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The Legislative Process

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Presentation on theme: "The Legislative Process"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Legislative Process
How Congress Works The Legislative Process

2 A Bill v. A Law Bill - a proposed new law introduced within a legislature that has not yet been passed, enacted or adopted

3 A Bill v. A Law Law - a bill or act passed by a legislative body

4 Types of Bills public bill – proposed legislative bill that deals with matters of general concern and application private bill – a proposed legislative bill that deals with specific private, personal, or local matters rather than general affairs appropriation bill – legislative motion authorizing the government to spend money

5 resolution - a measure expressing opinions on policies or issues
Types of Resolutions resolution - a measure expressing opinions on policies or issues simple resolution – measure dealing with “house-keeping” or procedural matters that only affect one house joint resolution – measure when approved by both houses and the president carries the force of law concurrent resolution – legislative motion that must be approved by both houses, but does not have the force of law

6 Congressmen Wear Many Hats
Legislator Representative Partisan Committee Member Politician

7 A Congressman’s Balancing Act
Delegate Trustee Floor vote on the Energy Bill! How should I vote? My constituents first or my country???

8 Navigating the Legislative Obstacle Course

9 Step 1: An Idea for a Bill Sources: Member(s) of Congress
Private Citizen Interest Group Federal Agency White House Governor(s) Mayor(s)

10 Step 2: Writing & Introduction of Bill
Senate: Bill formerly read aloud on floor Bill then given to clerk Referred to committee by Steering Committee House: Bill dropped in hopper Referred to committee by the Speaker Sen. Smith introduces bill on the Senate floor ~ Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

11 Step 3: Committee Action
On average, 4,000 to 5,000 bills are submitted to Congress each year Every bill is assigned a number and is sent to the appropriate standing committee New bills typically go directly to a subcommittee, which can hold hearings on the bill Experts testify, other evidence is considered Bills are “marked-up” (revised and rewritten) Subcommittees send bills to full committee for final revisions and a recommendation

12 Step 3: Committee Action II
Bills receiving a favorable committee report are reported out for consideration by the whole House or Senate. Most bills die in committee (pigeonholed) If a majority of the House wishes to consider a bill, they can force it out of committee with a discharge petition (requires a majority vote of all House members committee members serve as “floor managers” of the bill

13 Step 4: Floor Action - Senate
Party leaders schedule bills for floor debate on the calendar Unlimited debate Filibuster - member(s) keep talking to block debate on a bill Cloture vote by 3/5 of Senators (60) can end filibuster Floor vote: Roll Call, Standing, Voice Senator Strum Thurman still holds the record for the longest filibuster - 24 hrs 18 min. on the 1957 Civil Rights Act

14 Step 4: Floor Action - House
Rules Committee schedules bills on calendar & decides whether amendments may be added Limited debate Floor vote: Recorded, Standing, Voice

15 Step 5: Approved Bill Crosses Over to Other House
Approved bill must pass each chamber by a simple majority

16 Step 6: Conference Committee
Members from each chamber meet to reconcile differences in the two bills Senate-House Conference Committee works out details of the 2003 Healthy Forest Restoration Act

17 Step 7: Both Chambers Vote on Final Version of the Bill

18 Step 8: President Considers Bill
President can: sign the bill into law veto bill pocket veto Note: Congress can override veto with 2/3 vote in each house; only 4% of vetos have been overriden

19 Sausage Making Presidents and Congress: Partners and Protagonists
Presidents attempt to persuade Congress that what they want is what Congress wants. Presidents have many resources to influence Congress.

20 Sausage Making Party, Constituency, and Ideology
Party Influence – Party leaders cannot force party members to vote a particular way, but many do vote along party lines. Polarized Politics – Differences between Democrats and Republicans in Congress have grown considerably since 1980.

21 Sausage Making Party, Constituency, and Ideology
Constituency Opinion – On the controversial issues, members are wise to vote based their constituency opinion. Member Ideology – The dominant determinant of member’s vote on most issues is their ideology.

22 Sausage Making Lobbyists and Interest Groups
35,000 registered lobbyists represent 12,000 organizations seeking to influence Congress. The bigger the issue, the more lobbyists will be working on it. Lobbyists try to influence legislators’ votes. Congress can ignore, reject, and regulate the lobbyists.

23 Sausage Making “Pork” – aka “pork-barrel legislation” – bills to benefit constituents in hope of gaining their votes Logrolling – Congress members promise to support each other’s proposals through an exchange of votes and persuasion Christmas-tree bill –bill with many riders (pork) in Senate, no limit exists on amendments, so Senators try to attach riders that will benefit their home state

24 TERM LIMITS DEBATE No current limit on how many terms members of Congress can serve Some argue this has weakened popular control of Congress, reps might be unresponsive to their constituents Some argue most experienced reps have the expertise to bring home more benefits (pork, riders, etc.)

25 Critical Thinking: Fact: About 5,000 bills are introduced in Congress every year, but only about 150 are signed into law. Explain why so few bills become law. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Should the legislative process in Congress be reformed? If yes, what changes would you recommend? If not, why not?

26 Title: Imagine there’s no Congress
Title: Imagine there’s no Congress Artist: Joe Heller, Green Bay Press-Gazette Date: 6/06/07 Source:

27 Artist: RJ Matson Date: 6/14/07 Source:

28 Source: Date: 5/6/06

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