PowerPoint: How a Bill Becomes a Law: The Journey of a Bill

The Capitol, Home of the US Congress


Congress Makes Federal Laws


Follow the bill as it moves through Congress

Introduction of the Bill


•              The bill can come from a variety of sources:

•               Individual citizens,

•               ________________  ________________  ______________

•               Corporations,

•               Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

•               Only a _______________ of ________________ can introduce the bill

•               A bill can start in either House.



8.2b - The Bill is Assigned to Committee

•   Each House has _____________________ committees that consider their bills.

•   Each committee has a _____________________
 (from the majority) and a ____________________  ______________________ (from the minority).

•   They _____________________ (edit) the bill so it will pass on the floor.

•   They can also _____________________ or kill the bill in committee.

•   The bill must also pass through the House Rules Committee.








AHouse committee in session

The Bill is Reported To the Floor


•              If the bill is passed by the committee, it is sent to the whole House for debate and vote.

•               The committee has ____________________ the bill _______________________ to the floor.”

•               The _____________________ determines which bills are discussed and for how long.

•               Committee chairs and ranking members give out time to debate to other members.





8.2c - The Bill is Debated and Voted On in the House

Congressman Reyes on Floor

•            Bills can be considered by the whole House at once: called _____________________ of the _____________________ Votes are done electronically in the House. This is a
______________  ______________

•            A tote board on the wall shows the tally (see previous image of House floor).

Red = oppose.  Green = Agree   Yellow = Abstain

Votes can be taken by voice (“yeas and nays”) or a ____________________  _____________________ where members file past the sergeant at arms.


The Bill Goes to the Senate


•            The bill is sent to the US Senate. A Senate version is written with the letter S. and a number. House bills have HR.

•            As in the House, the bill must be referred to the appropriate _____________________   _____________________

•            Committees hold hearings and make changes to the bill.

•            The committee can _____________________ the bill to the Senate floor.

A Senate bill from 1925

8.2d - The Bill is Debated and Voted On in the Senate

•        The Senate _____________________  _____________________ determines which bills are scheduled, when and for how long.

•              As in the House, the bill must be referred to the appropriate standing committee.

•              Debate in the Senate is unlimited. _____________________ can be used by the minority to block bills.

•              3/5 (60) of the Senate must agree to end debate (this is called _____________________)

•              The Senate Rules committee is much weaker than the House’s.


Both Houses Must Pass the Bill


•  A _____________________  _____________________ in both houses is needed to pass the bill (51%).

•  In the House: 218 needed to control the House.

•  In the Senate: 51 senators needed to pass the bill (and control the Senate).

8.2e - Differences Between Houses Must Be Reconciled

•           Each house passes its own bill.

•           Any differences must be ironed out and made into one bill.

•           The bill is considered by a ___________________  __________________, made up of both House and Senate members.

•           They negotiate and _____________________ and send the combined bill back to both houses.

•           A vote on the ______________________  ___________________ must be taken and passed by both Houses.

A House-Senate conference

 committee at work

Courtesy: www.house.gov

8.2f - The Bill is Sent to the President

•            The president can sign the bill if he wants it to become law.

•            He can include “signing statements” that say how the law should be enforced or if parts will not be enforced.

•            The president can veto, or reject, the bill. He must include his reasons and recommendations for correction.

•            The president can choose not to act on the bill. If Congress is in session, the bill becomes law after 10 days.

•            If Congress is not in session, the bill dies after 10 days. This is called a “pocket veto.”

President Clinton signs

the Year 2000 Information

and Readiness Disclosure Act


The Bill Becomes Law


•              If the president vetoes the bill, both Houses can reconsider the bill.

•              Two-thirds (67%) of both Houses are needed to override the President’s veto.

•              In the House: 369 needed for override. Senate: 67.

            If president signs the bill, it is a federal law that each state must follow.



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