How Congress Enters the Process of Bill Making
The United States Congress is composed of two Houses – the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., each session for a period of one year. Each house can enact laws that are not already law. The House and Senate must approve many bills before they are sent to a vote. The two houses often negotiate and conference on issues that haven’t been resolved in committee or in the Senate or House.
The members of Congress are divided into districts, which are often compact and highly populated cities such as New York and California. When a bill has enough support in a district to win by a vote of two-thirds of its members, it passes out of both houses and makes its way to the president, who signs it. If it doesn’t have the support of enough representatives to override a presidential signature, it dies in the House and the Senate and is deleted from the books of legislation. A bill may be brought up again before becoming law if it has the support of a majority of members of both houses.
The difference between legislation that is passed by the House and the Senate, and that which becomes law when it passes the Senate and becomes law by an absolute majority of states is the “veto.” The vote ensures that a bill does not have the opportunity to become law without the agreement of both chambers. A bill cannot be passed with a simple majority in either chamber if it does not have support from the other chamber.
The role of Congress in overseeing federal agencies and in deciding whether or not to implement directives provided by the executive branch is known as oversight. Congress is sovereign and has the right to question the executive branch’s performance on any issue. If a bill passes through both houses of Congress and is approved by a simple majority in both chambers, it is then sent to the president for his signature. If a bill receives only a single yes vote from the House and no votes from the Senate, it goes back to the House and must undergo another vote in order to become law. Once a bill is signed into law by the president, it is then published in the Federal Register.
Congress enacts bills into law with the consent of the legislature, which can be done via a specially called joint resolution, or with the consent of both Houses of Congress. Each house has the right to propose an amendment to an already existing law. However, such amendments need two thirds’ supermajority, which is generally a simple majority, in order for such a resolution to pass. The only time Congress might pass a bill without the consent of the legislature is if there is a quorum, which occurs when two-thirds of both Houses are present and voting, or a simple majority of one-third, which is called a simple majority. Quorum requires more than half of both Houses present and voting. In the House, a simple majority is required to pass a bill out of committee.
Bills can originate in the House or the Senate, which generally divide them into committees. In the House, committees are named after the respective Houses and members serve on them from either chamber. One of the most important committees in any given House is Ways and Means, which meet only to consider bills that will help the economy and help members of Congress receive pay raises. Every member of Congress can introduce and pass bills in committee. All but the minority leader have to abstain, which means abstaining from voting on the bill.