House Committee Markups: A Primer

Members of the House of Representatives introduce thousands of bills each congress, the vast majority of which receive no action after being dropped in the hopper on the House floor and referred to the relevant congressional committee(s). Committee chairs choose a relatively small portion of referred bills for potential advancement, scheduling them for markup meetings to solicit proposed changes by committee members.

Markups give committee members their most substantial opportunity to amend a draft bill on its way to the full House. The committee marks up the original draft language—though, somewhat confusingly, congressional committees never actually make changes to draft legislation, which only the full House can do. Instead, committee members vote on bill language and amendments that they recommend should be taken up by the full chamber. The questions during markup, then, are whether or not to report or recommend proposed amendments or changes.

Given the smaller membership of committees, markups are generally less formal than amending activity on the House floor. The rules of the House provide latitude for each committee to adopt its own rules about how to conduct its markup proceedings, so long as its activity does not directly contradict House rules, such as the requirement that proposed amendments be germane to the underlying legislation. With that said, committee markups typically adhere to a regular process. A step-by-step overview of that process is available here.