Joint resolution
In the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, a joint resolution is a legislative measure that requires approval by the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 and the House
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 and is presented to the President for his/her approval or disapproval, in exactly the same case as a bill
Bill (proposed law)
A bill is a proposed law under consideration by a legislature. A bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature and, in most cases, approved by the executive. Once a bill has been enacted into law, it is called an act or a statute....


Generally, there is no legal difference between a joint resolution
Resolution (law)
A resolution is a written motion adopted by a deliberative body. The substance of the resolution can be anything that can normally be proposed as a motion. For long or important motions, though, it is often better to have them written out so that discussion is easier or so that it can be...

 and a bill. Both must be passed, in exactly the same form, by both chambers of Congress, and then must -- with one exception -- be presented to the President and signed by him/her (or, re-passed in override of a presidential veto
A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

; or, remain unsigned for ten days while Congress is in session) to become a law. Laws enacted by virtue of a joint resolution are not distinguished from laws enacted by a bill. Constitutional amendments are passed by joint resolutions, which are not presented to the President. Instead, they are sent to the states for ratification pursuant to Article Five of the U.S. Constitution
Article Five of the United States Constitution
Article Five of the United States Constitution describes the process whereby the Constitution may be altered. Altering the Constitution consists of proposing an amendment and subsequent ratification....


While either a bill or joint resolution can be used to create a law, they are used differently in current usage. Bills are generally used to add, repeal, or amend laws codified in the United States Code
United States Code
The Code of Laws of the United States of America is a compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal laws of the United States...

, and twelve annual appropriations laws. Joint resolutions are generally used for, among other things, the following:
  • To authorize small appropriations;
  • For continuing resolution
    Continuing resolution
    A continuing resolution is a type of appropriations legislation used by the United States Congress to fund government agencies if a formal appropriations bill has not been signed into law by the end of the Congressional fiscal year...

    s, which extend appropriation levels adopted in a prior fiscal year, when one or more of the twelve annual appropriations acts have been temporarily delayed from becoming law on time;
  • To create temporary commissions or other ad hoc
    Ad hoc
    Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning "for this". It generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes. Compare A priori....

     bodies (e.g., the 9/11 Commission
    9/11 Commission
    The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission, was set up on November 27, 2002, "to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 attacks", including preparedness for and the immediate response to...

  • To create temporary exceptions to existing law, such as joint resolutions providing a day other than January 6 for counting electoral votes or providing for a Saxbe fix
    Saxbe fix
    The Saxbe fix, or salary rollback, is a mechanism by which the President of the United States, in appointing a current or former member of the United States Congress whose elected term has not yet expired, can avoid the restriction of the United States Constitution's Ineligibility Clause...

     reducing the pay of an office so that a member of Congress may avoid the Ineligibility Clause
    Ineligibility Clause
    The Ineligibility Clause, one of the two clauses often called the Emoluments Clause, and sometimes also referred to as the Incompatibility Clause or the Sinecure Clause, is found in Article 1, Section 6, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution...

  • To declare war.
  • To take permanent possession of other territories/nations, more easily than the formal and somewhat slower method of passing a treaty of annexation, (e.g., Texas
    Texas Annexation
    In 1845, United States of America annexed the Republic of Texas and admitted it to the Union as the 28th state. The U.S. thus inherited Texas's border dispute with Mexico; this quickly led to the Mexican-American War, during which the U.S. captured additional territory , extending the nation's...

     and Hawaii
    Newlands Resolution
    The Newlands Resolution, was a joint resolution written by and named after United States Congressman Francis G. Newlands. It was an Act of Congress to annex the Republic of Hawaii and create the Territory of Hawaii....

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