A conference committee is a joint committee whose function is to arrive at a single version of a bill which has passed the two legislative chambers in different forms. Bills are assigned to a conference committee if the chamber of origin rejects amendments made in the second chamber, or if the bill has a stricken title or enacting clause.
Conference committees contain at least three members of both chambers assigned by House and Senate leadership. Appropriations bills and bills with fiscal impacts may be referred to the General Conference Committee on Appropriations (GCCA). Beginning in 2011, the House established additional permanent standing conference committees that hold public meetings and votes. Previously, few conference committees other than the GCCA actually met. On the Senate side, conference committee negotiations generally remain closed to the public.
If a conference committee comes to an agreement, it will propose a Conference Committee Report (CCR). The report must gain a majority of signatures from members assigned to the committee from each chamber. CCRs are then submitted to a vote of the originating chamber and then to the second chamber. Reports can be approved or rejected, but not amended. If the CCR is approved, the bill is then brought up for a vote on fourth and final reading. If a CCR is rejected, another conference may be requested with the same or different members appointed by the two chambers.