There are three main processes that a bill must follow before it becomes law. The procedures are governed by the constitutional provisions whose primary purpose is to create obstacles for the bill that are designed to become law. These provisions fit into the founders' intent of legislation because they believed an efficient system is one of the hallmarks of an oppressive government. They were convinced that a law that has overcome the many hurdles is a product of well-considered actions because of inspection by many eyes (ushistory.org n.p).
According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, anyone can draft or propose a bill, but a congressman has to introduce it to parliament, therefore, acting as its sponsor (n.p). Congress which represents the legislative wing of the government has the mandate of creating the laws of the land. The bill must pass through the two houses of Congress and signed by the president before it becomes law. In this case, the president represents the executive arm of the government that is responsible for implementing and enforcing the rules. There is no specific time for a bill to begin its journey, but it must be passed within the same congressional session (ushistory.org n.p). Any more extended period and the bill will be dropped. Anyone interested in moving the bill will have to reintroduce it and take it through the whole process again.
The first step of passing a bill involves committee consideration. The stage consists of committee and subcommittee. The high number of proposals has warranted that bills be sent directly to the subcommittee. A high percentage of bills die in the committee stage. If the committee or subcommittee fails to act on the bill, it is mostly dead (National Human Genome Research Institute n.p). Most of the bills die because they are forgotten or pigeonholed and never discussed again. If it survives, the committee sets up various hearings with lobbyists, experts, and government officials after which it is revised, marked up and readied for introduction on the floor.
In the house, there is the special rules committee which sets up the time limit on the debate and rules for adding amendments (ushistory.org n.p). If the time limits are short and the changes have been barred from the floor, the committee can impose a gag rule. The rules for the Senate are less strict because Senators are allowed to talk on each bill for as long as they want. There are no restrictions or amendments permitted in the Senate. Both the house and the Senate require the majority of the members to be present for a vote to happen. The bill must get a majority vote in both houses for it to pass.
From the floor, the bill goes to the conference committees. According to ushistory.org, most laws that pass through the committee consideration and the floor debate do not need to go to the conference committees. The conference committee is made up of members from the standing committees that that sponsored the bills. The conference committee is supposed to merge the two proposals from congress and senate by coming up with a compromise. The revised bill is sent back to the floor of each house and passed by both houses so that it can become law. If it completes the process, it is sent to the president for signing. The president as the executive wing of government has within ten days to sign the bill for it to become law. Alternatively, he can veto the bill by returning it to Congress along with the reasons for his objections. However, the president's veto can be overridden by two-thirds majority votes from both houses. Moreover, if Congress is in session and the president fails to sign the bill within ten days, it immediately becomes law without his signature.
The long process of passing a bill is a deliberate action by founders of the nation to ensure that the process remains democratic. So that bills that become law have gone through sufficient scrutiny.
Up to that point, the process has not involved the third branch of government that is the judiciary, in the process. The judiciary is composed of the Supreme Court and lower courts. The bench cannot make laws, but it can still declare the law unconstitutional. The Supreme Court which is the highest court can determine how American interpret laws across the whole of the United States (GovTrack.us n.p). All three branches of government have the power to influence the legislative process. The legislature has the most influence because it has a lot of people hence less likelihood of one person having more control over the rest. The executive and the judiciary have fewer members than the legislature, and as a result, they have lesser roles to play. But a function that is essential none the less.
GovTrack.us. How Laws Are Made. 2004. Civic Impact LLC. Website. 16 November 2018.
National Human Genome Research Institute. How a Bill Becomes Law. 12 March 2012. National Human Genome Research Institute. Website. 16 November 2018. <https://www.genome.gov/12513982/how-a-bill-becomes-law/>.
ushistory.org. How a Bill Becomes a Law. 2018. American Government Online Textbook. Website. 16 November 2018. <http://www.ushistory.org/gov/6e.asp>.
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