How Does Congress Get Legislation Registered?
The United States Congress is a bicameral legislative legislature of our national government and is made up of both houses of Congress. The Congress meets in session once in every legislative year, at the beginning of January each year. This session is also known as “session” because it is a one-year session. Each member of Congress may propose and pass bills to be considered for the next session. However, legislation which has already been passed by the House and Senate is not eligible for consideration by the members of Congress in session for a second time.
Each member of Congress has one vote. So, when a bill is passed by a House member and a Senate member to be added to the bill, it needs to have more than half of those members present in both chambers to agree in order for it to be passed. When more than half of the members are present and agree on a certain piece of legislation, it is then sent for a vote in both chambers. When all members of Congress agree on a bill, it is then sent to the President for his signature. (The President is required by law to sign any bill passed by Congress.)
In the United States, there are two different types of Congress: a general session and a special session. A general session occurs whenever a bill is passed by the House and Senate and signed by the President. Special sessions occur only a certain number of days every two years, at the end of which the bills are returned to the states for them to vote on or against. Bills that become law without being passed by the General Session are called “revenues” instead of “legislative bills”. Thus, revenue bills (which include taxes) are referred to as revenue bills.
In a General Session, all members of Congress are present and participate in the proceedings. Bills that become law during this session are referred to as “proposed laws” and those which are not passed become “revenues”. If a bill is passed during the session, it is sent back to the House or the Senate for reconsideration, where it is passed again before becoming a law. It then goes back to the States, where it is again passed by a final vote. If no final vote has been taken, the bill is then sent back to the House or the Senate for another final vote.
There are several different committees in both the Houses that have jurisdiction over many bills. The committees are controlled by the Speaker, the Minority Whip, and the Minority Leader. Each member has a list of “cosponsors”, which indicates whether they are favorably inclined towards a particular bill. The top member of a committee can introduce a resolution that attempts to put a hold on a bill (known as a cloture). A simple majority is all that is needed to pass a resolution.
On the other hand, if a majority of the members of Congress are against a bill, it simply will not be passed. The resolutions that are passed are referred to as “german amendments” after the members who sponsor them. German amendments are amendments that are attached to the main bill and require a super-majority in order for them to pass. Many members feel that this leads to little if any change in the final bill. For example, a bill that will have an oil spill, which would require spending billions of dollars, will be passed with a majority vote, but any attempts at changing that bill will fail.