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A Bill by Any Other Name

You might remember hearing about an “amendment in the nature of a substitute,” sometimes referred to as a “vehicle bill,” during the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590).  An amendment in the nature of a substitute is an amendment that would strike out the entire text of a bill after the enacting clause or other measure and insert a different full text of a bill. This usually happens when a piece of legislation moves from one chamber to the other. For example, you can see that the Official Title As Introduced in the House of H.R. 3590 was

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the first-time homebuyers credit in the case of members of the Armed Forces and certain other Federal employees, and for other purposes.

However, that language was later removed from H.R. 3590 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act language inserted instead.

Another vehicle bill was in the news this summer. H.R. 1586 was introduced as the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act. However, after a different FAA bill passed, H.R. 1586 was stripped and new language was inserted funding education and Medicaid. The new bill was commonly referred to as the $29 billion state aid bill. Usually, when Acts are renamed, the short title changes. However, it seems that never happened for this Act as there are only blank lines where the title should be.

So if you’re confused about the title of a bill or finding the legislation text seems difficult, remember that it is possible what you’re looking for could be an amendment in the nature of a substitute.

5 Comments

  1. Colleen King
    October 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    This website is so helpful. Can you tell me the difference in HR 745, Panceratic Cancer bill, and the S 3320? These both seem to address the same issue. Is it because the Pancreatic Cancer figures changed in the last several years?

  2. Christine Sellers
    October 19, 2010 at 11:30 am

    The bills do appear similar, but one is the House version and one is the Senate version. You can see the text of the legislation, as well more information, on THOMAS at H.R. 745 and S. 3320. If you have further questions, please use the Ask a Law Librarian service.

  3. LeeAnn Wright
    November 5, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Thank You for this posting! I remember trying to find the education and Medicaid bill when it was signed by the President and ended up on the phone with a few offices trying to track it down 🙂 Since most Congressional legislation is referred to by the Act name, is there a tool, maybe somewhere on Thomas, that lists Act/Popular names and their corresponding bill numbers?

  4. Christine Sellers
    November 5, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    THOMAS provides a list of the Top Five Legislative items that were searched for every week from the THOMAS home page. You can also see a Top Ten list by clicking on the View Top Ten link.

  5. Andrew Weber
    November 17, 2010 at 8:57 am

    You can also subscribe to the THOMAS: Top Ten Bills by email and RSS.

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