[House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House]
[Chapter 6. Bills and Resolutions]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 167]]

                       CHAPTER 6 - BILLS AND RESOLUTIONS

                              HOUSE PRACTICE

              A. Generally

  Sec.  1. In General; Resolutions Distinguished
  Sec.  2. Public and Private Bills Distinguished
  Sec.  3. Form; Component Parts
  Sec.  4. Titles
  Sec.  5. Preambles

              B. Introduction and Reference

  Sec.  6. Introduction of Measures in the House; Sponsorship
  Sec.  7. Reference
  Sec.  8. Multiple Referrals; Sequential or Split Referrals
  Sec.  9. Bills Reported with Amendments
  Sec. 10. Matters Subject to Referral
  Sec. 11. Time Limitations on Referred Bills; Extensions
  Sec. 12. Referrals To or From Special and Ad Hoc Committees

              C. Private Bills

  Sec. 13. In General
  Sec. 14. What Constitutes a Private Bill
  Sec. 15. Introduction, Reference, and Consideration
  Sec. 16. -- Amendments
  Sec. 17. Uses of Private Bills
  Sec. 18. -- Claims By or Against the Government
  Sec. 19. -- Immigration and Naturalization Cases

              D. Restrictions on Certain Public Bills

  Sec. 20. Appropriations
  Sec. 21. Tax and Tariff Measures
  Sec. 22. Designation of Public Works
  Sec. 23. Prohibition on Commemorations

        Research References
          4 Hinds Sec. Sec. 3266-3297, 3364-3390

[[Page 168]]

          7 Cannon Sec. Sec. 846-871, 1027-1053
          Deschler Ch 16; Deschler Ch 24 Sec. Sec. 1-4, 9, 10
          Manual Sec. Sec. 397, 414, 478, 816-818, 822, 823, 828, 895-
            897, 1066-1068a

                               A. Generally

  Sec. 1 . In General; Resolutions Distinguished

      Bills are used for purposes of general legislation. Joint 
  resolutions are used to propose constitutional amendments and for 
  special or subordinate legislative purposes. Simple or concurrent 
  resolutions are used primarily to regulate the administrative or 
  internal business of the House, to express facts or opinions, or to 
  dispose of some other nonlegislative matter. Deschler Ch 24 Sec. 1. 
  However, unlike simple or concurrent resolutions, a joint resolution 
  is a bill so far as the rules of the House are concerned. 4 Hinds 
  Sec. 3375.
      The introduction of certain types of private bills is prohibited 
  by rule XII clause 4. See Sec. 17, infra.
      The various stages in the passage and enactment of a bill--
  reading, engrossment, and enrollment--are treated elsewhere. See 
  Reading, Passage, and Enactment; see also Consideration and Debate; 
  Voting; and Veto of Bills.

  Sec. 2 . Public and Private Bills Distinguished

      Bills and resolutions may be either public or private. A private 
  bill is a bill for the benefit of one or several specified persons or 
  entities, and a public bill relates to public matters and deals with 
  individuals by classes only. 3 Hinds Sec. 2614; 4 Hinds Sec. 3285; 7 
  Cannon Sec. 856; Deschler Ch 24 Sec. 1. Whether a law is to be 
  regarded as public or private depends on the attendant circumstances, 
  having regard to the effect rather than the form of the legislation. 
  Bollinger v. Watson, 63 S.W. 2d 642, (Ark. 1933). The distinction is 
  important, because the procedures followed in the enactment of private 
  bills are significantly different from those applicable to public 
  bills. Sec. 15, infra.
      A bill may be regarded as a public bill and referred to the House 
  or Union Calendar when reported where it:

     Contains provisions applicable to the general public, although 
         benefiting a named individual. 4 Hinds Sec. 3286.
     Relates to a nation of Indians and not to Indians as 
         individuals. 7 Cannon Sec. 870; Deschler Ch 24 Sec. 3.3.
     Indemnifies a foreign government for injury to one of its 
         nationals. 7 Cannon Sec. 865; Deschler Ch 24 Sec. 3.2.

[[Page 169]]

     Includes among provisions for the relief of private persons 
         one item to pay a claim of a foreign nation. 4 Hinds Sec. 3287.
     Grants an easement over public lands to a private company. 7 
         Cannon Sec. 864.
     Authorizes an exchange of government-owned land for privately 
         owned land. 7 Cannon Sec. 862.
     Provides for the reimbursement of ``all the depositors'' of a 
         certain bank, the depositors not being identified by name. 8 
         Cannon Sec. 2373.

  Sec. 3 . Form; Component Parts


      The form in which bills are considered in the House is governed by 
  statute and by the practices and customs of the House. Any deviation 
  from the form so prescribed may be authorized by joint resolution or 
  be waived by passage under suspension of the rules. 7 Cannon 
  Sec. 1035. Alleged errors in the drafting of a bill are to be resolved 
  by the House in its consideration of the measure and not by the 
  Speaker on a point of order. Deschler Ch 24 Sec. 2.2.
      Although there is no mandatory uniform style that is to be 
  followed in the drafting of legislative measures, general guidelines 
  are available through the Office of Legislative Counsel.
      The component parts of a bill introduced in the House include:

     A bill title (an identifying bill number is subsequently added 
     A preamble--used often in simple and concurrent resolutions, 
         less often in joint resolutions, and, in modern practice, never 
         in bills. Sec. 5, infra.
     An enacting or resolving clause, which must appear in the 
         first section of the Act. 1 USC Sec. 103.
     The text of the bill.

