How a Bill Becomes a Law

step1real_edited.jpg

Any Congressperson with an idea for a law can draft a bill. The primary legislator who supports the bill or creates it is the "sponsor". Other members who sign on to support it are "co-sponsors". There is only one sponsor but no limit to how many co-sponsors a bill can have.

Who Impacts This Process? 

F8EC18AE-8182-4628-AF35-4404E2F92AE7_edi

Where the bill is introduced depends on which chamber the sponsor is in: Representatives introduce bills in the House, Senators in the Senate. You can find every national bill introduced on Congress.gov. This is the official government website for tracking federal legislation. 

What Can You Do?

Where the bill is introduced depends on which chamber the sponsor is in: Representatives introduce bills in the House, Senators in the Senate. You can find every national bill introduced on Congress.gov. This is the official government website for tracking federal legislation. 

What Can You Do?

14A2B951-E423-4094-A040-723A3E31AB45_edi

A

As soon as it is introduced the Speaker of the House or ____refers it to a relevant committee. For example, a House bill about school funding would go to the Education and Labor Committee. 

 

The committee meets to discuss and make changes to the bill.

Next, they vote on whether to accept or reject the amended bill.  If the bill is rejected, it's sent to a subcommittee for further research. If the bill is accepted, it's sent to the floor for debate.

Who Impacts This Process? 

step1real_edited.jpg
  1. Committees often refer bills to a subcommittee, which is specialized on certain topics. They can make changes to the bill and vote on referring the bill back to the full committee.

  2.  

  3.   

Who Impacts This Process? 

step1real_edited.jpg

Any Congressperson with an idea for a law can draft a bill. The primary legislator who supports the bill or creates it is the "sponsor". Other members who sign on to support it are "co-sponsors". There is only one sponsor but no limit to how many co-sponsors a bill can have.

Who Impacts This Process? 

D2C44633-D461-49EA-8A0F-931B8329E194_edited.jpg

Once it’s on the floor, there is additional debate. Members of the full chamber (House or Senate) vote to approve any amendments. The majority vote determines whether the bill is passed or defeated.

8ED44EAB-B5AD-4D74-8682-BD42C9908C6A_edited.jpg

Once the bill passes out of one chamber, it’s sent to the other and the process repeats. Congress may have to create a conference committee to go over the differences between both the House and Senate forms of the bill.

 If they can’t reach an agreement, the bill dies. If they can, committee members can organize another conference report to make recommendations for the final bill. Both the House and Senate have to vote to approve the conference report.

8B2C414A-A11A-4117-BD7F-0346C1CEEBC4_edited.jpg

The final form of the bill is sent to the President. There are multiple actions they can take:

Sign it: then the bill becomes a law

Veto it: reject the bill. (See Step 9)

No Action: If the President chooses not to answer and Congress is in session, after 10 days the bill becomes law. The president will opt to use this method if there is a controversial bill they want to pass without much attention or criticism

Pocket Veto: If Congress is out of session during that 10 day period and they choose not to sign it, the bill will not become law. The president will opt for this method if there is a popular bill they don’t want to sign into law without much attention or criticism.

85574CAE-DFF3-4BF6-B0D8-266981E3D8C0_edited.jpg

 Hope is not lost if the President vetoes a bill- Congress can try to override it. This would require both the House and the Senate to pass the bill with a two-thirds majority vote: bypassing the President’s veto and turning the bill into law!