How A Bill Becomes a Law - Coach Helf's Classroom the subject of the bill, Usually attached to appropriations

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  • How A Bill Becomes a Law

  • How A Bill Becomes

    A Law


  • Step 1

    ■ Every Bill starts out as an idea

    ■ These ideas can come from Congress, private citizens or from the White House

    ■ Special Interest Groups may also try to influence Congress to write a Bill

  • Step 2

    ■ Every Bill must start out and be introduced by a Congressman – either a Senator or a House Member

    ■ Every Bill is given a title and number when it is introduced – H.R.1 (in the House) or S.1 (in the Senate)

  • Step 3

    ■ After it is introduced, each Bill is then sent to the standing committee that seems most qualified to handle it.

  • Step 4

    ■ Committees receive hundreds of Bills and they decide the life or death of these bills

    ■ The Bills that hold merit are sent to a subcommittee to research (public hearings may be held)

  • Step 5

    ■ The subcommittee will report to the standing committee who will decide if the Bill should – Pass without


    – Amend and pass it along

    – Replace the Bill with a alternative one

    – Kill the Bill (most bills die here)

  • Step 6 ■ If a Bill is approved by

    the committee, then it is ready for consideration by the full House or the Senate.

    ■ When Bills reach the floor, the members argue their pros and cons – The Senate (only) can

    add riders

    – The Senate also allows filibusters which can only be stopped by a 3/5ths vote for cloture

    – House debate is far more organized, with more rules in place for the debate, SO house bills go to rules committee.

  • Riders v Amendments


    ■ Riders are amendments that are NOT related to the subject of the bill, Usually attached to appropriations (money) bills.

    – Example: Hyde Amendment: anti- abortion law attached to a 1976 appropriation bill that prevents any federal money from being spent on abortions.


    ■ Amendments are any changes to a bill. In the House amendments must relate to the substance of the bill, so no riders may be attached.

  • Why do you think there are more rules on debate and amendments in the House than there are in the Senate?

  • Step 7

    ■ When members of Congress are ready to vote they may do so by – Voice Vote – Standing Vote – Roll-call or today’s

    Computerized Vote

    – A simple majority is all that is needed to pass a Bill. If either house refuses to pass it, it dies

    – The Bill must be passed in identical formats in both houses – conference committees may be needed

  • Step 8

    ■ In a conference committee, equal parts of both houses will work out a compromise bill that they feel can pass through both houses

    – This step is usually needed as often the bill will change once it is passes from one chamber to the other.

    – The bill MUST pass both chambers EXACTLY the same.

  • Step 9

    ■ Presidential Action is the final step – Veto: refuse to sign

    ■ Congress can override the veto with a 2/3rds vote in each house – very unlikely

    – Sign the Bill into Law – Do nothing for 10

    days ■ In session – the Bill

    becomes a Law ■ Out of session – the

    Bill dies – POCKET VETO

  • The End