Guide to Legislative Process in the House
VII. REPORTED BILLS
If the committee votes to report the bill favorably to the House, one of the committee staff in the name of a committee member writes the committee report. The report describes the purpose and scope of the bill and the reasons for its recommended approval. Generally, a section-by-section analysis is set forth in detail explaining precisely what each section is intended to accomplish. All changes in existing law must be indicated in the report and the text of laws being repealed must be set out. This requirement is known as the "Ramseyer rule"; a similar rule in the Senate is known as the "Cordon rule." Committee amendments also must be set out at the beginning of the report and explanations of them are included. Executive communications regarding the bill usually are quoted in full.
If at the time of approval of a bill by a committee (except the Committee on Rules) a Member of the committee gives notice of an intention to file supplemental, minority, or additional views, that Member is entitled to not less than two calendar days after the day of such notice (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, unless the House is in session on those days) in which to file those views with the clerk of the committee. Those views that are timely filed must be included in the report on the bill. Committee reports, with certain exceptions, must be filed while the House actually is sitting unless unanimous consent is obtained from the House to file at a later time, or unless the committee is awaiting additional views.
The report is assigned a report number when it is filed, and it is delivered to the Government Printing Office for printing during that night. Beginning with the 91st Congress, in 1969, the report number contains a prefix-designator which indicates the number of the Congress. For example, the first House report in 1969 was numbered 91-1.
The bill is reprinted when reported and committee amendments are indicated by showing new matter in italics and deleted matter in line-through type. The report number is printed on the bill and the calendar number is shown on both the first and back pages of the bill. However, in the case of a bill that was referred to two or more committees for consideration in sequence, the calendar number is printed only on the bill as reported by the last committee to consider it. See Part IX,"Calendars".
Committee reports are perhaps the most valuable single element of the legislative history of a law. They are used by courts, executive departments and agencies, and the public generally, as a source of information regarding the purpose and meaning of the law.
Contents of Reports | Constitutional Authority & Cost Estimates in Reports
Filing of Reports | Availability of Reports & Hearings
CONTENTS OF REPORTS
The report of a committee on a measure that has been approved by the committee must include (1) the committee's oversight findings and recommendations, (2) the statement required by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, if the measure provides new budget authority (other than continuing appropriations), certain new spending authority, new credit authority, or an increase or decrease in revenues or tax expenditures, (3) the cost estimate and comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office whenever the Director has submitted that estimate and comparison to the committee prior to the filing of the report, and (4) a summary of the oversight findings and recommendations made by the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight whenever they have been submitted to the legislative committee in a timely fashion to allow an opportunity to consider the findings and recommendations during the committee's deliberations on the measure. Each report accompanying a bill or joint resolution relating to employment or access to public services or accommodations must describe the manner in which the provisions apply to the legislative branch. Each of these items is set out separately and clearly identified in the report. For a discussion of the Congressional budget process, see Part XII.
CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY AND COST ESTIMATES IN REPORTS
In addition, each report of a committee on a bill or joint resolution of a public character reported by the committee must contain a statement citing the specific powers granted to the Congress in the Constitution to enact the law proposed by the bill or joint resolution. Committee reports that accompany bills or resolutions that contain federal unfunded mandates are also required to include an estimate prepared by the Congressional Budget Office on the cost of the mandates on state, local, and tribal governments. If an estimate is not available at the time a report is filed, committees are required to publish the estimate in the Congressional Record.
Each report also must contain an estimate, made by the committee, of the costs which would be incurred in carrying out that bill or joint resolution in the fiscal year reported and in each of the five fiscal years thereafter or for the duration of the program authorized if less than five years. In the case of a measure involving revenues, the report need contain only an estimate of the gain or loss in revenues for a one-year period. The report must include a comparison of the estimates of those costs with the estimate made by any Government agency and submitted to that committee. The Committees on Appropriations, on House Oversight, on Rules, and on Standards of Official Conduct are not required to include cost estimates in their reports. In addition, the cost estimates are not required to be included in reports when a cost estimate and comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office has been submitted prior to the filing of the report and included in the report.
FILING OF REPORTS
Measures approved by a committee must be reported promptly after approval. A majority of the Members of the committee may file a written request with the clerk of the committee for the reporting of the measure. When the request is filed, the clerk immediately must notify the Chairman of the committee of the filing of the request, and the report on the measure must be filed within seven days (excluding days on which the House is not in session) after the day on which the request is filed. This does not apply to a report of the Committee on Rules with respect to the rules, joint rules, or order of business of the House or to the reporting of a resolution of inquiry addressed to the head of an executive department.
AVAILABILITY OF REPORTS AND HEARINGS
With certain exceptions (relating to emergency situations, such as a measure declaring war or other national emergency and Government agency decisions, determinations, and actions that are effective unless disapproved or otherwise invalidated by one or both Houses of Congress), a measure or matter reported by a committee (except the Committee on Rules in the case of a resolution making in order the consideration of a bill, resolution, or other order of business) may not be considered in the House until the third calendar day (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays unless the House is in session) on which the report of that committee on that measure has been available to the Members of the House. However, it is always in order to consider a report from the Committee on Rules specifically providing for the consideration of a reported measure or matter notwithstanding this restriction. If hearings were held on a measure or matter so reported, the committee is required to make every reasonable effort to have those hearings printed and available for distribution to the Members of the House prior to the consideration of the measure in the House. Committees are also required, to the maximum extent feasible, to make their publications available in electronic form. General appropriation bills may not be considered until printed committee hearings and a committee report thereon have been available to the Members of the House for at least three calendar days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays unless the House is in session on those days).