Types of Legislation
Related Topics:
The Legislative Process: How a Bill Becomes Law
The Legislative Process: Background Information
Congressional Session Dates

Bill or Measure

General legislation is designated by "H.R." in the House of Representatives and "S." in the Senate. Public bills deal with general matters and, if signed, become public laws. Private bills deal with individual matters, such as a person's claim against the government, and become private laws if signed.

Joint Resolution

This is a resolution of both Chambers, generally used for limited matters, such as commemorative holidays. Designated as H.J.Res. in the House and S.J.Res. in the Senate, joint resolutions are signed by the President and have the force of law.

Joint resolutions also are used to propose an amendment to the Constitution. In this case, they must be agreed to by a two-thirds majority in each Chamber and by three-fourths of the states. The President does NOT sign this type of joint resolution.

Concurrent Resolution

This is a resolution dealing with internal matters of both Chambers, designated as H.Con.Res. in the House and S.Con.Res. in the Senate. A concurrent resolution must be passed by both Chambers, but is NOT signed into law by the President and does not have the force of law. The congressional budget resolution is an example of a concurrent resolution.

Resolution

Also known as a "simple resolution", this housekeeping measure is considered by and affects only one Chamber. Designated as H.Res. in the House and S.Res. in the Senate, simple resolutions are not signed by the President and do not become law. A rule for debate of a bill in the House is a simple resolution that must be approved by the House before debate can begin on the bill itself.