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The Legislative Process And The Congressional Committees

1571 words - 6 pages

The United States Congress was created by the framers of the Constitution as the most important part of the legislative branch of the national government. The Congress was set up with a bicameral structure composed by the House of Representatives or Lower Chamber and the Senate or Upper Chamber. According to “Origins and Development” and “History of the House”, two descriptions of the history of the Congress, both chambers assembled for the very first time in New York in 1789 and then moved to Philadelphia in 1790 where they stayed for 10 years. In 1800 the Congress moved to Washington, DC; however, it was not until 1857 and 1859 that the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively moved to their current meeting locations in the Capitol after its restoration due to the British invasion of 1814 that burned the building. With more than two centuries legislating, the Congress has acquired great expertise in governing the country and meeting the Constitution’s mandates. Yet, in order to accomplish all its tasks the Congress has a very well-defined structure and very specific ways to proceed. Indeed, in order to undertake the most important of its mandates, “to enact law”, the Congress has a rigorous procedure that is combined with some of the different structural elements of Congress which indicate the direction that bills must follow once introduced. One of the most important of such elements is the congressional committee structure.
The procedure for approving a bill and making it a law involves many steps. The following description is a short summary from “How Our Laws are Made”, an in depth description of the legislative process that can found on the website of the Library of Congress. After a bill is drafted, a member of the House or Senate has to adopt it and become its sponsor in order to be able to introduce it to the Congress. This sponsor introduces the bill by depositing the document into a box next to the clerk's desk in the House or handling it directly to the clerk in the Senate. After the bill is introduced it is assigned a legislative number, starting with the letters "HR" if it was introduced in the House or an "S" if it was introduced in the Senate, and referred to the respective committee. Once received, the members of the committee carefully analyze each bill and select those that they think are appropriate. If the bill is selected, the committees discuss and socialize it with experts from executive agencies and the people who will most likely be affected by the new regulation. After discussing the bill, the committees decide what to do with it; they can report it back to the House floor or Senate floor with or without amendments, they can issue a new bill called “clean bill” if it has too many amendments, or they can simply disregard it. Once in the chamber floor the bill is ready to be considered by all its members, this step varies depending on the type of bill, sometimes it is very simple but some others it is...

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