Christmas tree bill

Christmas Tree Bill

Christmas tree bill

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In the United States Congress, a Christmas tree bill is a political term referring to a bill that attracts many, often unrelated, floor amendment. A Christmas tree bill consists of many riders. The amendments which adorn the bill may provide special benefits to various groups or interests. The term refers to the proposed legislation being subject to having each member of Congress hang their own amendment on it.


The traditional Christmas tree bill begins as a minor bill that passes the House. Senators are not limited by the germaneness rule present in the House and are able to add unrelated amendments to the House bill to provide benefits to special interest groups and campaign contributors. Usually the amendments provide tax benefits or favorable trade treatments. Many Christmas tree bills are enacted in the crush of legislation as Congress prepares to adjourn for the Christmas holidays. These bills usually have the effect of reducing the amount of tax revenue collected by the federal government.

It is unclear when the expression "Christmas tree bill" was coined and by whom, but in 1956 Time Magazine published an article entitled "The Christmas Tree Bill". Time Magazine Monday, March 26, 1956. The story was about a farm bill to which more than one hundred amendments were introduced. Clinton Anderson, a Democratic Senator from New Mexico is quoted in the article saying, "This bill gets more and more like a Christmas...
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