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How a Bill Becomes a Law

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Chris McNutt

on 9 February 2017

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Transcript of How a Bill Becomes a Law

Members of Congress, the Executive Branch, and outside groups can draft (e.g. write up) bills
The Affordable Care Act (Executive Branch)
Disaster Relief Appropriations (Legislative Branch)
Govtrack.us details laws and bills (full text and summary) and where they are currently at in the process
10,000 bills introduced each year
Bill is introduced and assigned to Committee
Committee refers to subcommittee
Only members of Congress can introduce bills to Congress
"Sponsor" bills
H.R. (112th): American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
Sponsor: Dave Camp [R-M4]
Introduced Jul 24th, 2012
Referred to House Budget and House Ways and Means Committee
Ways and Means refers to various subcommittees
Bill is introduced and assigned to Committee
Committee refers to subcommittee
Only members of Congress can introduce bills to Congress
"Sponsor" bills
S. 1845: Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension
Sponsor: John "Jack" Reed [D-RI]
Introduced Dec 17th, 2013
Referred to Senate committee
Public hearings
Hear witnesses over various viewpoints
"Mark-up" session: study the viewpoints in detail, may offer amendment to bill
Both hearings and mark-ups can happen at the subcommittee and committee level
Report the bill
With or without amendments
With extensive amendments, may consider a new bill altogether -
called a "Clean Bill"
"Tabling a bill"
- no further action
Senate and House Committee procedures are almost identical
Issues rules to govern debate on the floor.
"Closed rule" - Sets time limits on debate and forbids amendments
However, House can vote (2/3rds) to overall this
Debates the bill, may amend it
Lasts for an unlimited amount of time, unless cloture is invoked
Cloture is used to end filibusters
- requires 3/5ths of the Senate to vote
Limits debate to 30 hours
Filibuster - Extended debate to prevent a vote in the Senate
Sen. Ted Cruz (R) Texas
Limited by rules set in Rules Committee
Time is divided equally between both sides
No "riders" on the bill
A rider
is an amendment to a bill that does not deal with the bill's subject matter
The Speaker of the House decides which bills are debated on
If bill is same as Senate bill, then a final vote is put in place
The bill is voted on...
If a bill passes in one chamber,
it goes through the same process in the other chamber
If a bill has been introduced to both houses,
is the same,
and passes, it goes to the
If a bill has been introduced to both houses,
but is different,
then it goes to the
Conference Committee
If a bill does not pass in either chamber, it dies
Senators and Representatives meet to reconcile differences
When agreement is reached, compromise bill goes to Full Senate
Put up to vote if bill is the same as the Senate
Representatives vote on bill, if it passes here, it goes to the President
Votes on bill after the compromise committee
If bill passes, goes to President
Can sign, veto bill, or do nothing
Congress can override bill by 2/3rds majority in House/Senate
How a Bill Becomes a Law
Delegated Powers
We're not done with the Constitution!
Powers given to National Government (Congress) through the Constitution.
: Granted by the Constitution.
: Suggested powers.
: Presumed powers.
Expressed Powers
Granted by the Constitution (in the Articles)
27 written down (Article I, Section 8)
Power to tax and spend.
Power to borrow and coin money.
Declare war.
Raise/maintain an army
Power to regulate commerce.
Implied Powers
Powers suggested by the Constitution
"Elastic Clause" (Article I, Section 8, Clause 18)
Necessary and Proper Clause: Congress gains powers necessary to exercise expressed powers
Setting a national minimum wage (from regulating commerce)
Having a military draft (from raise/maintain an army)
Inherent Powers
Powers Congress (and the President) need to to do their job
Executive Orders - can make mandates of executive powers
How hard to enforce (or not enforce laws)
Control national borders, acquire new territories, defend from revolution
Full transcript