How bills become laws

Bills are proposals bought into a legislative body for review. Upon acceptance, these proposals are then enacted into laws enforceable by the country. Bills go through a number of processes before they are enacted into laws (Sullivan, 2007).

A proposed bill is first introduced to the house by either a member of the senate, the president or a member of cabinet. Heads of federal agencies could also introduce bills but only through a member of the house (DeDecker, 2008).

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After introduction, the bill is then subjected to committee action. At this stage, a committee looks at the bill, comments and makes any revisions as may be necessary. Following hearings and revisions by the committee, reports are written with the committee’s recommendations after which the bill is brought back to the floor of the House and Senate for debate.

In some cases, bills are subjected to a conference committee that is constituted by members from both the house and the senate. This is done in order to reconcile any issues that may be covered by two such bills that may be in both chambers. After careful deliberation, a compromise is then normally reached and a conference report submitted to both chambers on the same (DeDecker, 2008).

Once the bill has passed the committee action stage, it then proceeds to the floor action stage. At this stage, the bill is debated on the floor of the house and senate and any additions and or subtractions made. After the debate on both floors, a decision is then made on whether to approve the bill or not. This is done in a harmonised way to ensure that both the House and the senate reach a consensus on the way forward for the proposed law.

The final version of the bill is agreed upon after the debate and members of both the senate and the house then subject it to a vote.

The last stage of the law making process is whereby the approved bill is sent to the president. Once the president receives the bill, he has an option of commenting and signing it or he may decide to veto it.

Upon the president signing, the bill then immediately becomes law; but if the president decides to veto it, the bill is taken back to congress where it is drafted again or his decision can be overturned by a two thirds majority in both houses. The head of state is allowed a period of ten days to carefully look at the bill and raise any concerns. Once this period expires, the bill becomes law without further delay.(DeDecker, 2008).

The new laws are then published and given numbers. Drafts on how they will be executed are drawn and incorporated in the US code.

References

DeDecker, S. (2008). How a Bill Becomes a Law. UCSB Libraries.

Sullivan, V. (2007). How our laws are made. The library of congress.

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