Bill to Law Process

Annually few thousands of bills are introduced to the Congress, but only a hundred or two of them become laws. As a rule bill is introduced to one of the Houses of Congress, goes for another one for action, and eventually the President reviews it and decides whether to sign it or not. The steps of this process are described in detail bellow.

Usually the idea comes from the public and is introduced to a congressman who sponsors the bill. Any member of Congress can introduce the bill, and thus the legislative procedure may start either in the Senate or in the House of Representatives (Levy 2000). If the bill is introduced in the House of Representatives it is given to the clerk or just put into a special box on his table, read several times and finally is referred to a Standing Committee. In the Senate the bill gets its number, is sent to the Government Printing Office to be copied and is referred to the Committee as well (Mason 2005).

The next step is called the Committee action. This means that the bill is studied and revised. Committee may rewrite or amend the bill, before deciding whether to send it further or not. In this way, Committee can either kill the bill or approve it. If the bill is approved it is sent to either the House or the Senate. Then floor action takes place. The bill is debated by full House or full Senate. Congressmen offer amendments and vote. If the bill passes in a different version from the one that was passed in the other House of Congress, it is sent to a conference committee. The conference committee resolves the differences between different versions of the bill and makes compromises that include the ideas of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Once everything is agreed the report is sent to both houses and is voted for the last time (U.S. Constitution n.d.).

Finally, after both Houses of Congress have voted on final versions, the bill is sent to the President. The President may either accept or reject the bill (National Constitution Centre n.d.). If the President vetoes the bill, it is sent to Congress, where it can be overridden by a two-thirds vote. In case the President sign the bill it becomes law.

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