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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

General Debate in Committee of the Whole

Judy Schneider
Specialist on the Congress

The House considers most important bills (and resolutions) on the floor by resolving into the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union. This is a committee on which all Representatives serve and which meets on the House floor. The House acts on a measure by resolving into Committee of the Whole (as it usually is called) first to debate the bill as a whole and subsequently to debate and vote on any amendments to the bill. At the end of this process, the Committee “rises” and reports the bill back to the House with whatever amendments the Committee of the Whole has approved. Then the House votes on these amendments and on final passage of the bill. The process of considering a bill in Committee of the Whole has two distinct stages: first, a period for general debate; and second, a process of debating and voting on amendments to the bill. What follows in this report focuses exclusively on the general debate phase; other reports discuss the amendment process in Committee of the Whole. For more information on legislative process, see

General debate is a period of time set aside for debating the merits of the bill as a whole, the state of current law on the subject of the bill, the need for new legislation, the various provisions of the bill, and possible amendments to it. This is a time for debate only. No amendments to the bill are in order, nor can Members offer any other motions that can affect the content of the bill or its fate.

Date of Report: May 14, 2013
Number of Pages: 5
Order Number: RS20200
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