How a Bill Becomes Law - Lewiston School District
How a Bill Becomes Law - Lewiston School District
How a Bill Becomes Law
A. Types of Bills and Resolutions
• 1. Bills — these are proposed laws presented to Congress. Public bills
apply to the entire nation; private bills pertain to certain persons or
• 2. Joint Resolutions- these deal with temporary or unusual matters,
have the possibility of gaining the force of law, must be passed by both
houses, and must be signed by the President.
• 3. Concurrent Resolutions — these deal with common concerns of both
houses, don’t have the force of law, and do not require the President's
• 4. Resolutions (simple) — Voted on by either house, but have no force
of law; they usually are concerned with house rules and do not require
the President's signature.
• 5. Rider- is a provision not likely to pass on its own merit that is
attached to an important measure.
Creating and Introducing Bills
• 1.Most bills are suggested by the executive branch, after coordination by OMB.
a. Legislative agenda, based in part on their party's platform.
b. The president's task is to persuade Congress that his agenda should also
be Congress' agenda.
c. Presidents have many resources with which to influence Congress.
• 1. Influence members directly
• 2. More often will leave White House lobbying to the congressional
• 3. Work primarily through regular meetings with the party's leaders in
the House and Senate.
• 2. Special interest groups often suggest ideas for bills, as do private citizens.
• 3. All revenue-raising bills must begin in the House
• 4. All other bills may be introduced in either chamber.
Library of Congress
The First Reading
• 1. The first reading of a bill consists of the assignment of a house number, a
short title, and entry into the House Journal and the Congressional Record for
• 2. After its first reading, a bill is referred to the appropriate standing committee
for consideration by the Speaker.
The Bill in Committee
• 1. Most work is done by subcommittees.
• 2. Subcommittees complete their work and the measure returns to the full
a. The full committee may report the bill favorably to the full House with a
"do pass" recommendation.
b. The full committee may refuse to report the bill, or pigeonhole it.
c. A discharge petition enables members to force a bill out of a committee
d. The full committee may report the bill in an amended form.
e. The full committee may report the bill unfavorably.
f. The full committee may report an entirely new bill.
E. Rules and Calendars
• 1. Before reaching the floor of the House, a bill must be placed on one
of several calendars, or schedules, for deliberation.
• 2. Calendars: Lists of business eligible for consideration by legislative
• 3. House Rules Committee must give each bill a rule, or approval, as
well as the conditions under which a bill can be debated on the floor of
the House of Representatives.
• 4. The House Rules Committee can kill a bill even after it has been
recommended by a standing committee by refusing to perform any of
• Senate Calendars
• House Calendars
The Bill on the Floor
• 1. Bills are considered in the Committee of the Whole (the House sitting as a
large committee of itself).
• 2. Debate — strict rules limit the length of each individual's debate.
• 3. Voting— a bill requires formal House vote. A quorum (majority of the full
membership) is necessary.
• 4. A floor vote may be taken by:
a. Voice votes are the most common. Voice vote: A vote in the House of
Representatives in which members shout "aye" or "no" and the chair
decides the result.
b. Standing vote (demanded if any member thinks the Speaker has erred).
c. One-fifth of a quorum may demand a teller vote.
d. A roll-call vote (each representative's position becomes a matter of
public record) may be demanded by one-fifth of the members.
Final steps in the House of Representatives
• 1. An approved bill is engrossed, read a third time, voted on again, and signed
by the Speaker.
• 2. A signed bill is then sent to the Senate president.
Differences in Senate Bills
• 1. more informal than House
• 2. does not have a committee equivalent to House Rules
• 3. Senate leaders, by consulting with each other and members, control the flow
of bills to committees and floor debate/voting
• 4. Senate has two calendars: Calendar of General Orders and
a. General Orders lists all bills the Senate will consider
b. Executive schedules treaties and nominations
• 5. Can set aside formal rules and look at a bill from the
• 6. The Filibuster
a. unlimited debate on bills
• 1. a way to defeat a bill: keep talking until majority of Senate either
abandons bill or agrees to modify the most controversial aspects
• 2. once a Senator has the floor, he/she can stand and talk
• 3. after 3 hours they can talk about anything and even read aloud from
a telephone / recipe book
b. can be stopped by a 3/5's vote for cloture (allows each senator to speak
for only 1 hour on legislation being debated)
c. not as powerful as it used to be because of procedural system
• 1. if filibuster starts the Senate sets aside a time of day for dealing
with other business
• 2. filibuster starts again after this is taken care of
d. threat of filibuster is still enough to delay/defeat bills
Conference Committee if different versions passed
(approved by both houses)
Sent to President
Signs Bill – Becomes Public Law
Pocket Veto – Bill Expires (10 days)
Can be discharged
Veto – Bill Fails
Veto override – 2/3 vote of both houses – Becomes Public Law