How a Bill Becomes Law - Lewiston School District

How a Bill Becomes Law
Chapter 7
A. Types of Bills and Resolutions
• 1. Bills — these are proposed laws presented to Congress. Public bills
apply to the entire nation; private bills pertain to certain persons or
• 2. Joint Resolutions- these deal with temporary or unusual matters,
have the possibility of gaining the force of law, must be passed by both
houses, and must be signed by the President.
• 3. Concurrent Resolutions — these deal with common concerns of both
houses, don’t have the force of law, and do not require the President's
• 4. Resolutions (simple) — Voted on by either house, but have no force
of law; they usually are concerned with house rules and do not require
the President's signature.
• 5. Rider- is a provision not likely to pass on its own merit that is
attached to an important measure.
Creating and Introducing Bills
• 1.Most bills are suggested by the executive branch, after coordination by OMB.
 a. Legislative agenda, based in part on their party's platform.
 b. The president's task is to persuade Congress that his agenda should also
be Congress' agenda.
 c. Presidents have many resources with which to influence Congress.
• 1. Influence members directly
• 2. More often will leave White House lobbying to the congressional
liaison office.
• 3. Work primarily through regular meetings with the party's leaders in
the House and Senate.
• 2. Special interest groups often suggest ideas for bills, as do private citizens.
• 3. All revenue-raising bills must begin in the House
• 4. All other bills may be introduced in either chamber.
Library of Congress
The First Reading
• 1. The first reading of a bill consists of the assignment of a house number, a
short title, and entry into the House Journal and the Congressional Record for
the day.
• 2. After its first reading, a bill is referred to the appropriate standing committee
for consideration by the Speaker.
The Bill in Committee
• 1. Most work is done by subcommittees.
• 2. Subcommittees complete their work and the measure returns to the full
 a. The full committee may report the bill favorably to the full House with a
"do pass" recommendation.
 b. The full committee may refuse to report the bill, or pigeonhole it.
 c. A discharge petition enables members to force a bill out of a committee
 d. The full committee may report the bill in an amended form.
 e. The full committee may report the bill unfavorably.
 f. The full committee may report an entirely new bill.
E. Rules and Calendars
• 1. Before reaching the floor of the House, a bill must be placed on one
of several calendars, or schedules, for deliberation.
• 2. Calendars: Lists of business eligible for consideration by legislative
• 3. House Rules Committee must give each bill a rule, or approval, as
well as the conditions under which a bill can be debated on the floor of
the House of Representatives.
• 4. The House Rules Committee can kill a bill even after it has been
recommended by a standing committee by refusing to perform any of
the above.
• Senate Calendars
• House Calendars
The Bill on the Floor
• 1. Bills are considered in the Committee of the Whole (the House sitting as a
large committee of itself).
• 2. Debate — strict rules limit the length of each individual's debate.
• 3. Voting— a bill requires formal House vote. A quorum (majority of the full
membership) is necessary.
• 4. A floor vote may be taken by:
 a. Voice votes are the most common. Voice vote: A vote in the House of
Representatives in which members shout "aye" or "no" and the chair
decides the result.
 b. Standing vote (demanded if any member thinks the Speaker has erred).
 c. One-fifth of a quorum may demand a teller vote.
 d. A roll-call vote (each representative's position becomes a matter of
public record) may be demanded by one-fifth of the members.
Final steps in the House of Representatives
• 1. An approved bill is engrossed, read a third time, voted on again, and signed
by the Speaker.
• 2. A signed bill is then sent to the Senate president.
Differences in Senate Bills
• 1. more informal than House
• 2. does not have a committee equivalent to House Rules
• 3. Senate leaders, by consulting with each other and members, control the flow
of bills to committees and floor debate/voting
• 4. Senate has two calendars: Calendar of General Orders and
Executive Calendar
 a. General Orders lists all bills the Senate will consider
 b. Executive schedules treaties and nominations
• 5. Can set aside formal rules and look at a bill from the
• 6. The Filibuster
 a. unlimited debate on bills
• 1. a way to defeat a bill: keep talking until majority of Senate either
abandons bill or agrees to modify the most controversial aspects
• 2. once a Senator has the floor, he/she can stand and talk
• 3. after 3 hours they can talk about anything and even read aloud from
a telephone / recipe book
 b. can be stopped by a 3/5's vote for cloture (allows each senator to speak
for only 1 hour on legislation being debated)
 c. not as powerful as it used to be because of procedural system
• 1. if filibuster starts the Senate sets aside a time of day for dealing
with other business
• 2. filibuster starts again after this is taken care of
 d. threat of filibuster is still enough to delay/defeat bills
Final Steps
Conference Committee if different versions passed
(approved by both houses)
Sent to President
Signs Bill – Becomes Public Law
Pocket Veto – Bill Expires (10 days)
Can be discharged
Veto – Bill Fails
Veto override – 2/3 vote of both houses – Becomes Public Law

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