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What Is a Simple Resolution?

A simple resolution (often abbreviated as S. Res.) is a decision passed by a legislative body that does not have the full force of the law. It is not considered to be binding—which begs the question, what’s the point?

There are actually several reasons why a legislative body can pass a simple resolution. One of them is to clear a particular logistical issue or concern; another is to set a guideline for the body. For example, congress can declare a simple resolution to establish a committee, or to enforce a schedule. Assuming that these decisions are not controversial, then the legislative body can pass them without consulting with another house or securing the agreement of the president.

Since simple resolutions often center on very benign, even mundane political “housekeeping” concerns, they rarely get any attention from media or the general public. However, congress can pass a simple resolution that goes against public opinion or touches on an issue that is close to the people’s heart—even if it does not, technically speaking, affect national policy. A good example of this is the simple resolution to increase the number of troops in Iraq.

There are also situations when a simple resolution is used as political weapon. One example of this is when a political party calls its members to go on record and vote on a specific issue. Since the vote is clearcut and involves saying yes or no (or abstaining completely), some political representatives may be forced into a position of having to explain their decision to their district.

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