A bill may
be written by anyone but it must be introduced by a senator or congressman
and by doing so they become the sponsor(s). Bills, joint resolutions,
concurrent resolutions, and simple resolutions are the four basic
types of legislation. When a bill or resolution is numbered H.R. signifying
a House bill or S. a Senate bill referred to a committee and printed
by the Government Printing Office, the official legislative process
According to carefully
delineated rules of procedures, bills are usually referred to standing
committees in the House or Senate.
A bill is
placed on the committee's calendar when it reaches a committee. It
can be referred to a subcommittee or the committee as a whole considers
it. A bill is examined carefully at this point and its possibility
for passage are determined. A bill that is not acted on by the committee
is the equivalent of killing it. The vast majority of bills never
makes it beyond this stage.
and hearings, bills are often referred to a subcommittee. The opportunity
to put on the record the views of the executive branch, experts, other
public officials, supporters and opponents are provided by hearings.
Testimony can be submitted in writing or in person.
5. Mark Up
may meet to "mark up" the bill when the hearings are completed. The
bill is examined line by line and alterations and amendments are made
prior to recommending to the full committee the bill. The bill dies
if a subcommittee votes not to report legislation to the full committee.
Action to Report a Bill
The full committee
can conduct further hearings and study, or it can vote on the subcommittee's
recommendations and any proposed amendments after receiving a subcommittee's
report on a bill. On its recommendation to the House or Senate, the
full committee then votes. "Ordering a bill reported," is what this
procedure is called.
of a Written Report
instructs staff to prepare a report on the bill after a committee
votes to have a bill reported. The intent and scope of the legislation,
impact and existing laws and programs, position of the executive branch,
and view of dissenting members are described in this report.
A bill is
placed in chronological order on the calendar after it is reported
back to the chamber where it originated . The Speaker and Majority
Leader largely determine if, when, and in what order bills come up
because in the House, there are several different legislative calendars.
However, there is only one legislative calendar in the Senate.
rules or procedures governing the debate when a bill reaches the floor
of the House or Senate. The conditions and amount of time allocated
for debate are determined by these rules.
The bill is
passed or defeated by the members voting after the debate and the
approval of any amendments.
to Other Chambers
A bill is
referred to the other chambers where it usually follows the same route
through committee and floor actions when it is passed by the House
or the Senate. The bill may be approved as received, reject it, ignore
it, or change it by this chamber.
It is common
for the legislation to go back to the first chamber for concurrence
if only minor changes are made to a bill by the other chamber. A conference
committee, however, is formed to reconcile the differences when the
actions of the other chamber significantly change the bill. The legislation
dies if the conferees are unable to reach agreement. A conference
report is prepared describing the committee members' recommendations
for modification is agreement is reached. The conference report must
be approved by both the House and Senate.
13. Final Action
receives a bill after it has been approved by the House and Senate
in identical form. The legislation is signed and it becomes law if
the President approves it. Or no action can be taken for ten days
while Congress is in session by the President, and it becomes law
automatically. The bill is vetoes if the President opposes the bill,
or it is a "pocket veto" and the legislation dies if he takes no action
after the Congress has adjourned its second session.
14. Vote Override
attempt to "override the veto," if the President vetoes a bill. A
two-thirds roll call vote of the members who are present in sufficient
numbers for a quorum is required for this.