2 Chapter 7, Section 1HOW A BILL BECOMES A LAW During each 2-year term of Congress, thousands of bills are introduced, but only a few hundred ever become law
3 TYPES OF BILLS & RESOLUTIONS Private Bills: dealing with individual people or places Public Bills: bills dealing with general matters and applying to the entire nation Simple Resolution: dealing with unusual or temporary matters, and passed by one house of Congress Joint Resolution: both houses; president’s signature gives it force of law
4 TYPES OF BILLS & RESOLUTIONS Concurrent Resolution: covers a matter requiring the action of the House and Senate, but on which a law is not needed – does not require President’s signature; does not have the force of law Riders: a provision on a subject other than the one covered in a bill; attached to a bill
5 WHY SO FEW BILLS BECOME LAWS Less than 10 percent of all bills introduced in Congress become law – Why?The lawmaking process is long and complicatedThe lawmaking process has so many steps – sponsors must be willing to make compromisesLawmakers sometimes introduce bills they know have no chance of becoming law
6 INTRODUCING A BILLStep 1: propose and introduce a new bill (anyone can write a bill, but only a member of Congress can introduce it The bill is given a number (HR or S number) The bill is printed and distributed to lawmakers (this process called “first reading” of the bill)
7 INTRODUCING A BILLStep 2: A new bill is sent to the committee dealing with the subject matter – Committee… -chairpersons may send the bill to a subcommittee -members can ignore a bill, letting it die (“pigeonholing”), or kill it by a majority vote -can make changes, completely rewrite, or recommend adoption
8 INTRODUCING A BILLStep 3: If a committee decides to act on a bill, the committee holds hearings about it (to gather information, influence public opinion for or against, focus public attention) After the hearings, the committee meets in markup session to decide what changes, if any, are needed (a majority vote of the committee is required for all changes)
9 INTRODUCING A BILLREPORTING A BILL After all changes have been made, the committee votes to either kill the bill or report it (“report” means to send it to the House or Senate for action) Along with the bill, a written report is sent
10 INTRODUCING A BILL…FLOOR ACTION A bill is sent to the floor of the House or Senate for debate During this debate, amendments can be added to the bill After floor debate, the bill is ready for a VOTE (a quorum, or majority, must be present) VOTING: voice – standing – roll-call
11 FINAL STEPS IN PASSING BILLS To become a law, a bill must pass BOTH HOUSES of Congress in identical form If one house will not accept the version of a bill the other house passed, a CONFERENCE COMMITTEE must work out differences (through compromises) HOUSE and SENATE vote on compromise bill
12 APPROVED BILL SENT TO PRESIDENT The President may… -SIGN the bill, and it will become law -KEEP the bill without signing it, and if Congress is in session, after ten days it becomes law without the President’s signature -VETO the bill by refusing to sign it and returning it to Congress
13 CONGRESSIONAL OVERRIDE Congress can override a president’s veto with a two-thirds vote in both houses Overrides usually difficult to get “Line-item Veto” After a bill becomes a law, it is registered with the National Archives and Records Service
14 Section 2: TAXING AND SPENDING BILL Running the national government costs about $2 trillion a year – passing laws to raise and spend money for the national government is one of the most important jobs of Congress TAXES: money that people and businesses pay to support the government The Constitution gives the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES the exclusive power to start all revenue measures
15 TAXING AND SPENDING BILLS WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE – almost all important work on tax laws occurs in this committee Senate’s role: often tries to change tax bills the House has passed – “Senate Committee on Finance”
16 APPROPRIATING MONEYAPPROPRIATION: approval of government spending is a congressional responsibility – Congress must pass laws to appropriate money for the federal government Ste 1: AUTHORIZATION BILL – sets up a federal program, and specifies how much money may be appropriated for it Step 2: APPROPRIATIONS BILL – program requests the money and it is provided
17 Section 3: INFLUENCING CONGRESS The influence of voters The influence of parties The influence of the President The influence of interest groups
18 Who Influences Congress? The right to petition our government for redress of grievances is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This basic human right has been a hallmark of the American representative form of government. It is so pervasive and well- practiced that it has been given its own name: Lobbying.
19 Who Influences Congress? VOTERSMembers of Congress are interested in your opinion – they want your vote!Most of us have an idea of how we think our government should work, and what it should do – We have a voice: SPEAK UP!Right – Responsibility – Polls – Ballot BoxEach of us not only has the right, but the responsibility, to let our elected officials know how we feel about issues that are important to us. Because you can offer personal experiences as well as a unique perspective on important issues affecting you, your community, or your business, you are an invaluable source of information for Members of Congress. What's more, you are a voice at the ballot box, and that’s a quality that all elected officials value highly. If elected officials don’t listen to their constituents, they are defeated on Election Day.
20 Who Influences Congress? THE PRESIDENT A President can “set an agenda” and push to get it enacted The President’s greatest influence: Persuasion! Other: threat of VETO – having a majority in Congress – appointments to Supreme Court
21 Who Influences Congress? POLITICAL PARTIESMembers of Congress are interested in how their political party votes – most do not “buck” their party leadershipParty leadership advocates an agenda – Committee assignments are made on the basis of cooperation – Party whips persuade members to vote “the party line” – etc!
22 Who Influences Congress? INTEREST GROUPS: groups that have a “single interest” agenda or issue they are interested in advancingThe issues: The Issues:Abortion Health CareAffirmative Action ImmigrationCampaign / Political Reform LaborDrugs Military / VeteransEducation Senior Citizens IssuesEnvironment Social SecurityEuthanasia (Right-to-Die) Taxes / TaxationGay Rights Women’s IssuesGun Control World Trade
23 Who Influences Congress? POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES (PAC’s)A committee formed by business, labor, or other special- interest groups to raise money and make contributions to the campaigns of political candidates whom they support.In the 2008 elections, the top nine PACs by money spent by themselves, their affiliates and subsidiaries were as follows:International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC $3,344,650AT&T Federal PAC $3,108,200American Bankers Association (BANK PAC) $2,918,140National Beer Wholesalers Association PAC $2,869,000Dealers Election Action Committee of the National Automobile Dealers Association $2,860,000International Association of Fire Fighters $2,734,900International Union of Operating Engineers PAC $2,704,067American Association for Justice PAC $2,700,500Laborers' International Union of North America PAC $2,555,350
24 Section 4: HELPING CONSTITUENTS Handling problems: many different requests Helping the district or state Public works bills Pork-barrel legislation