How a bill becomes a law

A bill may go through nine phases before becoming law.
The history of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), a legislation that affects the field of genomics and was approved in 2008, is a great illustration of the legislative process in action.

A bill may be written by any member of Congress, whether from the Senate, the House of Representatives, or both.
These suggestions come from members of Congress as well as ordinary individuals and advocacy organizations.
The “sponsor” is the main Congress member who supports the measure.
“Co-sponsors” are the members of Congress who support the measure.

Step 2: The measure is presented in the legislature.

The measure must be introduced when it has been developed.
The measure is presented in the House if it is sponsored by a Representative.
The measure is presented in the Senate if it is sponsored by a Senator.
Once a bill is introduced, it may be accessed on Congress.gov, the government’s official website for tracking federal legislation.

Step 3:
The measure will be heard in committee.

Both the House and Senate have committees made up of members of Congress who are passionate about certain issues such as health or foreign affairs.
When a measure reaches the committee, it is thoroughly studied and its prospects of being passed by the whole Congress are assessed.
The committee may even schedule hearings to better comprehend the bill’s ramifications.
Hearings enable the executive branch, experts, other public authorities, advocates, and opponents of the legislation to express themselves publicly.
The measure is declared “dead” if the committee does not act on it.

Step 4: Bill review by a subcommittee

Subcommittees are established under committees and specialize on a certain subject.
Bills are often sent to a subcommittee for examination and hearings.
The subcommittee has the authority to make modifications to the bill and must decide to return it to the whole committee.

Step 5: The measure is debated in committee.

The committee will convene to “mark up” the measure once the hearings and subcommittee review are done.
Before recommending the measure to the “floor,” they make revisions and amendments.
The bill dies if a committee chooses not to submit legislation to the full body of Congress.
The measure gets reported to the floor if the committee votes in favor of it.

Step 6:
The measure will be voted on by the whole chamber.

When the measure reaches the floor, it is subjected to further discussion and a vote by the whole house to adopt any modifications.
The measure is then voted on and approved or rejected by the members.

Step 7: The measure is referred to the opposite chamber.

This chamber has the authority to adopt, reject, ignore, or alter the bill as received.
If a consensus is established, the committee members write a conference report containing final bill recommendations.

Step 8: The measure is sent to the White House.

The measure is delivered to the President when both the House and Senate have passed it in the same form.
If the President dislikes the measure, he or she has the power to veto it.
There is also a “pocket veto” if no action is made for 10 days and Congress has already adjourned.

Step 9: Getting around a veto

If the President issues a veto, Congress may try to override it.
If the measure receives a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House, the President’s veto is overturned, and the bill becomes law.

How Does a Bill Become Law?

Congress’ primary obligation is to guarantee that our country has the laws and regulations it needs to prosper.
Senators and members of the House of Representatives accomplish this by introducing bills, or ideas, that they hope may one day become law.
However, this procedure may be highly difficult and perplexing.

Watch this classic School House Rock animation, “I’m Just a Bill,” for a fun and simple approach to get a basic idea of the process:

I’ve detailed how our legislative procedure works below.
I used one piece of legislation I presented, The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2005, as an illustration of how a bill may go from being a concept to being law.

If you want to learn more about how a bill becomes law, go to the Library of Congress’s website.

1. Come up with a concept.

2. Draft a Bill

3. Committee discussion

4. Senate Floor Discussion

5. Collaborate with Housemates

6. Talk about compromises at a conference.

7. Submit it for signing to the President.

Reauthorization (number 8)

1. Come up with a concept.

The first step in enacting a new legislation — or changing an old one — is to establish a vision for how we may strengthen or improve our nation.
This concept may originate from anyone, even you!

I often meet with Delawareans and Americans who identify a problem and want my advice on how to solve it.
I’d been worried for a long time that polluted air released from a number of sources constituted major public health and environmental risks.
This issue was especially acute in Delaware, which, along with other Mid-Atlantic states, is part of America’s so-called “tail pipe,” which gets a large amount of polluted air from neighboring areas.
In 2004, my team and I, in collaboration with other stakeholders, identified a potential strategy for addressing some of the most significant sources of filthy air pollution.
We realized that many trucks and other big vehicles, including school buses, were powered by antiquated, unclean diesel engines, polluting our environment and endangering our families’ health.
I thought that this was an issue that needed to be addressed, so I started working with my colleagues in the Senate, the EPA, and private people to find a solution.

Back to Step 2: Create a Bill.

Members of Congress seek to establish a statute that addresses the issue after recognizing it.
They will sometimes collaborate to propose legislation with other Senators.
Senators and members of the House of Representatives may work together on legislation such that identical or very similar proposals are filed in both chambers.
The Senator or Senators who introduce the bill are known as sponsors, and they are the measure’s principal supporters.
Senators who did not propose the measure but wish to show their strong support for it may sign on as cosponsors.
The Senate Parliamentarian assigns the measure to a particular committee or committees for further consideration when it is presented.

I collaborated with Ohio Republican Senator George V. Voinovich to find a solution to the pollution caused by diesel trucks and other heavy vehicles.
We proposed the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2005 after weeks of collaboration (DERA).
The Environmental Protection Agency was given authority to create a program to encourage diesel clean-up activities under this statute.
This is achieved by distributing funding to organizations and governments in the form of grants and modest loans to assist modernize diesel vehicle technology and equipment and make them cleaner.
Because this was sensible legislation, 22 senators from both parties signed on as cosponsors.

Return to Step 3: Committee Debate

When a measure is presented, the Senate Parliamentarian is in charge of determining which Committee will examine it.
The committee’s chairperson may decide to convene a hearing to review the legislation.
Committee members invite policy experts, agency officials, and other stakeholders to speak on the bill’s impact on the country at a hearing.
After a hearing or hearings, the chair of the committee might opt to convene a “markup,” in which committee members discuss, alter, and vote on the measure.
If a majority of the committee members vote in favor of the measure, it moves to the Senate floor, where each Senator gets the chance to consider and discuss it.
To assist speed up the legislative process, less contentious pieces of legislation are often incorporated as amendments to bigger measures.

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