How a Bill Becomes a Law

Sara Frost and Maggie Olson

Step 1: Bill is introduced in the house

Representatives drop it into the hopper, a mahogony box that is accessible to all near the front of the chamber.

Step 2: Study discussion and review

The speaker of the house sends it to the appropriate committee.

Step 3: Committee process- heart of the legislative process

The committee does what the senate and the house of representatives could not do as well as functioning as a whole. The committee can and should do the fact finding groundwork. The formation of a committee breaks down the membership into numerous small groups.

How To Become a Committee Member

It varies from organization to organization and should be set out in the organizations constitution. Either appointment or election. Election is the most common and the process may vary from a complex prescribed procedure to a simple agenda item at which your nomination is proposed, seconded, and agreed.

Why do we have committees?

We have committees to monitor on-going governmental operations, identify issues suitable for legislative review, gather and evaluate information, and recommend courses of action to the senate.

Step 4: After Bill survives, they are put on the House calendars

Calendars list bills that are up for consideration. The House and Senate debate, argue, and agree. A quorum call is a vote to make sure that there are enough members present (218) to have a final vote. If there is not a quorum, the House will adjourn or will send to the sergeant at arms out to round up missing members.

Step 5: Conference Committee

If the House and Senate pass the same bill, then it is sent to the president. If the House and Senate pass different bills, they are sent to the conference committee (most major legislation goes to a conference committee). Members of each house form a conference committee and meet to work out the differences. The committee is usually made up of senior members who are appointed by the presiding officers of the committee that originally dealt with the bill. Then when they reach a compromise, there is s written conference report which is submitted to each chamber. Then it must be approved by both the House and the Senate.
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Step 6: The bill is sent to the president to review

A bill becomes a law if signed by the president or if not signed within 10 days and the congress is in session. If the congress adjourns before the 10 days and the president has not signed the bill, then it does not become a law (pocket veto). If the president vetos the bill, it is sent back to congress with a note stating their reasons. The chambers that originated the legislation can attempt to override the veto of two-thirds of the those present. If the veto of the bill is overridden in both chambers then it becomes a law.

Step 7: The bill becomes a law

Once a bill is signed by the president or his veto is overridden by both houses, it becomes a law and is assigned an official number.