      On rare occasions, a bill may contain an illustration, as where it 
  shows a required warning label. 99-2, Feb. 3, 1986, p 1326. Also rare, 
  one House may pass a bill with blanks to be filled in by the other 
  House. 5 Hinds Sec. 5781. It has been held not in order for a Member 
  to distribute on the floor of the House copies of a bill marked with 
  his own interpretation of its provisions. Deschler Ch 24 Sec. 2.1.

                             Enacting Clauses

      The form prescribed by section 101 of title 1, United States Code 
  for the enacting clause of a bill is as follows:

      Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
  United States of America in Congress assembled.

[[Page 170]]

                             Resolving Clauses

      The form prescribed by section 102 of title 1, United States Code 
  for the resolving clause of a joint resolution is:

      Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 
  States of America in Congress assembled.

      If the joint resolution proposes to amend the Constitution, it is 
  customary to add to the resolving clause the words ``two-thirds of 
  both Houses concurring.'' 4 Hinds Sec. 3367.

                    Sections; Headings and Subheadings

      The United States Code requires that each section of a bill be 
  numbered and that it ``contain, as nearly as may be, a single 
  proposition of enactment.'' 1 USC Sec. 104. Section headings and 
  subheadings may be used, and in cases of ambiguity it is proper to 
  consult both a section heading and the section's content in order to 
  ascertain the clear meaning of the legislation. House v. Commissioner, 
  453 F.2d 982 (5th Cir. 1972).

                           Page and Line Numbers

      When a bill is introduced or reported, each page of the text is 
  numbered and each line in the text is given a separate number in the 
  margin so that reference may quickly be made to specific provisions of 
  the bill. However, the pagination and marginal numerals are not part 
  of the text of the bill, and after amendment they may be altered, 
  changed, or transposed by the Clerk to conform to the amended text 
  without the necessity of a House order. 5 Hinds Sec. 5781; 8 Cannon 
  Sec. 2876.

  Sec. 4 . Titles

      All bills are given a title that indicates the subject matter of 
  the bill. A title is used strictly for purposes of identification and 
  is not considered in passing on points of order relating to the 
  provisions of the bill. 7 Cannon Sec. 1489; Deschler Ch 24 Sec. 9.1.
      Under the guidelines suggested by the Office of the Legislative 
  Counsel, a title should accurately and briefly describe what a bill 
  does. For bills amending primarily a particular law, the form ``To 
  amend [citation of law] to . . .'' is used. For constitutional 
  amendments, the form ``Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of 
  the United States concerning . . .'' is used. If the bill covers 
  multiple items, the phrase ``and for other purposes'' may be used at 
  the end of the title.
      The title is retained on the bill during the various stages of 
  enactment, including engrossment and is entered on the Journal and 
  printed in the Con

[[Page 171]]

  gressional Record. Manual Sec. Sec. 431, 831. However, it is not 
  considered to be part of the enacted statute and is generally 
  published only in the Statutes at Large. Indeed, when an enacted 
  statute is codified and included in the United States Code, its title 
  may be excluded or greatly abbreviated.
      A title cannot be used to negate the obvious meaning of the 
  statute. However, a title may, as part of the legislative history, 
  assist in resolving ambiguities. 4 Hinds Sec. 3381. In such cases the 
  title of an Act may be resorted to by courts as an aid in determining 
  legislative intent. Brotherhood of R.R. Trainmen v. Baltimore and Ohio 
  Railroad Co., 331 U.S. 519 (1947). In this context, the title of a 
  bill at the time of its enactment is said to be indicative of the true 
  intention of Congress in enacting it. Corpus Juris Secundum, Statutes 
  Sec. 351.

  Sec. 5 . Preambles

      Preambles (``whereas'' clauses) often appear in concurrent or 
  simple resolutions and less often in joint resolutions. Such clauses 
  appear less often in joint resolutions (and, in modern practice, never 
  in bills) because sections containing separate statements of findings 
  serve the same purpose. 4 Hinds Sec. 3412. Preambles are sometimes 
  used to indicate the underlying reason for a measure. 4 Hinds 
  Sec. 3413.
      The House may amend or delete the preamble from a joint resolution 
  before its passage or the preamble from a concurrent or simple 
  resolution following its adoption. Manual Sec. 414. This is done 
  either by unanimous consent or pursuant to a motion to strike the 
  preamble. This cannot be done simply by moving to strike all after the 
  enacting or resolving clause because the preamble always precedes that 
  clause. Deschler Ch 24 Sec. 9.5. Preambles to simple resolutions may 
  also be disposed of pursuant to a motion to lay on the table, and the 
  adoption of such motion does not affect the status of the resolution. 
  5 Hinds Sec. 5430. The motion for the previous question may be applied 
  at once to the resolution and the preamble. Manual Sec. 1002b. Of 
  course, where no action is taken to strike the preamble, and the joint 
  resolution is passed, the preamble remains part of the joint 
  resolution. Deschler Ch 24 Sec. 9.5.

[[Page 172]]

                       B. Introduction and Reference

  Sec. 6 . Introduction of Measures in the House; Sponsorship

                           Bills and Resolutions

      Bills and resolutions are introduced by being deposited in the 
  hopper at the Clerk's desk anytime the House is in session. Deschler 
  Ch 16 Sec. 1. A Member may introduce a bill during an interim pro 
  forma meeting even though no legislative business is being conducted. 
  Manual Sec. 816.
      At its organization for the 106th Congress, the House adopted an 
  order reserving the first 10 bill numbers for assignment by the 
  Speaker during a specified period. In the 107th and 108th Congresses, 
  the House adopted the same order, but extended the applicable time 
  period to the entire first session. Manual Sec. 825.
      A bill or resolution may be introduced by any Member who has taken 
  the oath, and he need not seek recognition for that purpose. Deschler 
  Ch 16 Sec. 1. A Member may introduce a bill even though he is 
  personally opposed to its passage. Deschler Ch 16 Sec. 1.6. The rules 
  do not limit the number of bills a Member may introduce.
      Once introduced, the bill becomes the property of the House. As 
  such, the House may consider it notwithstanding the death, 
  resignation, or replacement of its sponsor. Deschler Ch 16 Sec. 1.9.

