Introduction of Legislation

A Member of Congress can submit a bill for introduction at any time during a Chamber's daily session. The Chamber's Bill Clerk assigns the legislation a bill number, and the leadership, influenced by the majority party's political agenda, decides whether to:

Tip: Holding a bill "at the desk" or ordering it "placed on the calendar" keeps it available for consideration by either the full House or Senate at any time. Both actions are good indications that the leadership expects to bring the bill up for debate quickly. Placing the bill on the calendar makes it slightly more available, since only a simple legislative motion is required to take a bill from the desk.

Each day's Congressional Record, published the day after the session, includes a sequential list of bills introduced in each Chamber that day, including information about their disposition. The Record may also contain introductory statements by the bills' sponsors explaining their proposals and, sometimes, including the legislative language. Further explanation of the bill may also be found in a "Dear Colleague" letter.

Tip: It takes the Government Printing Office (GPO) several days to print the official copy of the bill text. The bill print includes the bill number, the sponsor and cosponsors, committee referral, and the text of the proposed legislation. Since all online services use the tapes produced by the GPO when it prints a bill, the official text will not be online until the GPO bill print is available.

Tip: To locate the text of a recently introduced but not yet printed bill, be sure to check for any statements by the bill's sponsor or cosponsors in the Congressional Record. The Record does not generally include the text of every bill introduced, but it often contains text for Senate bills (as part of the sponsor's introductory statement), and occasionally includes the text of House bills. Even if the Record does not contain the bill text, it might have a section-by-section analysis of the bill as part of the sponsor's or cosponsor's statement.

If the leadership elects to refer the newly introduced bill to a committee or committees for consideration, it does so with the advice of the parliamentarian. The final decision to send to a specific committee is based both on the laws the bill would create or amend and on the jurisdictions of the committees, which are set by the Chamber's rules.