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Ping Pong

“Ping pong” refers to reconciling the differences between a House-passed bill and a Senate-passed bill by amendments between the chambers, rather than forming a conference committee.

The formal term is “messages between the Houses” and is much simpler than a conference.

However, a conference is a more structured way to reach an agreement and often leads to the chance of building support for the final passage of the bill.

The New Republic describes the ping pong process:

With ping-ponging, the chambers send legislation back and forth to one another until they finally have an agreed-upon version of the bill.

But even ping-ponging can take different forms and some people use the term generically to refer to any informal negotiations.

Use of “Ping Pong” in a sentence

  • When the two chambers were unable to agree on the final provisions of the energy bill, they engaged in a “ping pong” process, with the bill bouncing back and forth as they negotiated amendments without the formation of a conference committee.
  • The “ping pong” strategy is sometimes used as an alternative to a conference committee, especially when time is of the essence or when the differences between the House and Senate versions are relatively minor and can be resolved quickly.
  • Critics argue that the “ping pong” method of reconciling legislation may lack transparency and allow for last-minute changes without proper scrutiny, as the bill shuttles rapidly between the two chambers without the formalized structure of a conference committee.