                      Bills Introduced ``By Request''

      Only a Member, Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner may 
  introduce a bill. The House does not permit the names of citizens 
  requesting the introduction of a bill to be printed in the 
  Congressional Record, but the rules do permit the words ``by request'' 
  to be entered on the Journal and printed in the Record. Manual 
  Sec. 826. These words appear following the name of the primary sponsor 
  or the names of some or all of the initial cosponsors. Deschler Ch 16 
  Sec. 1.2.

                          Petitions and Memorials

      Petitions and memorials addressed to the House are delivered to 
  the Clerk and may be presented by the Speaker as well as by any 
  Member. Manual Sec. 818; 4 Hinds Sec. 3312. A Member may present a 
  petition from the citizens of a State other than his own. 4 Hinds 
  Sec. Sec. 3315, 3316.

                 Sponsorship; Endorsements and Signatures

      By House rule, all bills, resolutions, and memorials must be 
  endorsed with the name of the Member or Members introducing them. 
  Manual Sec. Sec. 818, 825. By directive of the Speaker, all bills must 
  bear the original sig

[[Page 173]]

  nature of the chief sponsor or first-named Member. Manual Sec. 821. A 
  bill falsely introduced in a Member's name in his absence involves a 
  question of privilege, and the House may agree to an order providing 
  for its cancellation. 4 Hinds Sec. 3388.


      Unlimited cosponsorship of public bills is permitted until such 
  time as all committees authorized to report the bill have done so or 
  have been discharged from consideration thereof. Before the bill is 
  reported, a Member may remove his name as a cosponsor by unanimous 
  consent. Manual Sec. 825. Alternatively, a cosponsor may announce his 
  withdrawal of support for a bill, or a statement indicating that an 
  error was made in the listing of a cosponsor's name may be made on the 
  floor for publication in the Congressional Record. Deschler Ch 16 
  Sec. Sec. 2.5, 2.6. At its organization for the 104th Congress, the 
  House resolved that each of the first 20 bills and each of the first 
  two joint resolutions introduced in that Congress could have more than 
  one Member reflected as a first sponsor.
      By unanimous consent, a Member may add his own name as a cosponsor 
  of an unreported bill where the primary sponsor is no longer a Member 
  of the House. Similarly, a designated Member may be authorized to sign 
  and submit lists of additional cosponsors where the primary sponsor is 
  no longer a Member. However, the Chair will not otherwise entertain a 
  request to add cosponsors by a Member other than the primary sponsor. 
  In fact, the Chair will not entertain any unanimous-consent request to 
  add a cosponsor, whether such request includes only the Member making 
  the request, all Members, or a specified additional sponsor. Such 
  requests must be made by a primary sponsor through the hopper not 
  later than the last day on which any committee is authorized to 
  consider and report the measure to the House. Manual Sec. 825.

  Sec. 7 . Reference


      When a bill is introduced, it is referred by the Speaker to 
  committee in accordance with rule X clause 1, the rule fixing the 
  jurisdiction of committees over particular subjects, and in accordance 
  with the referral procedures contained in rule XII clause 2. Deschler 
  Ch 16 Sec. 3. However, a bill referred by the House itself may be sent 
  to any committee without regard to the rules of jurisdiction. 4 Hinds 
  Sec. 4375; 7 Cannon Sec. 2131. Jurisdiction in such a case is deemed 
  conferred by the action of the House. 4 Hinds Sec. Sec. 4362-4364; 7 
  Cannon Sec. 2105.

[[Page 174]]

      Absent specific authority or the authority to originate, a 
  committee may not report a measure that has not been properly referred 
  to it by the Speaker or by the House. 4 Hinds Sec. Sec. 4355-4360; 7 
  Cannon Sec. Sec. 1029, 2101. The committees authorized to file from 
  the floor as privileged, pursuant to rule XIII clause 5, certain bills 
  and resolutions originating from such committees are Appropriations, 
  Budget, House Administration, Rules, and Standards of Official 
  Conduct. Manual Sec. Sec. 412, 853.

                        Erroneously Referred Bills

      Rule XII clause 7 provides for procedures to be followed in case 
  of an error in the reference of a public bill. For a discussion of 
  erroneous referral of a private bill, see Sec. 14, infra. The House 
  rerefers public bills without debate, usually pursuant to a unanimous-
  consent request. Deschler Ch 16 Sec. Sec. 3.13- 3.15. A motion to 
  rerefer also is available. However, that motion has not been offered 
  since the 82d Congress. Manual Sec. 825; Deschler Ch 16 
  Sec. Sec. 3.10-3.13. The motion to rerefer:

     Must apply to a bill erroneously referred. 7 Cannon Sec. 2125.
     Must be made immediately following the Pledge of Allegiance. 
         Rule XII clause 7; 7 Cannon Sec. Sec. 1809, 2119, 2120.
     Must apply to a single bill and not to a class of bills. 7 
         Cannon Sec. 2125.
     May be amended. 7 Cannon Sec. 2127.
     May not be divided. 7 Cannon Sec. 2125.
     May not be debated. 7 Cannon Sec. Sec. 2126-2128.

