From Sending Bills to Congress to Making Them Laws
The number of bills introduced to Congress each year varies.
The 115th Congress introduced over 10,000 bills between 2017 and 2019, and 443 of these were signed into law by the president. Approximately 1500+ health care bills made it to Congress during this time with 124 of them being passed into law including those that were passed by incorporation.
Sending a Bill to Congress
Before a bill becomes a law it needs to pass through the two chambers of Congress, the House of Representatives and then the Senate. A bill can only be introduced to Congress by a congressperson. If a private citizen or entity wants to try to get an idea of theirs made into a law, they need to present it to their congressperson to present to Congress. Anyone can come up with an idea and a draft for a law but only Congress can introduce it into legislation. Many bills do not make it this far.
Legislation is the action of legislating- or exercising the power and function of making a bill into a law. A bill is proposed legislation that is under consideration by a legislature. Once a bill has been enacted into law, it is called a statute or a law.
A bill may wait for a long time before it is its turn to be introduced to Congress via the House of Representatives (often referred to as the House) by a congressperson or other official representative. Once a representative introduces it, it may be discussed, debated, and researched for a long time before the House votes on it.
If the House votes in favor of making the bill a law it gets passed on to the Senate where the members of the Senate will repeat the same process of discussion, debate and research that the House went through. If the Senate votes in favor of the bill, they pass it on to the president for approval.
Once the president is presented with a bill, they have ten days to take action on it, otherwise they forfeit their vote and it becomes a law. If a president approves a bill, it becomes a law. If a president vetos a bill it does not become a law and it is given back to Congress. Congress can override a president’s veto with a ⅔ vote against the president.
Once a bill has completely passed by the legislature and been approved by the President of the United States, it becomes a law.
If a bill is vetoed by the president and sent back to Congress, the chances of it becoming a law are slim because the process is so time consuming. If a bill sits in Congress for a decade or more, there is a good chance that the people and organizations, etc., that were working to get it passed will no longer be invested in the cause and/or it may not even have a direct impact on their lives anymore.
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