of a Law

Committee Rules

Rule XXVI on committee procedure provides that each committee shall adopt rules (not inconsistent with the Standing Rules of the Senate) governing the procedure of such committee. It provides also that the rules of each committee shall be published in the Congressional Record not later than March 1 of each year, except that if any such committee is established on or after February 1 of a year, the rules of that committee during the year of establishment shall be published in the Record within 60 days. An amendment to a committee's rules shall be published in the Record not later than 30 days after the adoption of the amendment.

Committees as a rule have regular meeting days, but they may meet at the call of their chairmen or upon the request of a majority at other times. At these meetings matters on the committee calendar are usually the order of business, but any matter within the committee's jurisdiction may be considered--for example, an investigation of an agency of the Government over which the committee has jurisdiction, or a hearing at which an official discusses policies and operations of his agency.

Once a bill has been introduced and has been referred by the Presiding Officer with the advice of the Parliamentarian, the clerk of the committee enters it upon the committee's Calendar of Business. Any committee may refer its pending bills to its subcommittees for study and reports thereon. Most of the committees have standing subcommittees, and frequently ad hoc subcommittees are appointed to study and report on particular pieces of legislation or to make a study of a certain subject.

Committees or subcommittees generally hold hearings on all major or controversial legislation before drafting the proposal into a final form for reporting to the Senate. The length of hearings and the number of witnesses testifying vary, depending upon the time available, the number of witnesses wanting to be heard, the desires of the committee to hear witnesses, etc. Recommendations of the Administration, in conjunction with the Office of Management and Budget, are sought by the committees on nearly all major legislation, but they are in no way obligated to accept such recommendations.

For example, the Department of Agriculture's Office of Governmental and Public Affairs, providing liaison between the department and the Congress, would be addressed on a bill relating to inspection of livestock, meat, and agricultural products, and the Office of Congressional Affairs of the General Services Administration would be asked to comment on proposed legislation affecting small business, disadvantaged business, and related subcontracting programs. The responses are often used in support of or against matters pending before the Senate by being quoted on the floor or being inserted in the Record by Senators during debate.

A subcommittee makes reports to its full committee, and the latter may adopt such reports without change, amend them in any way it desires, reject them, or adopt an entirely different report.

At a committee's "mark up" session, usually held just prior to reporting a bill or resolution back to the full Senate, the committee makes its final decisions about the content and form of the measure. The full committee then may report it to the Senate favorably with or without amendments, submit an adverse report thereon, or vote not to report on anything.

The measure can be reported with committee amendments which may (a) insert, (b) strike, (c) strike part of the bill and insert other language, or (d) strike the entire text and insert a complete substitute, thereby rejecting in toto the language of the measure as it was referred to, considered by, and reported by the Senate committee. The desired changes in the measure are indicated in the reprinted measure by use of italic type for additions and line-type for strike-outs, in contrast to the original introduced form of the measure which is printed in roman type.

Included may be additions, corrections, or modifications to the preamble of a resolution--the part(s) of a measure prefaced by the word "Whereas," which precedes the resolving clause. These are voted on after passage or adoption of the measure. Such clauses, which are introductory statements declaring the reasons for and the intent of the legislation, if amended, would reflect changes or modifications contained in the text of the measure. Also, the title may be amended.

Committees need not act on all bills referred to them. Under the Senate's rules, a Senator may enter a motion to discharge a committee from the further consideration of any bill, but this is rarely done. By unanimous consent, some bills are discharged from one committee and sent to another. If a motion to discharge is agreed to, the bill is thereby taken out of the jurisdiction of that committee and placed on the Senate Calendar of Business. It may subsequently be referred to another committee.

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