The process of how a bill becomes a law is complicated. Here’s a quick explanation of how it works in the United States.
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How a Bill Becomes a Law
A bill is a proposed law that is introduced in Congress. If a bill is passed by both the House and Senate and signed by the President, it becomes a law. If the President vetoes a bill, it does not become a law unless both houses of Congress vote to override the veto by a two-thirds majority.
A bill may be introduced in either house of Congress by any member. The first step is referred to as “first reading.” The clerk of the House or Senate reads the title of the bill aloud. The bill is then assigned to a committee for study.
The committee may hold hearings on the bill during which experts and citizens give testimony for or against the bill. The committee may also choose to take no action on the bill.
If the committee approves the bill, it is reported back to the House or Senate with a “committee report” that recommends passage of the bill. The report includes any amendments that were made in committee. The Speaker of the House or Senate may choose to have all or part of the bill debated on the floor of each chamber before voting takes place.
If a majority of members vote in favor of the bill, it passes and is sent to the other chamber where it must go through all steps again before it can be sent to the President for signature. If both houses pass identical versions of a bill, it is sent directly to the President who can choose to sign or veto it. If one chamber amends a bill passed by another chamber, a “conference committee” made up of members from both chambers works out differences between them before sending it back for approval in each chamber again.
Origins of Our Legislative Process
Most people are probably familiar with the process by which a bill becomes a law in the United States. A bill is first introduced in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, where it is then assigned to a committee for review. If the committee approves the bill, it is then sent on to the floor of the House or Senate for debate. Once both chambers of Congress have voted on and passed the bill, it is then sent to the President for signing.
This simple outline, however, belies the complex origins of our legislative process. The United States Congress is a bicameral legislature, meaning that it is divided into two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. This division was originally established by Article I, Section I of the Constitution, which established that “all legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
The Constitution does not lay out any specific rules or procedures for how Congress should function; rather, it leaves this question up to Congress itself to decide. Over time, Congress has established certain norms and conventions that govern its operations. For example, each chamber has rules governing debate on bills and amendments. These rules can be changed by a vote of that chamber’s members.
The division of power between the House and Senate has also evolved over time. Currently, each chamber has certain powers that are unique to it: only bills originating in the House can originate revenue-raising legislation (such as taxes), while only bills originating in the Senate can confirm presidential nominees to executive branch positions or federal courts. Other important powers are shared between both chambers: both must pass any bill before it can be sent to the President for signing, and both must approve any treaty before it can go into effect.
The Constitution also gives each chamber power to police its own members: The House can expel one of its members by a two-thirds vote, while the Senate can expel one of its members by a two-thirds vote
The Legislative Process in the House of Representatives
For a bill to become a law, it must first go through the legislative process. This process begins when a member of Congress introduces a bill in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. The bill is then assigned to a committee, where it is debated and amended before being voted on by the full House or Senate.
If the bill passes in both the House and Senate, it goes to the President for approval. If the President signs the bill, it becomes a law. If the President vetoes the bill, it goes back to Congress with his objections. If 2/3 of both houses vote to override the veto, then the bill becomes a law without the President’s signature.
The Legislative Process in the Senate
In the Senate, both formal and informal procedures are used to bring a bill to the floor and ultimately pass it into law.
The formal process begins when a Senator formally introduces a bill by placing it in the hopper on the Senate floor. Once a bill is introduced, it is assigned to a committee by the Senate Majority Leader. The committee then reviews the bill and may hold hearings on it before voting on whether or not to report it back to the Senate.
If the committee votes to approve the bill, it is then placed on the Senate calendar. The Majority Leader may choose to bring the bill up for debate at any time, but usually only does so after consulting with members of his or her caucus. Once debate begins, Senators can offer amendments to the bill before voting on its final passage.
The informal process for passing legislation in the Senate is known as unanimous consent. Under this procedure, any Senator can object to bringing a bill up for debate or passing it into law. If no objection is raised, the bill can be quickly passed without any formal debate taking place.
Conference Committees and Compromise
In the United States Congress, a conference committee is a special committee appointed by the House of Representatives and Senate to resolve disagreements on a particular bill. A conference committee is usually composed of senior members of the standing committees of each House that originally considered the legislation. Conference committees operate after the House and the Senate have passed differing versions of a bill. Conference committees exist to draft a compromise bill that both the House and Senate can approve.
Once both chambers pass identical versions of a bill, it is sent to the president to sign into law. If either chamber refuses to approve the compromise bill, then the legislation fails.
The President and Legislative Action
The President of the United States is responsible for signing legislation into law. In order for a bill to become a law, it must first be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Once a bill has been passed by both chambers of Congress, it is sent to the President for his signature. If the President vetoes a bill, it is sent back to Congress with his objections. If two-thirds of both houses of Congress agree to override the President’s veto, the bill becomes a law.
The veto power is one of the most important aspects of the lawmaking process. It gives the President the ability to reject a bill that has been passed by Congress. If the President vetoes a bill, it cannot become a law unless two-thirds of both the House and Senate vote to override the veto. The President may also choose to pocket veto a bill, which means that he does not sign it into law and it fails to become a law.
Overriding a Veto
In order for a bill to become a law, it must be passed by both the House and Senate and then signed by the President. If the President vetoes a bill, it can still become a law if two-thirds of both houses of Congress vote to override the veto.
The Importance of the Legislative Process
In a democracy, the legislature is one of the most important institutions. It is the body of elected representatives who make the laws that govern a country. The legislative process is how these laws are created.
The process begins when a member of the legislature introduces a bill, which is a proposal for a new law or a change to an existing one. The bill then goes through several stages of debate and discussion before it is finally voted on. If it is approved by the majority of lawmakers, it becomes a law.
The legislature is an important check on the power of the executive branch of government, which implements and enforces the laws. The legislature can pass laws that the executive does not agree with, and it can also block or overturn executive actions that it disagrees with.
The legislature also plays an important role in democracy by holding elections. In most democracies, it is the legislature that elects the head of state, such as the president or prime minister.
After a bill is introduced, it is referred to the committee that has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the bill. If the committee approves of the bill, it “reports” the bill back to the House or Senate, with a committee report explaining its recommendations.
The next step is for the House or Senate to ” debate” and vote on the bill. If the House or Senate passes the bill, it goes to the other chamber, where it may be debated and voted on again.
If both chambers pass identical versions of a bill, it goes to the President for his signature. If he signs it, it becomes a law. If he vetoes it, it does not become a law unless two-thirds of both houses vote to override his veto.