Kill Bill: Bills not enacted after passage by Congress

Mogy asks:

Instead of just giving a number, let me break down the state of every bill proposed in Congress in 2009. As you may know, Congress operates on two-year cycles and bills don’t carry oveer from cycle to cycle. 2009 was the first year in the “111th Congress” cycle.

Enacted Laws: 123 bills have been enacted in this cycle by being passed by both houses of Congress and then being signed by the president. (This includes some joint resolutions but I’m just calling them bills on this count.)

Passed Both Chambers: 21 bills have passed both chambers but haven’t become law. There are a few reasons this can happen. In some cases, the House and Senate have passed different versions of the same bill and need to confer to produce a single final bill. In a handful of over cases, the House and Senate adjourned shortly after passing the bill, and so they have not gotten around to formally sending the bill to the President. Finally, we have the bill, , which President Obama pocket-vetoed. It was his first veto, but it was also .

Passed One Chamber: 318 bills have passed either the House or Senate but not the other, and so are waiting for the second house of Congress to pick it up.

Failed: One legislative item, , failed on its vote on passage in its originating chamber. This is relatively unusual because leadership avoids votes on bills they believe will not pass.

Failed Suspension Vote: 4 bills were voted on and failed in the House under what’s called “suspension of the rules” which is a technical term for when they try to move noncontroversial legislation forward under a two-thirds vote. Bills that fail this way can be tried again under a simple majority vote later on.

Introduced: 6,585 bills have been introduced and are awaiting a committee recommendation before being considered by the House or Senate as a whole.



  1. Was 6,000+ bills/resolutions introduced in just one year – 2009? I really want to know.

    If so, no wonder the Congressmen didn’t have time to look after our best interest.

    Awaiting your answer.



  2. you bring up a really good point here. if your going to pass a bill and then make it into a law, why wouldn’t you make sure it gets inforced? everyother law does. so if your not going to bakc it fully why even pass it to begin with?


  3. Its amazing to see how many bills were actually passed and turned into laws in 2009. Whats more astonishing is the overall number of bills and resolutions that were just introduced and waiting for committee recommendation.


  4. Will the bills introduced in this Congress die at the end of 2011 if they aren’t passed? And have to be reintroduced in 2012?


    1. It’s actually on a two-year cycle (like the elections), so this Congress ends at the end of 2012 (actually the first few days of 2013). Bills that aren’t passed by the end of 2012 die and would have to be reintroduced in 2013.


  5. I, personally, think there needs to be a “suspension” of ALL Law making for however long it takes to AUDIT ALL of our CURRENT LAWS and Govt Agencies! ENOUGH ALREADY! WHY do we need MORE Laws? Don’t we have enough for crying out loud? Part of Congress’s responsibility is to OVERSEE the laws and regulations we currently have. REPEAL any Laws that are STUPID or just out of date and CLEAN UP all these Agencies. DAMN!


  6. what makes me angry is the ones they pass without reading aka healthcare and others. most of them are lawyers, what is the first rule of any legal document? READ AND UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU SIGN YOUR NAME TO!!!! we should hold them legally accountable for signing and voting for laws on our behalf they they havent even so much as read.


  7. As for ‘why pass a bill and not enforce it’… there are many bills which pass that are clearly unconstitutional. There is no penalty whatsoever for passing an unconstitutional law. But when they are tried to be enforced, they will just get destroyed in the courts. For instance, they have passed multiple Internet censorship laws (the worst being the Communications Decency Act) but every single one was destroyed in the courts (the CDA was a rare 9-0 vote by the SCOTUS with a scathing opinion written warning Congress not to try such crap again (which they proceeded to do immediately)). Why pass such things? Because then they can tell constituents they are active in that area. They can tell people they are doing all they can to censor the Internet.

    By the way, this comment would have been illegal under the CDA because I said “crap.” It was THAT overbroad. They actually had to edit the WhiteHouse.Gov website at the time because it said “This is the dining room where the Clinton and Gore couples eat.” And the word “couples” is considered legally indecent. (Indecent is legally defined as anything which could even POTENTIALLY be considered offensive to anyone anywhere.)


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