           Bills Reported From Committee; Referrals to Calendars

      Bills reported from committees are ordinarily referred to the 
  proper calendar under the direction of the Speaker. Manual 
  Sec. Sec. 828, 831. Once a bill has been reported by committee, points 
  of order against its reference and motions for its rereferral are not 
  entertained. 7 Cannon Sec. 2110; Deschler Ch 16 Sec. 3.6. Under rule 
  XII clause 2, a bill reported from committee may be sequentially 
  referred by the Speaker to other committees (even a bill previously 
  referred to a calendar). Sec. 8, infra. Moreover, once consideration 
  of the reported measure has begun in the House, a motion to refer or 
  recommit is in order in differing situations under the rules of the 
  House. Manual Sec. Sec. 916, 917, 1001; see Refer and Recommit.

  Sec. 8 . Multiple Referrals; Sequential or Split Referrals

      Before the 94th Congress, a bill could not be divided among two or 
  more committees, even though it contained matters properly within the 
  jurisdiction of several committees. 4 Hinds Sec. 4372. However, in 
  1975 the House adopted rule XII clause 2(b), stating that every 
  referral must be made so

[[Page 175]]

  as to ensure ``to the maximum extent feasible'' that each committee 
  having jurisdiction over the subject matter of a provision will have 
  responsibility for considering it and reporting thereon to the House. 
  Rule XII clause 2(c)(1) requires the Speaker to designate a committee 
  of primary jurisdiction upon the initial referral of a measure to a 
  committee (except where he determines that extraordinary circumstances 
  justify review by more than one committee as though primary). The 
  Speaker has discretion to:

     Refer the measure to other committees either initially (at the 
         time of introduction) or sequentially (following the primary 
         committee's report); in either case, subject to time limits 
         imposed after the primary committee has reported.
     Refer designated portions of the same measure to other 
         committees (split referral).
     Refer a measure to a special ad hoc committee, established by 
         the House, consisting of members of committees with shared 
         jurisdiction over the measure.

      The Speaker's referrals are always for consideration of such 
  provisions as fall within a committee's jurisdiction, and bills 
  referred to more than one committee contain an explicit statement to 
  that effect.

  Sec. 9 . Bills Reported with Amendments

      A bill reported from a committee with an amendment may be 
  sequentially referred to another committee where the amendment falls 
  within the jurisdiction of the second committee. Manual Sec. 816. In 
  determining whether the matter falls within the jurisdiction of the 
  second committee, the Speaker may base his referral on either (1) the 
  text of an amendment as well as the text of the original bill; or (2) 
  solely on the text of a reported substitute amendment in lieu of the 
  original bill. Manual Sec. 816. The second committee may report an 
  amendment to the amendment adopted by the first committee if the 
  amendment to the amendment is within the jurisdiction of the second 
      The Speaker has exercised his authority to base referrals on 
  committee amendments to reported bills by sequentially referring:

     A reported bill to another committee solely for consideration 
         of provisions of the first committee's amendment within its 
         jurisdiction, and not for consideration of the entire bill.
     A reported bill to two other committees for different periods 
         of time, solely for consideration of designated sections of the 
         first committee's recommended amendment.
     A reported bill solely for consideration of designated 
         portions of the first committee's amendment.

[[Page 176]]

     Only a portion of the original text where the primary 
         committee's amendment would delete portions of the bill within 
         the sequential committee's jurisdiction.

  Manual Sec. 816.

  Sec. 10 . Matters Subject to Referral


      Rule XII clause 2, the rule establishing the referral procedures 
  to be followed by the Speaker, applies to ``each bill, resolution, or 
  other matter'' relating to a subject falling within the jurisdiction 
  of a standing committee under rule X clause 1. Thus, the Speaker may, 
  pursuant to the rule, refer bills and resolutions, a portion of a 
  bill, a Presidential message, an executive communication, or a select 
  committee report. Manual Sec. 816.

                     Senate Amendments to House Bills

      Pursuant to rule XIV clause 2, the Speaker may refer to a standing 
  committee a Senate amendment to a House-passed bill. Formerly, where a 
  House bill was returned from the Senate with an amendment relating to 
  a new and different subject, the Speaker referred it to the committee 
  having jurisdiction of the original bill. 4 Hinds Sec. Sec. 4373, 
  4374. Under the modern practice, the Speaker rarely exercises his 
  authority to refer Senate amendments at all. Where he does, the 
  Speaker may impose a time limitation for consideration of a certain 
  portion of the amendment. Manual Sec. 816. On being reported from a 
  standing committee, the House bill with the Senate amendment is 
  referred to the Committee of the Whole. 4 Hinds Sec. 3108; 8 Cannon 
  Sec. 3187. Under rule XXII clause 2, House bills with Senate 
  amendments that do not require consideration in Committee of the Whole 
  may be at once disposed of as the House may determine.

                         Senate Bills and Messages

      The Speaker may refer bills and joint and concurrent resolutions 
  messaged from the Senate to committees in the same manner as public 
  bills originating in the House. Rule XIV clause 2. Senate messages 
  requiring consideration in Committee of the Whole and Senate bills 
  (with certain exceptions, as where a similar House measure has been 
  reported or ordered reported) are referred to the appropriate standing 
  committees under the direction of the Speaker without action by the 
  House. 4 Hinds Sec. 3101; 6 Cannon Sec. 727. Simple resolutions of the 
  Senate that do not require any action by the House are not referred. 7 
  Cannon Sec. 1048.

