How a Bill Becomes a Bill

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Stacey

February 26, 2013
The Process of Law-Making in the United States
A bill or proposed law, starts as an idea. This Idea could be to form a new law or change an existing law. The first step of getting the bill acted upon is writing the idea down. Writing down the proposed law was an idea taken from the Romans which ensures that when the bill gets to the member of legislature that they know what they are voting on. (Bonner 9) Although a bill can be thought up by anyone, it can only be introduced by a member of congress, individual that are members of the House or Senate. There are 100 members in the Senate and The House of Representatives has 435 Members (Library of Congress). It is a long process for a bill to become a law, and we will take a closer look at each of these steps. Introduction, is the first step for the bill. The individual that introduces the bill is the sponsor of that bill and will often have many other congress members’ work on it with them and they are the co-sponsors. Once it is decided by a member of the House to introduce a bill he places its written form in a hopper. A hopper is a basket or a wooden box outside the office of the clerk (Bonner 11, 15). A member of Senate must introduce his bill by getting permission from the President/Majority Leader (United States Senate). A lot goes into the process of writing the bill before it lands in the hopper. A team of code reviewers will write up the bill to be proposed in a proper format. At the top of each bill is the number of the congress that considered the bill followed by placing which house originally considered the bill, H.R for House of Representatives and S. for the Senate precede the number (Donovan 11-15). Finally the body of the bill detailing what the proposed law is or what law it proposes to change it. Once this bill has been written up in this format and has a sponsor, the member that introduces the bill, it is then placed in the hopper on the House of Representative side in the Senate side it goes to a clerk at the President’s desk. All Bills, with the exception of those about revenue according to Article I, Section 7 which must originate in the House side, can originate in either side of congress (Library of Congress). The clerk assigns the bill a number and places the bill in the log of legislation and it is presented to the presiding officer. Some bills that are similar or identical may be entered into both House and Senate and is known as a “companion bill” (Library of Congress). Now that the bill has been introduced it go to committee assignment. The presiding officer decides what committees the bill should be assigned to. The presiding officer is the Speaker in the House of Representatives and in the Senate either the Majority Leader or the President (Bonner 21). The presiding officer has a set of rules that help him decide which committee the bill should be assigned to. Both the Senate and the House sides are divided into committees. These committees have members voted onto them and representatives from both the majority and minority parties. Although, the majority will have a greater representation on each committee. Members try to get elected to the committees that he is most familiar or interested in to serve on There are 20 standing committees on the House side and 16 on the Senate side (The United States H.O.R.). Each committee has jurisdiction over specified areas and have their own rules, and both chambers have rules about how many committees or subcommittees a member can serve on. Each committee must meet at least once a month. The now assigned bill is sent to the government printing office and then given to each chairmen of the assigned committees where a clerk enters it onto the calendar (Library of Congress). Committees is where the true work of the legislative process takes place and deliberation about the proposed bill takes place. The head of each committee along with their staff study the Bill. The staff...
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