How A Bill Becomes A Law I'm Just a Bill
How A Bill Becomes A Law Overview
Step #1: Introducing A Bill • Anyone may introduce a Bill • In the House of Representatives: • Hand Bill to a clerk • Drop Bill into a “hopper” (tradition from UK) • In the Senate: • Being recognized by the presiding officer and announcing the bill’s introduction • Bill is numbered and sent to a printer
Step #1: Introducing A Bill • Types of Resolutions (Cont) b) Concurrent Resolution- • Settles housekeeping and procedural matters that impact both houses • Both Simple and Concurrent are not signed by the president and do not have the force of law c) Joint Resolutions- • Requires approval of both houses + the signature of the President • Essentially, same as law • Often used to propose constitutional amendments… • Types of Bills: • Public- public affairs • Private- • a person pressing a financial claim against the government • Seeking special permission for something (citizenship) (once numerous) • Types of Resolutions • Simple (passed by either house) • Example - establishing the rules under which each body will operate
Step #2: Study By Committee • Bill referred to a committee by either; • Speaker of the House • Presiding officer of the Senate • Rules govern which committee will get a bill • Rules vary per house
Step #2a: Study By Sub-Committee 2. Referred to a Sub-committee • Sub Committees are the research arm of the larger, Full/Standing Committee • Multiple Referral vs. Sequential Referral What happens in a subcommittee? • Witnesses appear • Evidence is taken • Questions are asked • Hearings used to • Inform members • Permit interest groups • Build public support Sample Testimony 3. After hearing, sub-committee “marks up” bill
Step #2: Study By Committee Note about Committees: • Committees may hold bills hostage! • Discharge Petition • House – 218 signatures • Senate – motion • Last 100 years – attempted 800+ times, successful 24 times 4. Back to the Standing Committee for a possible vote • If majority of the committee votes to report a bill out of committee, it goes on • Accompanied by a report that explains: • Why the committee favored it • Why they wish to see its amendments, if any, adopted b) If the committee does not report favorably on the bill, the bill dies Are we done yet? I’m bored
Out of Committee…onto Rules 5. Bill must be placed on calendar before it can go before the house again • Though it goes on the calendar, • Not considered in order or • Necessarily at all 6. Moves onto Rules Committee
Rules Committee • Adopt a rule to govern the procedures under which the bill will be considered • Closed Rule: • sets strict time limits on debate • forbids the introduction of amendments from the floor (except if offered by sponsoring committee) • Open Rule: • Permits amendments • Restrictive Rule: • Permits some amendments but not others • Exceptions to the Rules: • In House: • Member can move that the rules be suspended • Requires 2/3 vote • A discharge position can be filed • House can use the “Calendar Wednesday Procedure” • Rules are in place to prevent “riders” • Provision added to legislation that is not germane to the bill’s purpose • “Christmas Tree” Bill • Purpose of Riders?
Step #3: Floor Debate THE HOUSE THE SENATE • Discussed by “Committee of the Whole” • Whoever is present at the time • Quorum for C.W.: 100 ppl (usually 218) • Speaker chooses presider • Committee debates, amends, decides final shape • During this time, no riders allowed- unless related to bill’s purpose • Time for debate divided evenly • 5 minutes per person • “Quorum Call”- time staller • No rule limiting debate • Senators can speak as long as they want • Remarks need not be relevant • Anyone can offer an Amendment at anytime • Amendments need not be germane • Often had many riders • No Committee of the Whole • If house has passed a bill, Committee hearing can be waived in Senate • Senate Filibuster- time staller
Step #3: Floor Debate • THE SENATE (continued) • Filibuster -The use of obstructionist tactics, especially prolonged speechmaking, for the purpose of delaying legislative action. • Strom Thurmond • set a record in 1957 by filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for 24 hours and 18 minutes, although the bill ultimately passed. Thurmond broke the previous record of 22 hours and 26 minutes set by Wayne Morse (I-OR) in 1953 protesting the Tidelands Oil legislation. • Visited a steam room before his filibuster in order to dehydrate himself so he could drink without urinating. An aide stood by in the cloakroom with a pail in case of emergency.“ • Cloture Rule- parliamentary procedure by which debate is ended and an immediate vote is taken on the matter under discussion. • Requires 16 Senators for petition • Motion is voted on 2 days after petition is introduced • To pass, 3/5 of Senate membership is needed- 60 Senators • If passed, each Senator is limited to 1 hour of debate • After that, total debate can only = 100 hours (including role call) vs.
Step #3: Floor Debate • Cloture (Continued) • Double Tracking- • One way to keep Senate going during cloture • Disputed bill is shelved temporarily so that the Senate can get other work done
THE HOUSE Step #4 Voting • Voice Vote- • Yea vs Nay • Division (Standing Vote)- • Stand and be counted (in both, members names are not recorded) • Teller Vote- • the members pass between two tellers..yeas first, nays second • Usually recorded • Role Call Vote- • Yea or Nay to people’s names • Can be done at the request of 1/5 of reps present • The Senate • No teller vote and not electronic counters
Step #5 (Sometimes): Reconciling Different Bills • If a bill passes the house differently in the House than in the Senate, differences must be reconciled. • If changes minor, last house may refer back to first house to accept alterations • If differences are major, bill goes to conference committee: • Each house votes to make committee • Members picked by chairperson of the House + Senate Committees that have been handling the bill • 3-15 members per house (depending on bill) • Decision must be approved by majority of all members • Bill goes back to each house to accept or reject
Step #6: Off To The White House • If bill is accepted by both houses, goes to President • President’s options: • Sign or veto • If President signs, Bill becomes a law! • If President vetos, bill goes back to Congress • Congress can override with a 2/3 vote of members present in each house (if quorum exists) • Vote must be a roll call
Review… • Who can propose a bill? • How is a resolution different from a bill? • Simple • Concurrent • In which house do “bills for raising revenue” get proposed? Why? • Why is it cool to be on the ways and means committee? • What does an appropriation mean? • Os multiple referral of a bill better than the traditional way of referring a bill? • Is the discharge petition useful in speeding things up? • Why is adopting a closed rule most common in the House, not in the Senate? • How is the “Committee of the Whole” different from a quorum? • What are some differences that exist as far as Floor Debate in each house? • What is a filibuster? • Does cloture help move things along? • What are the advantages/disadvantages of a teller vote? • Does Congress take too long to accomplish its goal? • Are there too many members concerned with self interest?