|Stage 4: The Committee Votes to Report the Bill|
When a full committee orders a bill reported, a few steps must be taken that will result in another version of the bill, as well as a committee report, being printed. One step is the writing of the report, which can take weeks or even months, and the filing of the report with the clerk of the full Chamber (House or Senate). Until it is officially filed, neither the bill text nor the committee report can be printed by the GPO but will be available on LexisNexis® Congressional as they are released by the GPO.
Tip: Not every bill ordered reported makes it to this stage. If the report isn't written and filed, the bill dies just as if it had not been ordered reported at all.
A reported bill generally is printed only after all the committees to which it was referred have ordered it reported. Reported bills printed by the GPO will be available at the same time on LexisNexis Congressional. The printed version may contain text that has been struck through, indicating language that has been removed by the committee. If the bill has been reported by more than one committee, the printed version can have both stricken text as well as text in different type fonts, to differentiate between each committee's amendments. Online services have adopted assorted conventions to represent the various type fonts or stricken text of a printed bill. In LexisNexis Congressional, additions to bill text are shown by an asterisk (*) at the beginning and end of each line; deletions of text are noted by squared brackets [ ] at the beginning and end of each line.
Tip: If the bill has been referred to more than one committee, they all go through the same process, with each committee issuing its own report. However, the various committee versions are bundled into only one bill print.
The report is printed within a few days of being filed, and is available on LexisNexis Congressional as soon as it is printed. A report can contain a discussion of the committee's recommendations, a history of legislative actions on the bill up to the time it was reported, and minority or dissenting views on the reported bill from committee members.
It can also contain bill language in two forms: text of the bill as amended and reported (appears at the beginning of the report), and text of the law as it would appear if the bill is enacted as reported (appears at the end of the printed report). This can be confusing when the report is viewed in electronic format. If you see bill language in a report online, be sure you know where you are in the report so you know which type of text you are viewing.
Once the report has been filed, the bill is available for consideration by the full Chamber. The majority party leadership decides when, or even if, to bring it before the full Chamber for debate, based on their political agenda and estimates about the bill's likely success. They are not required to schedule debate on any bill that has been reported.