In this particular case, I am interested in bill S.1838 in the 116th Congress. There is an amendment to this bill called S.Amdt.1246 to S.1838. However, I can't find any information about what changed.

Purpose: S.Amdt. 1246 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)

In the nature of a substitute.

Ok, but what was substituted?

Amendment Text: S.Amdt.1246 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)

There are 2 versions of the amendment:

I can click between the alternate versions, but short of manually comparing every document listed as part of the bill, how can I see what is different between the two versions? I'm a programmer, so I'm looking for something like a Git history with a list of additions and deletions.

  • Normally I'd go to GovTrack for something like this, but they don't seem to track individual amendments.
    – Bobson
    Nov 21, 2019 at 21:39

1 Answer 1


How can one view the changes made by amendments to bills in Congress?

The text of amendments is located in the Congressional Record in the specific, House or Senate, section (toward the end). Some amendments will consist of specific editing requirements such as strike and replace. At other times the amendment will require substitution.

For the immediate problem of substitution, ideally, one would obtain the text from two identically formatted sources. Unfortunately, in this case, two such sources are not available.

I used Notepad++ with the Compare plug-in to find the differences. For S.1838, I used the TXT format of the bill, as proposed, in one window and text from the Congressional record for S.Amdt. 1246 in the second window. I manually edited both to remove extraneous text beginning and end, before doing the comparison.

Due to formatting differences, primarily, indentation and line breaks, the result is very messy; but the side-by-side comparison provides a sense of where changes were made. Removing the indentation did not help much. [I used a regular expression ^[ ]* to find, with no replacement.]

However, there were places where the comparison was problematic, in that, it did show text deleted from the bill and text added to the amendment that appears to be the same. In one case, it appears that text was simply moved from one section to another nearby.

Or, find someone who has both the tools and the time to create matching formats to identify the specific differences. These are the changes SA 1246 made to S 1838 expressed as they might be given to an editor.

In 7(a)(1) strike out ", based on credible information,".

In 7(a)(1)(A) strike out "torture, or forced confession" replace with "or torture".

In 7(a)(2)(B) strike out "credible".

In 7(a)(3)(B) strike out "credible".

Delete 7(b)(2)(C).

After 7(e) insert
"(f) Exceptions.-
(1) Exception for intelligence activities.-Sanctions under this section shall not apply to any activity subject to the reporting requirements under title V of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3091 et seq.) or any authorized intelligence activities of the United States.
(2) Exception to comply with international obligations and for law enforcement activities.-Sanctions under subsection (c)(2) shall not apply with respect to an alien if admitting or paroling the alien into the United States is necessary-
(A) to permit the United States to comply with the Agreement regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, signed at Lake Success June 26, 1947, and entered into force November 21, 1947, between the United Nations and the United States, or other applicable international obligations; or
(B) to carry out or assist law enforcement activity in the United States."

Renumber existing 7(f) to 7(f)(3).

Renumber existing 7(f)(1) to 7(f)(3)(A).

Renumber existing 7(f)(2) to 7(f)(3)(B), strike out "subsection" replace with "paragraph".

In 7(g)(1) strike out "credible".

After 7(g) insert
"(h) Sunset.-This section, and any sanctions imposed under this section, shall terminate on the date that is 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act."

Renumber exiting 7(h) to 7(i).

Delete 8(b).

Renumber 8(c) to 8(b).

  • I believe that compare tool has an 'Ignore Spaces' option. You might also try the regex ^\s+ , but usefulness of either will depend on the data. Nov 25, 2019 at 17:26

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