Bill to Law

The Lawmaking Process

How does the lawmaking process start in the United States federal government?

At its premature state a law starts with an idea. Anyone can come up with an idea, private citizens, the President, special interest groups. The bill has to be Introduced to a House by a House member.

Off to the House!

After the bill is introduced it is handed to the clerk of the house who names and numbers it or placed in the hopper and sent to the appropriate committee.

Off to the Senate!!

The same process is done in the Senate, it is handed to the clerk of the senate named and numbered or placed in the hopper and sent to the appropriate committee.

What are committees and their purpose?

Committees are small groups of senators and representatives that specialize in a certain area. For example, there are agriculture or foreign relations committees. The committees can reject a bill, hold a hearing, make changes, and cast votes. If the committee members vote in favor of the bill it is sent back to the House and the Senate for debate.

The Process

Off we go, back to the Senate!

After the bill is back to the Senate the Senators have to agree to bring it back up it is debated and voted on. Amendments can be made to the bill and Senators can effectively wage a filibuster. A filibuster can be ended by three-fifths (60 members) vote for cloture. In the Senate the debates tend to be more wide-ranged.

The House of Representatives need to debate too.

As in the Senate the House of Representatives go through a similar process of passing this bill through the house. The conduct of the debate is dictated by the Rules of the House then voted on. In the House of Representatives there are no filibusters. The House of Representatives can also make amendments to the bill.

Conference Committee

This committee settles the differences between the bills passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate. After this the bill is sent to the President.

The last stop is the PRESIDENT

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the president must sign the bill or veto it.


There is a congressional override occurs, which in most cases is very rare. For a congressional override 2/3 of Congress has to agree.