How a Bill Becomes a Law

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For a bill to become a law it takes more than one step and more than one person deciding, it's not as easy as it seems. First, the legislation is introduced, and then you have the committee action, afterwards floor action, conference committee, the president, and then the bill becomes a law. Some bills will never make it through any of these processes but for those who really want their bill to pass, if they fight for it they just might get lucky. This paper will show you that it takes more than one person and is a long process. Through out this paper I will explain how a bill becomes a law so that you will have a better understanding of the process.

The whole process starts when a Representative has an idea for a new law, that person becomes the sponsor and introduces the bill by giving it to the clerk of the House or placing it in a box, called the Hopper. The bill is then assigned a legislative number by the clerk with H.R. for bills introduced in the house and S. for the Senate. The Government printing office then prints the bill to give copies to each representative.

The Bill is then assigned a committee by the Speaker of the House, so the bill can be studied. There are twenty-two standing committees, each with jurisdiction over bills in certain areas. The standing committee studies the bill and hears testimony from people interested in the bill. The committee may then release the bill with a recommendation to pass it, or revise the bill and release it, or lay it to the side so the House can not vote. If the bill is released it goes on a list of bills awaiting action. Here the House Rules Committee may call for the bill to be voted on quickly, limiting debate, or prohibiting amendments. The committee staff must prepare a written report explaining why they favor the bill and why they wish to see the amendment adopted. The undisputed bills may be passed by unanimous consent or by two-thirds vote if the members agree to suspend the rules.

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