How a Bill Becomes a Law
Passing a law in the United States begins with a bill being introduced in the House of Representatives in Washington, D. C. The House of Representatives begins this important process with 435 people who represent all the citizens of the United States meet. A bill is a statement of a new idea or regulation which one or more of the representatives writes down and sponsors. It may be suggested by individual private citizens or companies or groups.
Next, the bill is put in a box on the side of the clerk's desk. This box is called a hopper. The clerk gives each bill a number. It starts with HB (for house bill). Then the bill is given by the Speaker of the House to a committee which handles similar matters. For example, a bill dealing with an education matter would be sent to the Education Committee. The Speaker is the leader of the House of Representatives.
The members of the committee do some research and study and discuss the bill. Sometimes the bill is even given to a smaller group of people called a subcommittee to work on. The subcommittee gives their report back to the full committee. The full committee then decides if they want to put it out for all the members of the House to debate. They do not always do this if they don't think it is important enough.
On the floor of the House, members of the house discuss the bill and tell if they agree or disagree with the bill. Next, the clerk reads the entire bill, section by section. Representatives can raise hands and suggest changes to the bill. When all changes have been made, the members of the House of Representatives vote on the bill.
Representatives may vote in one of 3 ways depending on what the Speaker chooses. He may call for a voice vote. He asks that all in favor of passing the bill vote 'aye'. All opposed are asked to vote 'no'. He must have more than half of the members vote 'aye' for the bill to pass the House. This is called a majority. He would usually do this if he thought most people would vote one way or the other.
Also, the Speaker could ask that all in favor of the bill should stand up. He counts them and then counts those opposed. Thirdly, Representatives could be asked to record an electronic vote, 'aye', 'no', or 'present' (if they don't want to vote.)
Next, the bill goes to the Senate which has 100 members. They go through the same process and then vote by voice. More than one half must vote for the bill. It is now ready to go to the President.
The President can make one of 3 choices. He can sign and pass the bill. He can veto the bill which means he doesn't want the bill to become a law. It then goes back to the House of Representatives. If 2/3 of both the House and Senate can agree to pass the bill, then it will become a law even though the President didn't approve it
The President can also hold the bill for ten days. After that time, it will automatically become a law. This is called a pocket veto.
After a bill has been passed by both the House and Senate and becomes a law, then the United States government must see that it is put into use, and it must be enforced.
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