[[Page 177]]

  Sec. 11 . Time Limitations on Referred Bills; Extensions


      Pursuant to rule XII clause 2, the Speaker may impose a time limit 
  for the consideration by any committee of a bill that is primarily, 
  initially, or sequentially referred. The Speaker normally places a 
  time limit on bills sequentially referred. However, the rules of the 
  House do not require him to do so. The Speaker may sequentially refer 
  a bill without setting such limit or may set a limit as short as one 
  day. Manual Sec. 816.
      On the last day of an expiring sequential referral, a committee 
  has until midnight to file its report with the Clerk. Manual Sec. 816.
      Rule XII clause 2 is not construed to prevent a secondary 
  committee from reporting before the primary committee. It is the 
  intent of the rule to allow the primary committee to report before a 
  measure is scheduled for floor consideration. However, the measure may 
  be considered without a report by the primary committee when the 
  primary committee waives its right to report and a special order is 
  adopted discharging the committee. The measure also may be considered 
  when the Speaker exercises discretion to impose a time limit on the 
  primary committee for reporting (which he rarely exercises) and such 
  committee fails to meet the deadline. In that case, the primary 
  committee will be considered to have been discharged from further 
  consideration of the measure. Manual Sec. 816.

                            Extensions of Time

      The Speaker may extend the time limit set for the consideration of 
  a referred bill, and he has exercised such authority with respect to 
  bills that have been sequentially referred, or divided for reference. 
  Where the Speaker extends the time limit on a sequentially referred 
  bill, he also may refer the bill to another committee for the same 
  period. More than one extension of time may be given by the Speaker to 
  a committee considering a bill. Manual Sec. 816.

                          Discharge of Committee

      Where a committee does not report a measure to the House on or 
  before the date specified by the Speaker pursuant to his authority 
  under rule XII clause 2, the Speaker may discharge the committee from 
  further consideration of the measure and refer it to the appropriate 
  calendar or to another committee. Also, the House may adopt a special 
  order of business accomplishing the discharge. Manual Sec. 816.

[[Page 178]]

  Sec. 12 . Referrals To or From Special and Ad Hoc Committees

      The Speaker may refer bills, resolutions, and other matters 
  (including messages and communications) to an ad hoc committee 
  established with the approval of the House. The House order 
  authorizing the ad hoc committee may require that referrals to the 
  committee be by initial or sequential reference or by some other 
  method provided by rule XII clause 2. Manual Sec. 816. For example, in 
  the 107th Congress, the Select Committee on Homeland Security was 
  required to report to the House its recommendations on a bill 
  establishing a Department of Homeland Security. In making its 
  recommendation, the select committee was required to take into 
  consideration recommendations by each committee to which such bill was 
  initially referred. 107-2, H. Res. 449, June 19, 2002, p ____. In the 
  108th Congress, the select committee was reestablished to develop 
  recommendations and report to the House by bill or otherwise on such 
  matters that relate to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 as may be 
  referred to it by the Speaker. 108-1, H. Res. 5, Jan. 7, 2003, p ____.

                             C. Private Bills

  Sec. 13 . In General


      The practice of Congress in passing private bills for the benefit 
  of specific persons or entities was taken from the English Parliament 
  and began with the First Congress. The use of private bills steadily 
  increased thereafter, so much so that in some years the Congress 
  enacted more private bills than it did public bills. The 59th 
  Congress, for example, enacted more than 6,000 private bills, while it 
  enacted fewer than 700 public bills. 7 Cannon Sec. 1028. In recent 
  years, and especially since the adoption of the Legislative 
  Reorganization Act of 1946, the number of private bills enacted into 
  law has been steadily declining. In the 104th Congress, only four 
  private bills were approved. In the 105th Congress, only 10 private 
  bills were approved. Calendars of the U.S. House of Representatives, 
  Final Edition, 104th Cong. and 105th Cong.
      Because it lacks the generality of application that is normally 
  found in public laws, a private law is considered a legislative 
  anomaly. Congressional action in passing such laws has been based on 
  the rationale that because public laws cannot cover every situation or 
  extraordinary circumstance that might arise, Congress may, as part of 
  its general law-making function, create

[[Page 179]]

  ``equitable law'' to cover such circumstance. Note, Private Bills in 
  Congress, 79 Harv. L. Rev. 1684 (1966).


      Although the constitutionality of private laws has not been 
  subjected to extensive critical analysis by the courts, their use is 
  regarded as a proper legislative function. The Supreme Court in 1940 
  held that the passage of a private law does not constitute a 
  congressional intrusion into the judicial function. Paramino Lumber 
  Company v. Marshall, 309 U.S. 370 (1940).

                               Omnibus Bills

      Rule XV clause 5 permits the use of ``omnibus'' private 
  legislation--that is, a measure containing two or more private bills 
  that are considered as a single package. Manual Sec. Sec. 895, 897.

  Sec. 14 . What Constitutes a Private Bill

      A private bill may be generally defined as a bill for the benefit 
  or relief of one or several specified persons or entities. 4 Hinds 
  Sec. 3285; 7 Cannon Sec. 856. It is generally enacted only for those 
  who have no other remedy available to them. Deschler Ch 24 Sec. 3. A 
  bill for the benefit of a named individual is classed as a private 
  bill, even though it deals with government property. 7 Cannon 
  Sec. 859. An ``omnibus claim bill,'' which contains provisions for 
  payments to many different claimants, also is treated as a private 
  bill rather than a public bill, where all claimants are of the same 
  class and each claimant is specified by name. 4 Hinds Sec. 3293.

