How to Observe a Bill Passed Through the United States Congress

This article is written to observe how a bill is created and makes its way through both United States House of Representatives and the Senate.

Steps

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    Note that a member of the House of Representatives or the Senate introduces a bill to that particular house of Congress (either the House or the Senate).
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    Be aware that the bill is sent to a committee within the House or Senate that most accurately captures the dimensions of the bill. (For example, a bill providing for alternative energy sources introduced into the Senate would be sent to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
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    Follow the bill. It is then referred to a subcommittee. The alternative energy bill would be referred to the Subcommittee on Energy (versus the Subcommittees on National Parks, Public Lands and Forests, and Water and Power).
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    Watch for subcommittee consideration. A subcommittee studies the bill in detail, holding a detailed conclusion session. Discussion is followed by a verdict to present the bill before the full committee. (The Subcommittee on Energy would agree that the bill would be beneficial in providing alternative fuel sources based on evidence presented at the research and conclusion stage.
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    Watch for the bill being presented next before the full committee. If approved, it is sent to the House of Representatives Rules Committee who decides the scope of the discussion when the bill gets to the floor. If the bill is being passed in the Senate, after approval from committee, the bill must simply be sponsored by a single Senator. Because of the size of the House of Representatives versus the Senate, the House requires more structured and clearly defined debating rules whereas the Senate has unlimited time in which to discuss matters.
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    Note that the bill is discussed and voted on by both the House and Senate; if it passes without any changes, it moves on to the final portion of legislative process. However, if the bill is amended by either House of Congress, then it must go to the jointly operating Conference committee. The Conference Committee is made up of both members of the House of Representatives and the Senate (one of the few "Joint Committees"). If the Representatives and Senators can agree on one finalized bill, it then returns to the House of Representatives and the Senate for a final vote.
    • If the vote passes the first (initial majority through both Houses of Congress) and/or second round of voting (passing of the jointly-amended bill), then it is passed on to the President for a signature and acknowledgement as a law.
    • If the President signs the bill, it becomes law. If he disagrees with the provisions, he can veto the bill and send it back to Congress with his recommendations.
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    Understand that a rejected bill in Congress may be amended again through the committee process, or Congress must acquire 2/3 of both the House of Representatives and the Senate in favor of the bill to negate the Presidential veto.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Law and Legislation