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Five bills are mentioned in this report. Two of them, H.R. 2422 and S. 829, are very similar and appear to be applicable to the same situations (though I can not find the full text of the latter), with the only difference being that the former was introduced in the House of Representatives, and the latter was introduced in the Senate. As of the report's publication, both were pending legislation in the 109th Congress.

Is it common for similar - if not identical - bills to be introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate at the same time? Why is this done?

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    I think this really belongs on Politics -- even if "why is this done" would be on-topic here, "how common is this" doesn't seem to be. Plus, I'm pretty sure the answer is itself political rather than legal (it's not an issue of "this must be done for legal reasons," but "politicians do so for political reasons"). – cpast Jul 24 '15 at 22:35
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The only legal requirement for bill origination is that tax bills must originate in the House of Representatives.

Otherwise, simultaneous origination is quite common. Differences are resolved through a process called "reconciliation" prior to passage.

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