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CRS Report Explains “Amendment Exchange” Process

Index number: R41003
Title: Amendments Between the Houses: Procedural Options and Effects
Date: January 04, 2010

As Congress hunkers down to try and resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the Health Care Reform bill, the usual process calls for a "conference committee" to be established.  But there is another, less used and less-well-known process known as "amendment exchange."  This CRS report explains how this process works and how it differs from a conference committee. 

Too main differences:  Amendment exchange happens outside the purview of the public eye and with fewer parliamentary steps to complete. 

From the report: 

In this process, each chamber acts on the legislation in turn, shuttling the measure back and forth, sometimes proposing alternatives in the form of amendments, until both chambers have agreed to the same text. The difference between a conference committee and an amendment exchange is not necessarily in the way a policy compromise is reached, but in the formal parliamentary steps taken after the principal negotiators have agreed to a compromise.