How A Bill Becomes A Law

H. Civ. & Econ.

An Idea....

  • Someone proposes an idea to Congress
  • The idea can come from anyone: private citizens, the president, or special interest groups

Two Houses, Two Processes

Once an idea becomes a bill it is sent either to the House of Representatives or the Senate, in which case the following steps are taken in order for the bill to become a law

Step 1: The House

  • Representative hands Bill to clerk or drops it in the hopper

Step 1: The Senate

  • A Senator announces the bill on the floor
  • The bill is given an S number

Committee Action: The House

First the bill is referred to the House standing committee, then it is referred to the subcommittee. Next the bill is reported by the standing committee.

Committee Action: The Senate

The bill is referred to the Senate standing committee, then to the subcommittee. After that the bill is reported by the standing committee.

In both houses...

Floor Action:

The House

The house debates then votes on passage of the bill

The Senate

The Senate debates, and then votes on passage.

If the Bill passes...

After this whole process, if the bill passes in either house (the house it starts out in), then it is sent to the other:


  • If it passes in the House Of Representatives, it is sent to the Senate to undergo the whole process over again for changes to be made and to be approved.
  • If it passes in the Senate, it is sent to the House to undergo the whole process over again for changes to be made and to be approved.

- OR -

  • A different version passes ( in either house), and then the bill goes to the conference committee.

Conference Action

The conference committee works out the differences and sends an identical compromise bill to both chambers for the final approval.

Finally-

If the bill survives this whole process, then it is sent to the president for his approval and signature.