Legislation in America
Introduction of bills
A bill can be introduced by any member of Congress. The individual who introduces a bill/legislation is referred to as the sponsor. Thereafter, another member of the same legislative body that is the senate or the House of Representatives as the sponsor can add their name and in so doing becomes the cosponsor. Each introduced bill receives a number and is referred to a committee. H.R. points to bill originating from the House of Representatives while S points to a bill originating from the Senate.
A committee on receiving the bill through its chairperson conducts a hearing or can mark up the bill if necessary, namely an amendment on the bill. Once the amendments are adopted or dropped, the committee will report the bill out of the committee back to the whole body. The committee then writes a report on the intent of this legislation and its implications on the already existing laws (Wise, 1991). However, individuals of the committee can also write to the body to express personal views
The debate and voting at the floor of the house
The speaker of the House together with the majority leader decides whether the bill will get to the floor of the house and when. Thereafter, a representative can push to make amends to the bill with if allowed by the Rules Committee. Senators at the Senate however do not require permission to make such amends on bills so long as the amends they seek are related to the bill. Amends and the passing of bills are done by a majority vote or by a voice vote.
The next chamber stage
The bill then goes to the next chamber from the House or Senate and the process as from is repeated. Bills will be amended, accepted as they are received from the original chamber, or dropped all together.
The conference stage
When the next chamber makes changes to the bill, there is a provision where the bill is returned to the originating chamber for conducting a concurring vote on the amended bill. However, sometimes the next chamber might have made too many changes on the bill and here reconciliation is imminent. A conference committee is appointed to discharge the reconciliation duties. However, the conference may fail to reach an agreement, and this means that the bill will seize to exist/will die. If an agreement is reached, the conference committee will compile a report on their recommendations for the changes on the bills. During the next stage, the House and the Senate approve the conference committee’s recommendations. If either of the houses fails to agree with these recommendations, the bill automatically stagnates.
The president’s action
Once the House and the Senate have approved the recommendations of the conference committee, the bill goes to the President who can take various actions. He can agree with the bill and the legislatures and sign the bill into law. Alternatively, he can veto the bill. Again, if the president does not append his signature on the legislation for ten days when congress is still in session, the bill becomes law even without his signature. However, according to Wise (1991), if the president fails to sign the bill or to take any action when the congress has adjourned the second session this is what is referred to as a pocket veto and the bill dies.
Vetoing a bill
A veto from the President is not per say final, sometimes the Congress can attempt to overturn the veto. This will require a vote of more than two thirds of present members who meet the necessary number for a quorum.