  Sec. 15 . Introduction, Reference, and Consideration

      Private bills may be presented to the House only through a 
  sponsoring Member and may not be cosponsored. A Member with a private 
  bill to present (1) endorses his name on the bill and (2) delivers the 
  bill to the Clerk. Rule XII clause 3; Manual Sec. 818.
      Under rule XII clause 6, errors in private bills may be corrected 
  without action by the House at the suggestion of the committee in 
  possession of the bill. Because an erroneous reference of a private 
  bill does not confer jurisdiction on the committee to report it, a 
  point of order will lie against the bill when it comes up for 
  consideration in the House or in the Committee of the Whole. Manual 
  Sec. 824. A subcommittee may have specific rules governing the 
  consideration of private bills. See, e.g., ``Rules of Procedure for 
  Private Immigration Bills,'' Subcommittee on Immigration Claims, 
  Committee on the Judiciary. Committee approval of the bill is 
  generally contin

[[Page 180]]

  gent upon a showing that the applicant has no other remedy. A private 
  bill reported out of committee is referred to the Private Calendar.
      Private bills called on the Private Calendar are reviewed by a 
  committee of ``official objectors'' consisting of six members--three 
  from each party. As a matter of policy, the official objectors have 
  traditionally required that bills must be on the Private Calendar for 
  seven days before being called up. See Private Calendar. A Member 
  serving as an official objector has periodically included in the 
  Congressional Record an explanation of how bills on the Private 
  Calendar are considered. Manual Sec. 896. If two or more Members of 
  the House object to a bill, it is recommitted to the committee that 
  reported it. Manual Sec. 895. However, such a bill may be ``passed 
  over without prejudice'' by unanimous consent for subsequent 
  consideration. Also, the provisions of a private bill may be reported 
  back in an omnibus bill. See Private Calendar. In modern practice, 
  private bills have not been scheduled by the Speaker for consideration 
  under suspension of the rules. This procedure has been reserved for 
  public bills.
      If the bill is unopposed, it is taken up in the House as in the 
  Committee of the Whole. The procedure is as follows:

      Speaker: This is the day for the call of the Private Calendar. The 
    Clerk will call the first omnibus bill on the calendar. . . . The 
    Clerk will read the bill by title for amendment. [The Clerk reads 
    the bill, and any committee amendments are reported and disposed of; 
    thereafter, motions to amend are in order. See Sec. 16, infra]
      Member: Mr. Speaker, I offer a motion [to strike all or part of 
    the pending paragraph.]

      Note: Amendments are in order only if they strike or reduce 
  amounts of money or provide limitations. Manual Sec. 895. Motions to 
  strike the last word are not permitted, nor are reservations of 
  objection. See Private Calendar.

      Speaker [after disposition of amendments]: The question is on the 
    engrossment and third reading of the bill.
      Member: Mr. Speaker, I offer a motion to recommit.
      Speaker [after disposition of the motion to recommit]: The 
    question is on the passage of the omnibus bill.

      After being passed by the House, an omnibus private bill is 
  resolved into the various private bills of which it is composed, and 
  each is sent to the Senate as if individually passed. Manual Sec. 897. 
  A private bill that has passed both Houses must be approved by the 
  President or enacted over his veto to become law.

[[Page 181]]

  Sec. 16 . -- Amendments

      A private bill is subject to amendment under the five-minute rule, 
  pursuant to rule XV clause 5. Manual Sec. Sec. 895, 897. However, a 
  private bill for the benefit of one individual may not be amended so 
  as to extend its provisions to another individual, even indirectly 
  through a motion to recommit with instructions. 4 Hinds Sec. 3296. 
  Under the germaneness rule, it is not in order to amend a private bill 
  by extending its provisions to a general class of individuals, which 
  would be public in character. 4 Hinds Sec. 3292; 7 Cannon Sec. 860; 
  see Germaneness of Amendments. Motions to strike the last word--pro 
  forma amendments--are not entertained. Deschler-Brown Ch 29 Sec. 70.7.
      When an amendment is offered, members of the reporting committee 
  have priority in recognition to oppose the amendment. Deschler-Brown 
  Ch 29 Sec. 13.23.

  Sec. 17 . Uses of Private Bills


      Under the modern practice, most private bills granting relief to 
  individuals fall into one of four major categories: (1) bills 
  involving claims against the United States or waiving claims by the 
  Federal Government against specific individuals; (2) bills excepting 
  named individuals from certain requirements of the immigration or 
  naturalization laws; (3) conveyances of real property rights; and (4) 
  tariff treatment for private entries. See Sec. Sec. 18, 19, infra.
      Some private bills granting relief to identified individuals 
  merely permit the taking of some action that would otherwise be 
  prohibited by general law. For example, one favorably reported private 
  bill authorized Federal employees of the Social Security 
  Administration in Syracuse, New York, to transfer annual leave to a 
  fellow employee who had exhausted her sick leave during her treatment 
  for cancer. 100-2, H.R. 3625, H. Rept. 100-554. Another private bill 
  authorized the Secretary of Defense to allow the children of a secret 
  service agent killed while on duty to attend school at a United States 
  military facility in Puerto Rico (the family had been notified that 
  his children were no longer eligible to attend the school because the 
  children were no longer dependents of a Federal employee in Puerto 
  Rico). 100-2, H.R. 3439, H. Rept. 100-552.

                    Measures Barred From Consideration

      Under rule XII clause 4, a private bill may not be introduced or 
  considered if it authorizes or directs the payment of money for 
  property damages

[[Page 182]]

  or for personal injuries or death for which suit may be instituted 
  under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Private pension bills (other 
  than those to carry out a provision of law or treaty stipulation) are 
  also barred, as are bills providing for the construction of a bridge 
  across a navigable stream. Private bills providing for the correction 
  of a military record are likewise proscribed. However, a private bill 
  that merely changes the computation of retired pay for a former member 
  of the armed services has been held permissible. Manual Sec. 822. The 
  barring of private bills in such cases is based on the availability to 
  claimants of other judicial or administrative remedies. Deschler Ch 24 
  Sec. 3. The FTCA, for example, provides both administrative and 
  judicial remedies in certain personal injury cases involving the 
  negligence of Federal employees. 28 USC Sec. 2671.

