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How a Bill Becomes a Law

This guide explains how a bill is created, approved, or denied in U.S. and Texas legislation. It includes a glossary, live video, links to films on the legislative process, and sites where bills can be researched.

WHAT IS A BILL?

A bill is an idea in someone's brain, an attempt to solve a problem by creating a law. 

Bills can be created by anyone, a legislator, an organization, or you!

Bill proposals are drafted into legal language by outside groups, lobbyists, Congress, or the President.

 

 

BILL DRAFTS ARE SPONSORED,PRESENTED, REVISED, AND PRESIDENTIALLY REVIEWED

Bills are"sponsored" and "introduced" to the House or Senate only by members who agree that the proposed idea should be law.  A proposed law may be called a "bill" or a "joint resolution."

Numbers are assigned to bills in the House(H.R.) and in the Senate(S.) after being introduced in Congress.

The bill passes through both the House and Senate, following a similar process:

STAGE 1:  COMMITEE        

STAGE 2:  ACTION

STAGE 3:  PRESIDENTIAL DECISION 

After discussion and revision by committees, and debate by Congressional members, a bill is approved by both chambers.  A final version goes to the President, who approves it, or vetoes it. If vetoed, it can still be made into a law by a two-thirds majority vote in Congress.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

House: Responsible for tax legislation; revenue bills.  

Senate: Responsible for confirmations of Presidential nominations; international treaties.

TRACK A BILL: 

Choose a site that historically covers the congressional session related to your bill.  

6th Congress to present (govtrack.us, 1799)

16th Congress    (American Memory, 1819) 

93rd Congress     (congress.gov, 1973)

 

NEED ASSISTANCE?

Kristina Claunch's picture
Kristina Claunch
Contact:
936-294-1520
kclaunch@shsu.edu

 

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