April 14, 2024


Law For A Better Future

How A Bill Becomes A Law Worksheet

How A Bill Becomes A Law Worksheet In the United States, the formation of laws is a fundamental responsibility of the U.S. House of Representatives. Every law in the nation commences its journey as a bill. Before a bill can attain the status of law, it must secure approval from the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and finally, the President. Let’s trace the path of a bill as it transforms into law.

The Genesis of a Bill

How A Bill Becomes A Law Worksheet
How A Bill Becomes A Law Worksheet

The genesis of laws often sprouts from ideas, originating either from a Representative or even an ordinary citizen. Should citizens possess ideas for new laws, they can initiate contact with their Representatives to discuss these notions. If the Representatives concur, they proceed to investigate and convert these ideas into formal bills.

The Presentation of a Bill

Once a Representative has crafted a bill, it necessitates a sponsor. The Representative engages in discussions with fellow Representatives to gain their support for the proposed bill. Following the acquisition of a sponsor and garnering support from several Representatives, the bill is now prepared for introduction.

Introducing the Bill

The bill takes its initial step within the U.S. House of Representatives by being formally introduced. This introduction transpires when the bill is placed within a designated container known as “the hopper,” situated adjacent to the clerk’s desk. Only Representatives possess the authority to introduce bills in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Upon its introduction, the bill is assigned a unique identifier that initiates with “H.R.” A reading clerk proceeds to present the bill to all Representatives, while the Speaker of the House dispatches it to one of the standing House committees.

The Committee Examination

How A Bill Becomes A Law Worksheet
How A Bill Becomes A Law Worksheet

Upon arrival at the committee, the bill undergoes a comprehensive review. The committee comprises Representatives specializing in various domains such as agriculture, education, or international relations. They engage in research, analysis, and modifications to the bill before voting on whether to return it to the House floor.

If the committee members require additional information prior to making their decision, the bill is redirected to a subcommittee. Within the subcommittee, the bill undergoes meticulous scrutiny, with expert opinions sought, before it is sent back to the committee for final approval.

Reporting the Bill

Once the committee endorses a bill, it is reported to the House floor. This signifies that the bill is now open for debate by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Debating the Bill

During the debate phase, Representatives deliberate on the bill, articulating their reasons for supporting or opposing it. Subsequently, a reading clerk meticulously reads through the bill section by section, and Representatives can propose amendments. Once all changes have been incorporated, the bill is poised for a vote.

Voting on the Bill

How A Bill Becomes A Law Worksheet
How A Bill Becomes A Law Worksheet

In the U.S. House of Representatives, bills can be voted on using three distinct methods:

  1. Viva Voce (Voice Vote): The Speaker of the House requests those in favor of the bill to say “aye” and those against it to say “no.”
  2. Division: The Speaker of the House instructs supporters to stand and be counted, followed by those opposing the bill.
  3. Recorded Vote: Representatives employ an electronic voting system to record their vote as “yes,” “no,” or “present” (indicating an abstention).

If a majority of Representatives support the bill, it progresses in the U.S. House of Representatives. Subsequently, the Clerk of the House certifies the bill and transmits it to the U.S. Senate.

Referral to the Senate

Upon reaching the U.S. Senate, the bill undergoes a parallel process, mirroring many of the preceding steps. It is deliberated within a Senate committee and then presented for a vote on the Senate floor.

Senators cast their votes by vocal affirmation. Those in favor declare “yea,” while those opposed vocalize “nay.” If a majority of Senators endorse the bill with “yea” votes, it advances in the U.S. Senate and proceeds to the President.

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Presidential Action

How A Bill Becomes A Law Worksheet
How A Bill Becomes A Law Worksheet

Upon reaching the President’s desk, three options are available:

  1. Signing and Passage: The President can affix their signature, transforming the bill into law.
  2. Veto: The President can refuse to sign, or veto, the bill. In such cases, the bill is returned to the U.S. House of Representatives, accompanied by the President’s reasons for the veto. If both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate remain convinced that the bill should become law, they can conduct another vote. If two-thirds of the Representatives and Senators support the bill, the President’s veto is overridden, and the bill becomes law.
  3. No Action (Pocket Veto): If Congress is in session, and the President takes no action, the bill automatically becomes law after a period of 10 days. If Congress is not in session during this time, the bill does not attain law status.

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Becoming Law

Should a bill successfully traverse both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and receive the President’s approval, or if a presidential veto is overruled, the bill culminates its journey by becoming a law, subject to enforcement by the government.