In this answer, I linked to a bill that was listed as dead in a Committee.

Another user asked what happened to the bill, why did it die and who supported/opposed it (votes or otherwise):

Where can I find the voting result or more about debate on this bill?

How can the answer to this question be discovered?

I'd prefer a generic answer applicable to any bill, but an example of how to find out for this specific bill is sufficient.

Here's the bill: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr6438

H.R. 6438 (112th): Member Pay Reduction and Responsibility Act of 2012

Introduced: Sep 19, 2012 (112th Congress, 2011–2013)
Sponsor:    Rep. Charles Bass [R-NH2]
Status:     Died (Referred to Committee) 
35 cosponsors (31 Republicans, 4 Democrats) 

1 Answer 1


When a bill dies in committee, it does so because there is nothing that pushes it to the floor. This can happen for several reasons; the reason will dictate what more information is available.

  1. It could be voted down by the committee.

    If this is the case, the "Progress" indicator will indicate that a vote was taken in committee, but that it failed. In rare cases, the whole Congress can take up the bill, if a majority of the chamber decides to bring it up, but this is uncommon, because the entire point of committees is to reduce the workload of the entire committee.

  2. More often than not, if a bill dies in committee, it is because the committee itself takes no action.

    This could happen because:

    1. a member put a "hold" on a vote - For example, nominations can be blocked with a secret hold. Holds are secret things, by design, that allow members to prevent publicity about their votes. Newspapers will sometimes report the fact that holds have been placed. A hold was originally a very informal thing - the member desiring the hold simply tells the chair, the whip, or the leader that he wants a hold. Beginning in 2011, however, the rules changed, and holds are now published in the Congressional Record. The Congressional Record itself is just a journal, meaning you would need to look chronologically through it to locate the action.

    2. The bill itself never came up because there was no time to bring it up. The calendar is one of the most powerful tools that the whip and the leader have - and it is surprising how little action is actually taken on most bills. Thousands of bills will be submitted in a term - very few will be acted upon. In many ways, the Congress is like the Supreme Court, which may receive 10,000 case requests, but only a few hundred will even be heard.

    If this is the case (and it is a very common case), the progress indicator will just say "died in committee," because the Speaker, Whips, and Leaders are under no compulsion to explain the prioritization of each bill. One's best bet would be to contact the leader and ask why there was no action action taken. In all likelihood, you'll get a form letter back saying that it is of vital importance to the leader but that other legislation simply took priority, but that's probably the best you are going to get.


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