(StraightNews.org) – Laws govern the way we live life every day. We’re all subjected to the law, and most of us live as law-abiding citizens. However, few people understand or even know how laws come about. So, how does a bill become a law?
It All Stems From an Idea
Before a law can be made, a bill must be formed. However, before a bill can be created, the idea for a bill comes from either a member of the US House of Representatives or a concerned citizen who can contact their local Representative to submit their idea. If the idea’s good, then the Representative will write it into a bill.
After an idea has been transformed into a bill, it needs to be sponsored. Reps looking to have their bills signed into law will talk with other representatives and gain support. Once the bill receives enough support, it then goes on to be introduced.
To introduce a bill, a Representative places it in a special drop box beside the clerk’s desk in the House of Representatives. The introduction of bills is reserved to House Representatives only. Once a bill is introduced, a bill clerk will give it a number beginning with H.R. The bill will then be read to all Reps by a reading clerk before the Speaker of the House sends it off to one of the House standing committees.
Once the bill reaches this stage, it’s examined, reviewed and revised by the members of that committee. These groups are typically composed of experts in agricultural, industrial, education, energy and international relations. After this process, the bill is then voted on as to whether it should be sent to the House floor.
In the instance that committee members require more information on the bill, they’ll send it to a subcommittee to be further examined, reviewed, researched and revised. Before the subcommittee sends the bill back to the standing committee, it first gathers expert opinions on the matter. The bill is then sent back to the committee for approval.
Report, Debate, Vote
After the bill is approved by the committee, it’s then reported to the House floor, where it will be ready for debate. During this time, all Representatives discuss whether they agree with the bill or not. The Reps then have to explain their reasoning.
After the bill has been discussed and positions are taken, a reading clerk reads the bill to the Representatives, section by section, stopping after each one to discuss changes. After any and all changes have been made, the bill is then ready to be voted on.
In the US House of Representatives, there are three ways to vote. The first is the traditional vote by voice, in which each Representative will say “aye” or “no” depending on whether they support the bill or not.
The second method of voting in the House is the division method, in which those who support the bill are asked to stand and be counted; after those in support sit back down, those who oppose the bill are asked to stand and be counted as well.
The third and final method of voting in the House is via an electronic vote, in which the Representatives press “yay, “nay” or “present,” which means they have no opinion on the bill. The majority of the House must support the bill before it can be passed. Once passed, the bill is certified by the Clerk of the House and sent to the US Senate.
Once in the US Senate, the bill will go through several of the same processes that it did in the House. The bill will be discussed by the Senate Committee and eventually introduced onto the Senate floor, where the bill is voted on, just as it was in the House. However, the Senate may only vote via voice, using the same “yay” and “nay” method. If a bill is voted in favor of by the majority of the Senate, the bill goes to the President of the United States.
The US President
Once the bill has been presented to the president, they can take one of three actions:
- Simply sign the bill and pass it. If the president decides to sign the bill and pass it, it will become law.
- Refuse, or veto, the bill. When the president refuses, or vetoes, the bill, he sends it back to the US House of Representatives along with reasons for the veto. However, should the House and Senate feel the bill needs to become law, they can hold another vote, and if 66% of the vote is in favor of the bill, it will become law without the president’s consent.
- Do nothing. In this case, if the congress is in session, the bill will become law in 10 days. However, should congress not be in session, the bill will not become law.
A Bill Becomes Law
After making it through the processes of the House, Senate and US President, the bill is then written into law and enforced by the government. Remember that the president may not always agree with a bill, but it can still become law through a two-thirds majority vote in the House and Senate.
We all are subjected to the laws that govern us, so why shouldn’t we all know how the process of making new laws work? After all, at the end of the day, this process truly does affect us all.
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