  Sec. 18 . -- Claims By or Against the Government

                       Generally; Constitutionality

      Many private bills grant relief to an individual who has a 
  meritorious claim against the Federal government that cannot otherwise 
  be remedied. Deschler Ch 24 Sec. 3. The constitutional basis for such 
  bills is found in the first amendment, which sets forth the right to 
  petition the government for the redress of grievances, and in article 
  I, which allocates to Congress the power to pay the debts of the 
  United States. U.S. Const. art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 1; Pope v. United 
  States, 323 U.S. 1 (1944).


      Under rule XII clause 2(d), unanimous consent is required for the 
  reference of a private claim bill to a committee other than the 
  Committee on the Judiciary or the Committee on International 
  Relations. Manual Sec. 817. Most private bills involving claims 
  against the government are referred to the Judiciary Committee, which 
  has jurisdiction over such claims under rule X clause 1(k). For 
  example, a private bill providing to a named individual an entitlement 
  to social security benefits was referred as a private claim only to 
  the Committee on the Judiciary (in accord with rule XII clause 2(d)) 
  and, when reported by that committee, was referred to the Private 
  Calendar and not sequentially to the Committee on Ways and Means. 106-
  2, Feb. 14, 2000, p ____.
      The Committee on the Judiciary refers a private claim bill to its 
  Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims. The subcommittee may hold a 
  hearing on the matter. The full-committee files its report with the 
  House, and the Speaker refers it to the Private Calendar. See also 
  Sec. 15, supra.

[[Page 183]]

      Note: An alternative to this procedure is provided for in law. It 
  authorizes either House of Congress, by adopting a resolution, to 
  refer bills (except pension bills) to the Chief Judge of the U.S. 
  Court of Federal Claims, and stipulates that the Chief Judge is to 
  report the findings of fact and conclusions in each case to the House 
  that made the reference. 28 USC Sec. Sec. 1492, 2509. These reports 
  are provided to Congress for use in deciding whether certain private 
  claims warrant legislative relief. Zadeh v. United States, 111 F. 
  Supp. 248 (Ct. Cl. 1953).

            Granting Relief; Consideration of Particular Claims

      In exercising its jurisdiction over claims against the government, 
  and in determining whether relief should be granted to persons seeking 
  redress of grievances under its rules, the subcommittee has been 
  guided by ``principles of equity and justice.'' The task of the 
  subcommittee has been to determine whether the equities and 
  circumstances of a case create a ``moral obligation'' on the part of 
  the government to extend relief to an individual who has no other 
  existing remedy. Relief has been granted in private legislation:

     To provide for the payment to settle certain property damage 
         claims of residents arising out of the 1973 occupation of 
         Wounded Knee, South Dakota. 100-2, H.R. 2711, H. Rept. 100-559.
     To provide for a payment to a child who had been sexually 
         assaulted by an employee of the Postal Service, who was 
         delivering mail at the time. A civil action against the United 
         States on behalf of the six-year-old claimant was filed under 
         the FTCA on the basis of negligent supervision of the employee 
         by the Postal Service, but this suit was unsuccessful, 
         intentional torts such as assault being excluded under the 
         provisions of the Act. 100-2, H.R. 4099, H. Rept. 100-556.
     To authorize certain firefighters to sue the United States for 
         injuries or death under the FTCA because the Secretary of Labor 
         had determined that the firefighters were Federal employees 
         covered by another statute--the Federal Employee Compensation 
         Act--which precluded claims under the FTCA. 100-2, H.R. 2682, 
         H. Rept. 100-547.
     To waive the discretionary-function and foreign-country 
         exceptions to the FTCA, thereby granting jurisdiction for the 
         claimant to sue the government for claims arising at a U.S. 
         Army health facility in Germany for improperly administered 
         smallpox vaccination. 100-2, H.R. 2684, H. Rept. 100-442.
     To provide compensatory relief in a contract case based on a 
         moral obligation of the government, such as when money was 
         promised and not paid. 87-1, Priv. L. No. 87-195, H. Rept. 87-
         232; 100-2, H.R. 3185, H. Rept. 100-549.
     To adjust or credit the account of a Federal official or to 
         reimburse a government employee for expenditures made by him at 
         the direction of his employer. 7 Cannon Sec. 863; 100-2, H.R. 
         3388, H. Rept. 100-551.

[[Page 184]]

     To permit claimants to receive an annuity under the Civil 
         Service Retirement system. 100-2, H.R. 2889, H. Rept. 100-548; 
         100-2, H.R. 1864, H. Rept. 100-546.
     To relieve a Federal employee of liability for repayment of 
         travel expenses erroneously paid to him by his employer. 100-2, 
         H.R. 3941, H. Rept. 100-555; 100-2, H.R. 3347, H. Rept. 100-
     To suspend or waive a statute of limitations where the 
         government has been unjustly enriched at the expense of the 
         claimant (87-1, Priv. L. No. 87-23, H. Rept. 87-176), or where 
         to do so would be in the interests of ``justice and equity'' 
         (100-1, H.R. 1491, H. Rept. 100-439).
     To provide payment to an individual injured by a government-
         prescribed fire. 104-2, S. 966, H. Rept. 104-638.
     To provide reimbursement to an entity for emergency work under 
         the Robert T. Stafford Disaster and Emergency Assistance Act. 
         104-1, H.R. 419, H. Rept. 104-359.

