How Laws are Made

The United States lawmaking process has been progressing since the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) when it was derived from the English Common Law System. From this, our brave founding fathers molded common law into the foundation of the United States, which is known today as the Supreme Law of the land. And so law has embarked itself upon us, and impacted our lives every day since, in both negative and positive attire. But in order to come to appreciate a law, one must first have a full comprehension of how it is made: the legislative process.

A law starts off as a bill. A bill is a proposal for a law which, though anyone may present, can only be introduced to Congress by members of congress. Congress then determines the type of bill: public or private. A public bill affects the general public while a private bill affects a specific person(s) or group.

After the text concerning the bill is written, it must be introduced into congress by a member of congress, this member becomes the bills sponsor may introduce the bill whenever house is in session by placing it in a specific box, or on the rather speakers, or on the presiding officers desk. The bill is assigned a number; its title read on the house floor, and is passed for mark-up to the committee.

From here the bill is referred to a committee, and given a date for mark-up, debate, and possible alternations. The committee then votes on the bill, and may refer it to a subcommittee for approval.

The bill is then given a date to be reported in the House of Representatives, on this date the bill is read and considered on the House floor. The bill then is read by title and voted on, in a “Yea, nay, or present” answer submitted by each member (electronically by House Chamber, and manually by Senate members.) If a member is present yet chooses not to cast his or her vote they may answer “present.” If house majority agrees to pass the vote it is given to the Senate for approval. In this time the bill is certified by a clerk, sent to committee yet again for markup, and given to Senate to choose upon rather ignoring, or voting on whether to pass it.

Once a bill is passed by both House and Senate, it is sent to the President to be enrolled (in other words, signed.) The president may sign the bill, or ignore the bill; the bill will become a law as a result of either of these actions. If the president finds the bill unnecessary, he or she may veto the bill. In the case of a veto the bill will be sent back to the House of Representatives for re-evaluation of the given objections. The House may choose to override, or overrule the veto.

A two-thirds vote from both House and Senate is needed to override a president’s veto. If this override is successful the bill becomes a law. If the bill is not overridden it is diminished.

The lawmaking process is not a slow process; bills can takes years to become laws, but it is important to know how such an effective process is carried out. As the people of the United States it is our right to put such knowledge to use, and who knows, maybe we can even take lawmaking into our own hands and make a change in our government.. The world is at our fingertips, all that’s left to do is grab it.