Bills are simply ideas that are sponsored by a representative. The bill is then taken through a process termed as the legislative process. If the bill passes all the stages, it then qualifies to be a law. The bill process has various stages before it formally passed into a law. This process involves the following stages:
Although a bill may be an idea of the public or a private individual , it is a member of the Congress who introduces it. After introduction by the specific sponsor, the bill is assigned a designation number (Smith & Riddick, 32). Bills that concern taxes are only introduced by members of the House of Representatives.
Referral to Committee
After the bill is introduced, the leader of that specific house where the bill originated has a duty to play in referring the bill to appropriate committee/committees. There are carefully delineated rules or procedure that have to be followed by the two houses in referring the bill to a committee.
The committees have calendars where they place the bills they receive. The committees can refer the bill to subcommittees or at times consider it as a whole. Subcommittees are made to study the bill deeper and have hearings to get the views of different executives, supporters, opponents, and public officials. At this stage, the bill is scrutinized deeply and its chances of going through determined (Smith & Riddick, 38). In case the committee does not act on a bill, it becomes equivalent of killing it.
Referral to the Full Body
This involves sending the bill to the full House or Senate if it is approved. At this stage, a report on the bill is written (Walston-Dunham, 48). In the House, there are different legislative calendars that are used, but in the Senate, there is only one calendar.
Floor Debating and Voting
The full body debates the bill and votes are casted. The two houses handle the debates differently. In the House, the debate can be limited and amendments offered may be limited by the Rules Committee. In the Senate, there is no Rules Committee thus, they are not limited on the amendments they propose and how long they speak. The debate at large, is usually controlled and governed by strict rules to ensure that it does not consume much time on the floor (Smith & Riddick, 52). Voting is usually done after the debate by the members.
Referral to Other Chamber
The Other Chamber performs almost the same duty as the House or the Senate; however, it receives the bill from the latter. The chamber has the powers to change the bill, reject it, or even ignore it.
A conference committee is at most times set to reconcile the actions of the House and the Senate. Conferees have to reach an agreement, and in case, they fail to reach one the legislation dies. If they reach an agreement, they prepare a conference report that describes their recommendations for changes (Smith & Riddick, p.48). The two houses must approve the conference’s report.
At this level the White House and specifically the president comes in. The president is involved in the final actions of the bill before it becomes a law. Before the bill is sent to the president, it has to be approved by the House and the Senate in an identical form. The president can directly sign the bill to become a law or take no action for ten days while the Congress is on session (Walston-Dunham, 36). The president can veto the bill in case he/she opposes it. If the congress adjourns without the president taking any action, the legislation has to die.