The roadmap of how a bill becomes an actual is designed to include considerable opportunity for debate and clarification of its content. There are four primary steps in the process of a bill becoming law; introduction, committee action, debate and signing. (factmonster.com).
A bill’s introduction takes place either in the House of Representatives or the Senate, depending on where it originates. Bills that originate in the Executive Branch must also be introduced by a Senator or member of Congress. Once introduced, it is assigned a number and given a title by either the Senate or House clerk. It is then passed on to the appropriate committee for further review.
After arriving in committee, discussions take place concerning contents and purpose of the bill. In the case of Senate bills, these discussions usually occur after the bill has been passed on to a sub-committee. The sub-committee may hold hearings or implement revisions before passing it back to the full committee. (senate.gov)
Another action which might be taken is called “tabling” of the bill, which causes it to die in committee. Once the committee completes its debate and revisioning, a vote is taken to determine if the bill should proceed to the next step, which is on to the Senate or House floor for additional debate. (factmonster.com)
In cases where a bill survives the committee process, the next step takes place on either the Senate or House floor. This essentially is a debate among lawmakers arguing either for or against passage to their respective membership at large. This process is also known as the “floor action” with each chamber having a different method of execution. (Lesson, Week 3)
In floor actions taking place in the House, set of rules designed specifically for the bill are established prior to coming to the floor. The House rule for the bill include such provisions as how long the bill can be debated by an individual representative. In the case of the Senate, time allowed for debate is unlimited. This gives Senators the opportunity to conduct what’s known as a “Filibuster”, which is used as a tactic to delay a vote on the bill by its opponents.
A recent example of a filibuster took place on September 24, 2013. On that date, Texas Senator Ted Cruz held the Senate podium for over twenty-one hours in an effort to prevent funding of the Affordable Care Act. His speech included not only comments relating to the funding bill he opposed, but also quips from Dr. Seuss and Star Wars! (nydailynews.com) However, once his ability to hold the floor expired, the spending bill being debated came to a final...