Bill to Law

By: Mikayla and Allison

Every Bill Starts with an Idea

Ideas for new bills can come from private citizens, the White House, or from special interest groups.

Every bill is given a title and a number when submitted.

Committee Action

After a bill is introduced, it is sent to the standing committee. The standing committees have life and death power over bills.

The committee can pass the bill, mark up a bill with changes and suggest that it be passed, replace the original bill with a new bill, ignore the bill and let it die, or kill the bill outright by majority vote.

Debating a Bill

Bills that are approved in the committee are ready for consideration by the full House or Senate. When bills reach the floor, the members discuss the pros and cons and discuss amendments.

The House accepts only amendments acceptable to the bill. The Senate, however, allows completely unrelated amendments to be tacked onto the bill.

Rules of Debate

In the House, the rules committee sets the rules for debate. There are usually time limits on the discussion to speed up action. Because the Senate is smaller, it has fewer rules. One member can speak, holding the floor for hour after hour, delaying a vote until the bill's sponsor withdraws the measure.

Voting on a Bill

After a bill is debated, it is brought to a vote. Voting in the House can be done in three ways. The simplest is a voice vote. In the voice vote you either say "yes" or "no" and the speaker determines which side has the most voice votes. The second is a standing vote. Those who are in favor of the bill stand up to be counted and after, those against the bill stand. The third way is a recorded vote. This is when the member's votes are recorded electronically.

The only difference when voting in the Senate is that there can be a roll-call vote. In a roll-call vote, senators respond "aye" or "no" as their names are called.

If a bill passes in one house, it is sent to the other. If neither of the Houses reject a bill, it dies. Both houses must pass the bill in identical form before it becomes a law.

Action by the President

A bill goes to the President after it is approved. The President can sign the bill and declare a new law, veto the bill, or do nothing for 10 days. If Congress is in session the bill becomes a law without his signature. If the President vetoes a bill then Congress has one last chance to change it.
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