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There are questions about what happens to a bill at the end of a Congress (of which we currently are on the 116th Congress) such as if a bill dies can it be reintroduced. I am curious about what happens next to these bills.

Bills of course can be reintroduced in a new Congress either by the primary sponsor or by someone who takes up the cause. The approach used to reintroduce a bill is different for each sponsor. There are some notable examples of sponsors making sure they get exactly the same number such as HR-25 which since 2003 has been "The Fair Tax Act of {Insert Year Here}".

My question is are there any resources to readily identify which bills have been reintroduced from a previous Congress? The above example makes the process easy, but of course bill numbers can and do change from Congress to Congress and so this is not the way to find them.

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My question is are there any resources to readily identify which bills have been reintroduced from a previous Congress?

Not that I could find, after reviewing the Advanced Searches and Query Builder options. And, trying a number of different options.


To try (or to understand) this for yourself:

Go to the Congressional Record and select Advanced Searches (at the top).

Notice that Advanced Searches has a large number of options; however, there is no check box or push button" for "Reintroduced ...". Nor does there appear to be any way to compare fields between Congresses.

I had this idea that, if one could download the fields for the Congress number, bill number, and short title, it would be possible to massage the data locally to determine if a bill was reintroduced. This is where I used Query Builder.

At the top left of the Advanced Searches page, there is a selection for Query Builder.

On Query Builder, one can get a finer selection; such as, "Short Title" for "All Congresses" where the short title contains * (asterisk meaning any value). This returns 141,332 results. Effectively, every public bill introduced in the House and Senate since 1973.

On the result page (left, above the results), there is a selection to "Download Results".

A pop-up appears: Results will be downloaded as a CSV file, up to the first 1000 results.

Without using multiple downloads (or some possible other resources to download — there is an API) and locally processing the data, there appears to be no way to "identify", let alone "readily identify" reintroduced bills from the available data.

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  • Thanks for the analysis. Still a fascinating problem. Here is my coding approach in absence of readily available resources. First of all, I only consider 116th congress bills and ask how many times has each bill been introduced. Then I try 3 different matches with previous congresses: bills that have the same number, bills that have the sponsor and bills that have the same district (House) or state (Senate). I then try to compare text and title and try to assess from that if the bills are the same piece of legislation submitted in different congresses. Not optimal, certainly. – demongolem Aug 11 at 12:03

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