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Understanding Federal Legislation: A Section-by-Section Guide to Key Legal Considerations

CRS Report – Understanding Federal Legislation: A Section-by-Section Guide to Key Legal Considerations, Updated May 19, 2022 [97 pages]: “Federal bills are increasingly complex, making them difficult to understand for the average reader and the seasoned practitioner alike. What a congressional drafter understands to be the import of a given provision could later be discussed and interpreted in committee or on the floor of the House or the Senate. If the bill is enacted, federal agencies may then consider its meaning, either behind the scenes when evaluating their own compliance with the law or through guidance, rules, or agency orders governing third parties. If a litigant challenges an agency’s interpretation of the law, a court may need to resolve the law’s meaning. Although the court’s ultimate goal is to effectuate Congress’s intent, judges may draw on different philosophies or use different tools to arrive at their conclusions about what the law means. A basic awareness of the rules and presumptions that apply when construing different components of a bill can help Members and congressional staff identify potential issues with the help of legislative counsel when formulating legislation or avoid interpretive pitfalls when reviewing bills proposed by other offices…”

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