Helpful legislative definitions


It is the form used for most legislation. A bill that begins in the House is labeled “H.R.” which stands for “House of Representatives” and then is given a number that stays the same for the entire legislative process. Once an identical bill is approved by both the House and the Senate it is presented to the president for action. Note that a bill that begins in the Senate is labeled “S.” which stands for Senate. Example: S. 1 or H.R. 1.


Joint resolutions

A joint resolution can start in either the Senate or the House. There is very little difference between a joint resolution and a bill except that a joint resolution can propose an amendment to the Constitution. In that case, a joint resolution requires passage by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate, but doesn’t go to the president for signature or veto. Rather the joint resolution would then proceed to the states for ratification. A joint resolution that begins in the House is labeled “H.J. Res.” followed by its number and one that begins in the Senate is labeled “S.J. Res.” followed by its number.


Concurrent resolutions

Concurrent resolutions are those that deal with issues that affect both the House and Senate. They do not require the approval of the president and therefore do not have the force of law. Concurrent resolutions might be used for budgets or establishing a temporary joint committee. A concurrent resolution that begins in the House is labeled “H. Con. Res.” followed by its number and one that begins in the Senate is labeled "S. Con. Res." followed by its number.


Simple resolution

Simple resolutions are traditionally used only by the House. It is not presented to the president. They deal with nonbinding resolutions or internal Senate affairs. Example: S. Res. 1.



The U.S. House leadership includes the Speaker of the House, majority and minority leaders, assistant leaders, whips, and a party caucus or conference.
The Speaker acts as leader of the House and combines several institutional and administrative roles. 
Majority and minority leaders represent their respective parties on the House floor. 
Whips assist leadership in managing their party's legislative program on the House floor.
In the House, a party caucus or conference is the name given to a meeting of or the organization of all party members in the House. These meetings are designed for party members to discuss matters of concern.
The majority and minority parties meet in separate caucuses to select their leader. Members of third parties seldom have enough members to elect their own leadership. Independents will generally join one of the larger party organizations to receive committee assignments.


At the beginning of each Congress, the Senate Republican and Democratic floor leaders are elected by the members of their party in the Senate.

The majority leader represents the party who has control of the Senate. The leaders serve as spokespersons for their parties' positions on issues. The majority leader schedules the daily legislative program and fashions the unanimous consent agreements that govern the time for debate.