Bills, Resolutions, Nominations, and Treaties: Characteristics, Requirements, and Uses [November 26, 2008] [open pdf - 119KB]
"In each chamber of Congress, four forms of legislative measure may be introduced (or, for resolutions, submitted) and acted on: bills, joint resolutions, concurrent resolutions, and resolutions of one house ('simple resolutions'). In addition, under the Constitution the Senate acts on two forms of executive business: nominations and treaties. This report provides a tabular comparison of the formal characteristics and uses of these six different kinds of business. […] The rules of the two houses include references to the four types of measure, but generally take for granted the distinctions among them, which have developed in the course of congressional history. Today, a bill or joint resolution is used when the purpose is to make law; a joint resolution is used also for the purpose of proposing an amendment to the Constitution. The other two forms of resolution are used for internal business of Congress itself. […] Executive business is so called because it is transmitted by the President, who must obtain the advice and consent of the Senate before the nomination or treaty becomes effective."
CRS Report for Congress, 98-728