  Sec. 19 . -- Immigration and Naturalization Cases

      Private bills are sometimes used to exempt individuals from the 
  application of the immigration and naturalization laws in hardship 
  cases where the law would otherwise prohibit entry into or require 
  deportation from the United States. Deschler Ch 24 Sec. 3.
      Private bills have been used in specific cases to:

     Restore a prospective immigrant to his place on a quota 
         waiting list when that place was lost without his fault. 83-2, 
         Priv. L. No. 601, H. Rept. 83-2078.
     Grant asylum to a Communist aviator who flew his plane to the 
         West. 83-2, Priv. L. No. 380, H. Rept. 83-650.
     Grant the status of permanent residence to a 23-year-old 
         Philippino woman who became pregnant while visiting the United 
         States under a temporary visa, where the father had acquired 
         permanent-residency status, and where the alternative would 
         have been to separate the family, with the mother and infant 
         returning to the Philippines and the father remaining here. 
         100-1, S. 393, H. Rept. 100-354.
     Reinstate U.S. citizenship to a 65-year-old native U.S. 
         citizen who renounced citizenship in 1950 due to family 
         obligations when he was married to a Mexican national. 100-1, 
         H.R. 2358, H. Rept. 100-381.
     Enable a record-holding swimmer from East Germany who had 
         defected to the United States to file a petition for 
         naturalization, without regard to residence or Communist Party 
         membership. 100-2, H.R. 446, H. Rept. 100-598.
     Grant the status of permanent residence to a sports and media 
         figure retroactively to 1950 and provide that he shall be 
         considered to have complied with residential and physical 
         presence requirements of the Immigration and Naturalization 
         Act. 86-2, Priv. L. No. 86-486, H. Rept. 1506.

[[Page 185]]

     To permit certain individuals who were evacuated from Kuwait 
         during the Persian Gulf War to file for permanent resident 
         status. 106-2, H.R. 3646, H. Rept. 106-580.

                  D. Restrictions on Certain Public Bills

  Sec. 20 . Appropriations

                    Appropriations on Legislative Bills

      Restrictions against the inclusion of appropriations in 
  legislative bills are provided for by rule XXI clause 4. A bill or 
  joint resolution carrying appropriations may not be reported by a 
  committee not having jurisdiction to report appropriations; and points 
  of order lie against those provisions when the bill is read for 
  amendment. The rule also prohibits amendments proposing appropriations 
  on a reported legislative bill. Manual Sec. 1065; see also 
  Appropriations, Sec. 76.

                   Transportation Obligation Limitations

      Section 8101(e) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st 
  Century (Pub. L. No. 105-178) added rule XXI clause 3, which precludes 
  consideration of a measure that would cause obligation limitations to 
  be below the level for any fiscal year set forth in section 8103 of 
  the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, as adjusted, for 
  the highway category or the mass transit category, as applicable. 
  Manual Sec. 1064; see also Appropriations, Sec. 59a.

                       Funding for Aviation Programs

      Section 206 of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform 
  Act for the 21st Century (Pub. L. No. 106-181) added a provision 
  establishing points of order to guarantee a certain level of budget 
  resources available from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund each fiscal 
  year through fiscal year 2003, to restrict the uses of those 
  resources, and to guarantee a certain level of appropriations. Manual 
  Sec. 1064a; see also Appropriations, Sec. 59a.

  Sec. 21 . Tax and Tariff Measures

      Under rule XXI clause 5(a), a bill or joint resolution carrying a 
  tax or tariff measure may not be reported by a committee other than 
  the Committee on Ways and Means; and points of order lie against those 
  provisions when the bill is read for amendment. The prohibition 
  extends to consideration of an amendment in the House or proposed by 
  the Senate that carries a tax or tariff measure offered during the 
  consideration of such bill or joint

[[Page 186]]

  resolution. For a discussion of the restrictions against bills and 
  amendments carrying a tax or tariff, see Manual Sec. 1066.
      Rule XXI clause 5(c) precludes consideration of a bill, joint 
  resolution, amendment, or conference report that carries a retroactive 
  Federal income tax rate increase. The rule defines a ``Federal income 
  tax rate increase'' as any amendment to subsection (a), (b), (c), (d), 
  or (e) of section 1, or to section 11(b) or 55(b), of the Internal 
  Revenue Code of 1986, that imposes a new percentage as a rate of tax 
  and thereby increases the amount of tax imposed by any such section. 
  The rule further specifies that a Federal income tax rate increase is 
  retroactive if it applies to a period beginning before the enactment 
  of the provision. Manual Sec. 1068.

  Sec. 22 . Designation of Public Works

      Rule XXI clause 6 precludes consideration of a bill, joint 
  resolution, amendment, or conference report that provides for the 
  designation or redesignation of a public work in honor of an 
  individual then serving as a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, 
  or Senator. Manual Sec. 1068a.

  Sec. 23 . Prohibition on Commemorations

      Rule XII clause 5 precludes introduction and consideration of a 
  bill or resolution, or an amendment thereto, if it establishes or 
  expresses a commemoration. The term ``commemoration'' is defined by 
  the rule as a remembrance, celebration, or recognition for any purpose 
  through the designation of a specified period of time. Manual 
  Sec. 823. The House by unanimous consent waived the prohibition in 
  rule XII clause 5(a) for a joint resolution to amend title 36, United 
  States Code, to designate September 11 as United We Stand Remembrance 
  Day. 107-1, Oct. 24, 2001, p ____.