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Enactment of a Law

Messages and Amendments Between the Houses

| Senate Action on House Amendments | Bills Originating in the House |

Senate Action on House Amendments

Senate bills returned with House amendments are held at the desk and almost always are subsequently laid before the Senate by the Presiding Officer upon request or motion of a Senator (usually the Majority Leader or the manager of the bill). The Presiding Officer may also do this upon his own initiative, but this is rarely done. After the House message has been laid down, the House's amendments may be considered individually or, by unanimous consent, en bloc. Any one off the following motions relating to the amendment or amendments may then be offered, taking precedence in the order named : (1) a motion to refer the amendments to a standing committee of the Senate, (2) a motion to amend the amendments; (3) a motion to agree to the amendments; and (4) a motion to disagree to the amendments and ask a conference with the House. Usually number (4) includes authority for the Presiding Officer to appoint conferees on the part of the Senate, although the power to name conferees is in the Senate, not in the Chair. The number of conferees named varies widely. The usual range is 7 to 11, but occasionally a larger number is appointed, especially in the case of general appropriation bills or omnibus bills such as reconcilation measures.

In the case of motion number (2), the amendments made by the Senate to the House amendments are transmitted to the House, with a request for its concurrence therein. If the House concurs or agrees in all the amendments (the words being used synonymously), the legislative steps in the passage of the bill are completed. The House, however, may amend the Senate amendments to the House amendments, this being the second, and therefore the last, degree in which amendments between the Houses may be made. The House amendments, if any, are transmitted to the Senate, usually with a request for concurrence therein. As in the case of the original House amendments, the Senate may agree to some, disagree to others, or ask for a conference with the House thereon.

A conference may be requested at any stage of the consideration of these amendments between the houses. If, instead, the Senate agrees to all the House amendments to the Senate bill or to the Senate's amendments to House amendments, such action brings the two Houses into complete agreement, and likewise completes the legislative steps.

If the Senate refers the House amendments to a standing committee, the committee, after consideration, may recommend action indicated in motions (2), (3), or (4), and may make such a motion accordingly on the Senate floor.

Bills Originating in the House

If a bill or resolution originates in the House, it follows the same steps as set forth above, except in reverse, i.e., a House committee considers it first; it is passed by the House; it is messaged to the Senate and referred to a Senate committee; the committee reports it to the Senate and it is then acted on by that body. If amended, it is returned to the House for its concurrence in the Senate amendments.

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