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Thousands of bills and resolutions are introduced in the Senate during each Congress. When introduced, legislative measures are referred to the standing Committee of the Senate which has jurisdiction over the proposal. Similarly, after the House of Representatives passes proposed legislation that has not yet been considered in the Senate, the bill is referred to the Committee with jurisdiction once it is received by the Senate. As a result, hundreds of bills and resolutions are referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee each Congress.

The Judiciary Committee considers pending legislation during Executive Business Meetings. If a majority of the Committee votes to report a legislative measure to the full Senate for consideration, the bill is placed on the Senate's Legislative Calendar. Often times, the Committee will file a report with the legislative proposal. These reports provide additional explanations about the purpose of the bill.

Should a majority of the Senate vote to pass the legislation, the bill is then referred to the House of Representatives for consideration. If the measure originated in the House of Representatives, and is approved by the Senate without amendment, the bill is then presented to the President, who may sign the measure into law. Should the Senate and the House pass different versions of the same measure, the two Chambers appoint conferees to reconcile the differences in the proposed legislation. A majority of each Chamber must then approve the reconciled version of the legislation, called a conference report.

Legislation sent to the President for signature can meet two different fates: the President can sign the bill into law, or veto the proposed legislation. Vetoed legislation is returned to the Congress. If two-thirds of both the Senate and the House vote to override the presidential veto, the bill will become law.

Thomas, a legislative search engine maintained by the Library of Congress, provides up-to-date information about pending legislative dating back to the 93rd Congress (1973-1974).

The Congressional Research Service has produced several reports for Members of Congress about Senate and Committee Procedure:



Did You Know?  Harlan Fiske Stone was the first Supreme Court nominee to testify at a Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 1925.  John Harlan was only the fourth nominee to testify (1955).  Harlan's 1955 confirmation marked the beginning of the current practice of each Supreme Court nominee testifying before the Judiciary Committee.

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