How A Bill Becomes Law Essay

1248 words - 5 pages

It seems the Founders wanted to make the passage of legislation difficult. The Constitution settles how bills become law in the United States. The procedure is operose and can take significant time to complete. The course materials of week three offer more than enough information on how the procedure works. This essay will, mainly, use the course materials to describe the process of how a bill becomes a law. The process of transforming a bill into a law requires the participation of both the Legislative branch and Executive branch of government.

Before there is a law, there is a bill – and bills have many phases to pass through before these may become laws. The course materials of week three point out that a bill can originate in the House of Representatives or in the Senate – but different versions of the same bill could begin simultaneously in both chambers of Congress (Unit 3 the Congress, 9). It is possible for the President – or someone else – to write a bill, but a member of Congress must introduce the legislation through sponsorship. New bills receive a number and receive assignment to the committee best suited to examine the bill. Project Vote Smart reveals “Bills may be referred to more than one committee and it may be split so that parts are sent to different committees” (Project Vote Smart 2010). If the bill passes through the committee – or committees – the bill may get a new number before passing on to floor action. But it is not necessary for the bill to receive a new number. The foregoing stages describe the initial actions of the Legislative branch in the procedure of a bill becoming law.

Depending on the chamber of Congress where the bill exists, the procedures for floor action differ. In the House of Representatives, “the House Rules Committee regulates debate for each bill” (Unit 3 the Congress, 10). Thus, Members of the House may only speak on a bill in the time mandated by the House Rules Committee vis-à-vis their judgments for that particular bill. It is also possible for the House to meet as the Committee of the Whole, which has more streamlined debating rules – though the Committee of the Whole cannot pass a bill. The Senate debate rules differ with the debate rules of the House of Representatives, as Senators have an unlimited time to debate bills – this lack of limit allows a filibuster to occur. The course materials state, “Debate can be closed by unanimous consent, or by invoking ‘cloture,’ which requires a three-fifths majority (at least 60 votes) of the entire Senate” (Unit 3 the Congress, 10). Once a bill passes through the House of Representatives, or the Senate, it must pass through the other chamber of Congress before it becomes law.

Various actions can occur once a bill passes through the first house and awaits approval by the second. The course materials point out that if one chamber passes the bill the other may: pass the bill as it stands, send the bill to a committee,...

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