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Wonkology: Regular Order

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June 6, 2013

Noun - The process by which legislation typically becomes a law (think Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill”). Regular order includes a hearing and markup in the committees of jurisdiction and then passage in the House and Senate. On its way to passage, a final bill will usually take a spin through a bicameral conference committee to iron out any differences.

Wait. Doesn't This Always Happen?

No. Majority party leadership often disregards this process when it becomes politically necessary to pass legislation expeditiously or over the objections of the opposition, opting instead to “ping-pong” legislation between the bodies to work out the differences. Both parties in Congress have argued for a return to regular order in an attempt to solve the gridlock.

Why Does It Matter?

Along with the annual appropriations bills, House and Senate leadership have expressed their intent to bring up immigration reform and farm bill reauthorization through regular order in June and July. The student loan interest rate hike, with a July 1 deadline fast approaching, may be attached to the farm bill. While more tedious, regular order allows for more amendments and Member input (i.e., actual legislating).