Dewonkify – Markup

The Meaning:  A legislative process for considering and making any recommended adjustments to a piece of legislation prior to moving the legislation forward for a committee vote of passage or defeat.

Used in a Sentence: On December 12, 2013, the Senate Finance Committee will markup legislation that aims to provide a permanent fix to the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, and several amendments are expected to the text of the bill.

What It Means:  A markup may be the most critical part of the congressional legislative process, as it provides a true test of whether a bill can ultimately pass the House or Senate.  It is during the markup process where one can truly learn of a legislator’s position (for or against) a bill and what adjustments would be needed to ensure the support of individual committee members.  It is also where most consensus can be achieved for a piece of legislation, as it typically results in a negotiation between political parties.

During a Congressional markup, members of the Committee may ask questions to Committee staff regarding technical provisions of the pending legislation.  In addition, Members of the Committee also may offer amendments to the underlying legislation.  At the conclusion of the markup the Committee will “report out” legislation (assuming passage) and legislation is then ready to be moved to the floor of the respective Congressional chamber.

History: In many cases, when a bill comes before a committee for markup, negotiations have already occurred behind the scenes between members of Congress and interested external organizations, and the chairman of the Committee will introduce a manager’s package (an amended version of the original bill set to be marked up) or a bill in the nature of a substitute for the Committee to consider and “markup.”  When this is the situation, a markup can be brief and primarily offer an opportunity for opening statements for Committee members to be recognized and to explain their position on the legislation.

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