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How a Bill Becomes a Law: About

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How Laws Are Made and How to Research Them (USA Gov)

How a Bill Becomes a Law (Cliffs Notes)

How Our Laws are Made (US Congress)

Legislative Branch (The Westport Library)

Enactment of a Law (US Congress)

What is an Executive Order? (American Bar Association)

How are Laws Made?

Laws begin as ideas. First, a representative sponsors a bill. The bill is then assigned to a committee for study. If released by the committee, the bill is put on a calendar to be voted on, debated or amended. If the bill passes by simple majority (218 of 435), the bill moves to the Senate. In the Senate, the bill is assigned to another committee and, if released, debated and voted on. Again, a simple majority (51 of 100) passes the bill. Finally, a conference committee made of House and Senate members works out any differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The resulting bill returns to the House and Senate for final approval. The Government Printing Office prints the revised bill in a process called enrolling. The President has 10 days to sign or veto the enrolled bill. (Continue reading from US House of Representatives)

Steps in Making a Federal Law

Congress is the legislative branch of the federal government and makes laws for the nation. Congress has two legislative bodies or chambers: the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Anyone elected to either body can propose a new law. A bill is a proposal for a new law.

  1. A bill can be introduced in either chamber of Congress by a senator or representative who sponsors it.

  2. Once a bill is introduced, it is assigned to a committee whose members will research, discuss, and make changes to the bill.

  3. The bill is then put before that chamber to be voted on.

  4. If the bill passes one body of Congress, it goes to the other body to go through a similar process of research, discussion, changes, and voting.

  5. Once both bodies vote to accept a bill, they must work out any differences between the two versions. Then both chambers vote on the same exact bill and, if it passes, they present it to the president.

  6. The president then considers the bill. The president can approve the bill and sign it into law or not approve (veto) a bill.

  7. If the president chooses to veto a bill, in most cases Congress can vote to override that veto and the bill becomes a law. But, if the president pocket vetoes a bill after Congress has adjourned, the veto cannot be overridden. (Continue reading from USA Gov)

Vetoes

The power of the President to refuse to approve a bill or joint resolution and thus prevent its enactment into law is the veto. The president has ten days (excluding Sundays) to sign a bill passed by Congress. A regular veto occurs when the President returns the legislation to the house in which it originated, usually with a message explaining the rationale for the veto. This veto can be overridden only by a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the House. If this occurs, the bill becomes law over the President's objections. A pocket veto occurs when Congress adjourns during the ten-day period. The president cannot return the bill to Congress. The president's decision not to sign the legislation is a pocket veto and Congress does not have the opportunity to override. (Continue reading from US Senate)