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The mark-up is the committee meeting held to review the text of a bill before reporting it to the floor.

The mark-up process plays a crucial role in the creation of laws.

Origin of “Mark-Up”

The term comes from the action of marking the draft bill with changes or corrections in preparation for its potential passage into law.

It is during this stage that the proposed legislation is examined in detail, and changes are made to refine, clarify, or modify its provisions.

These changes can range from minor edits and wording adjustments to major revisions or complete rewrites of sections of the bill.

The mark-up session typically begins after the initial hearings on the bill, where the committee members, experts, and the public have had an opportunity to provide testimony and input.

The committee chair usually guides the mark-up process, and it is during these sessions that members of the committee propose, debate, and vote on amendments to the bill.

These amendments can significantly impact the final version of the legislation.

In some cases, the committee might decide to start from a “clean bill,” which is a new version of the bill that incorporates all the changes made during the hearings.

In other instances, they may work on an “amendment in the nature of a substitute,” which is a complete bill that is offered as a substitute for the original bill.

It’s worth noting that the mark-up process is typically a very public part of the legislative process, often occurring in open sessions where the public and press can observe.

This transparency is designed to ensure accountability in how legislation is crafted.

There is room for political maneuvering during the mark-up meeting, as quoted by one lobbyist familiar with the process: “Committee’s often abruptly cancel congressional mark ups, such as in this case and instead schedule hearings in an attempt to regain support for a bill.”

However, the rules governing the mark-up process can vary between the House and the Senate, and even among different committees.

For example, some committees may require a certain number of members (a quorum) to be present before they can proceed with the mark-up, while others might allow mark-up to proceed with any number of members present.

Once the mark-up process is complete, the committee votes on the final version of the bill.

If the bill is approved, it is reported out of the committee and sent to the floor of the House or Senate for further debate and voting.

Use of “Mark-Up” in a sentence

  • The House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a mark-up session to revise the proposed clean energy bill, introducing several amendments to strengthen its impact.
  • During the mark-up process of the healthcare reform bill, bipartisan collaboration resulted in significant changes to the original draft, demonstrating the importance of this legislative stage.
  • The bill underwent a thorough mark-up in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where a number of controversial provisions were debated and subsequently modified to garner broader support.