Video:The Legislative Processwith Robert Longley
Learn all about the legislative process and how it works. Here, see facts about the United States legislative process.See Transcript
Transcript:The Legislative ProcessAs part of its legislative process, the United States Congress considers thousands of bills each session. Yet, only a small percentage of them will ever reach the top of the president's desk for final approval or veto.
How Bills Go Through the Legislative ProcessAlong their way to the White House, bills traverse a maze of committees and subcommittees, debates, and amendments in both chambers of Congress.
Steps of the Legislative ProcessStep 1: IntroductionOnly a member of Congress (House or Senate) can introduce the bill for consideration. Four basic types of legislation are considered by Congress: Bills, Simple Resolutions, Joint Resolutions, and Concurrent Resolutions.
Step 2: Committee ConsiderationAll bills and resolutions are "referred" to one or more House or Senate committees according their specific rules.
Step 3: Committee ActionThe committee considers the bill in detail. If the committee approves the bill, it moves on in the legislative process.
Step 4: Subcommittee ReviewThe committee sends some bills to a subcommittee for further study and public hearings.
Step 5: Mark UpIf the subcommittee decides to report (recommend) a bill back to the full committee for approval, they may first make changes and amendments to it. This process is called "Mark Up."
Step 6: Committee Action -- Reporting a BillThe full committee now reviews the deliberations and recommendations of the subcommittee. The committee may now conduct further review, hold more public hearings, or simply vote on the report from the subcommittee. Once a bill has successfully passed this stage it is said to have been "ordered reported" or simply "reported."
Step 7: Publication of Committee ReportOnce a bill has been reported , a report about the bill is written and published.
Step 8: Floor Action -- Legislative CalendarThe bill will now be placed on the legislative calendar of the House or Senate and scheduled for "floor action" or debate before the full membership.
Step 9: DebateDebate for and against the bill proceeds before the full House and Senate according to strict rules of consideration and debate.
Step 10: VotingOnce debate has ended and any amendments to the bill have been approved, the full membership will vote for or against the bill.
Step 11: Bill Referred to Other ChamberBills approved by one chamber of Congress (House or Senate) are now sent to the other chamber where they will follow pretty much the same track of committee to debate to vote. The other chamber may approve, reject, ignore, or amend the bill.
Step12: Conference CommitteeIf the second chamber to consider a bill changes it significantly, a "conference committee" made up of members of both chambers will be formed. The conference committee works to reconcile differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill.
Step 13: Final Action - EnrollmentOnce both the House and Senate have approved the bill in identical form, it becomes "Enrolled" and sent to the President of the United States. The President may sign the bill into law. The President can also take no action on the bill for ten days while Congress is in session and the bill will automatically become law. If the President is opposed to the bill, he can "veto" it. If he takes no action on the bill for ten days after Congress has adjourned their second session, the bill dies. This action is called a "pocket veto."
Step 14: Overriding the VetoCongress can attempt to "override" a presidential veto of a bill and force it into law, but doing so requires a 2/3 vote by a quorum of members in both the House and Senate.
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